Rwanda Trip Report


Mar 4th, 2008, 02:00 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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Rwanda Trip Report

I'm finally posting my trip report.

We spent 11 nights and 12 days in Rwanda and covered most things, I think (Jan 29 to Feb 9):

Day 1: Arrived in Kigali and went to Hotel Chez Lando. Got a shower and lunch and then did a quick city tour and went to the Genocide Memorial. Did this on our first day, rather than the last, per all of your recommendations. Definitely recommend it as a beginning, rather than ending. Also, I would recommend the movie Sometimes in April to give one a good idea of what exactly happened.

I found Kigali, along with all of Rwanda to be very safe and clean. Chez Lando, by Rwandan standards is fine. An Ambassador and some other diplomats were staying there.

Day 2 - 4 We went down to Rusumo Falls on the Tanzanian border. Quite a rush of water, but also quite a drive. We then went to Akagera Game Lodge where we stayed for 3 nights. There was nobody there. This lodge has an incredible view of Lake Ihema. I thought it was lovely. You won't see the Big 5 here, but we saw a lot of game: Topi, Oribi, Eland, Zebra, Giraffe, Buffalo, Baboons, Vervet monkeys, Black Momba, Waterbuck (a different kind from SA too), crocs and hippos. The birding, here as in all of Rwanda, is excellent.

Day 4 we went back to Kigali and stayed overnight at Chez Lando.

Day 5, we travelled to Nyungwe by way of Butare. Saw the King's Palace, the National Museum and Intore Dancing. Highly recommended. We got to Nyungwe late and Gisakura didn't honor our reservations (I guess this happens often) and drove to Cyangugu. We stayed at Hotel de Chutes which was HORRIBLE. I need to write to the Bradt Guide to tell them. Unfortunately, it was too late to go somewhere else, but our guide did get us a different hotel for the next night.

Day 6: Hiking in Nyungwe. What a fabulously beautiful place!!! Started with the earthquake and then went for a nature hike - the pink trail. Loved it. Saw Colobus monkeys on the trail. And then we did a separate Colobus monkey hike. Very cool.

Day 7: We had overnighted at the Peace Guesthouse in a Rondavel (sp?). The regular rooms were damaged in the quake. The Rondavel's were very nice.

Early morning up to do the Chimps. Other people going on the trek were late, so we had to take the shortcut. Straight down mud hills. Yikes! Needed lots of help from the guides. The chimps are difficult due to their constant moving around in the canopy, but the noises they make are worth it. Thank goodness we didn't have to take the shortcut back.

Day 8: Stayed at Hotel Bethanie in Kibuye. What a great view. Next day went for a boat ride out to see the giant fruit bats. The boat ride was nice and Jean-Baptiste also took us to his island. Wished it was beer time, as that would have been a great place to hang out for a while.

We then travelled up to Gisenyi, which is a lovely town. We were to have lunch at Malahide Paradise, but it was too late and just had a glass of wine. This was a neat place.

Kept traveling up to Kinigi and stayed at Kinigi Guesthouse. I actually thought this was the nicest place we stayed, but probably was my least favorite in the food department.

We stayed at Kinigi I think 3 nights. We did two gorilla treks, first was Sabinyo and the second was Group 13. Both sitings were fantastic with a close encounter of the gorilla kind. If you're where they want to be, they just move you. Group 13 had a 3 week-old baby and a 15 mo. old and 2 year old. The youngsters were two boys who wrestled the whole time just like two human boys. Hilarious - and great video!

We also did a Golden Monkey trek and they obviously are not as elusive as they once were. Very good siting and they seemed curious about us.

While we were in Kinigi our guide hooked us up with a local guy and he took us into a village and into the backroom of a hut and showed us they banana beer (which we liked). Had a good time meeting all the kids.

We had a guide/driver the whole time and travelled by 4x4. Saw lots of countryside and saw the gacaca courts going on. The country is so beautiful, but roads aren't wonderful. This is how we did India and feel it's the only way to get to know a country. Our weather was fabulous the whole time, it only rained in the afternoons when we were in Kinigi, which was fine, since we were done with our activities. Email with any questions at [email protected].
cjstobbs is offline  
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Mar 4th, 2008, 04:55 PM
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Thanks for the report. Hope to see some pictures when it is convenient for you.

Did you request 3 nts Akagera? Could you give a brief rundown of how you spent your time there? Any canoeing? Do you think 3 nights is good? Was it about 2 1/2 hours from Kigali?

For Nyungwe did you request a chimp trek or did you just go with the flow and that's what you did on the second day? You tracked primates for 2 days, was it?

Your description of the gorillas tells me you had a good visit.

Sorry if you mentioned this before, but was your trip private or scheduled departure and how # people? Could you tell us what outfitter you used?

Thanks so much!

atravelynn is offline  
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Mar 4th, 2008, 05:44 PM
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Thanks for the report. How nice you spent more time in Rwanda and how nice for us that we got to hear about other locations in Rwanda.
bat is offline  
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Mar 4th, 2008, 06:44 PM
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Thanks for the report. I, like Lynn, am curious how you booked this trip--all in advance or as you go or...? And also, have you been on other African safari trips before? If so, did you feel you were "missing something" just doing Rwanda this time? Would you consider yourselves avid hikers in general?

(In case you can't tell, I'm toying with the idea...)
Leely is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2008, 03:39 PM
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I used Access Rwanda and one of the owners, Ossy, was our guide/driver the entire trip. It was just me and my husband. Ossy speaks Kinyarwanda, Engish and German. Everything was pre-planned by Ossy and everything was paid for: Hotels, meals, treks, et cetera (except booze).

I've been to South Africa (2 safaris), Botswana (1 safari), Zimbabwe and India (1 safari). I personally like the East African tent style safari you can get in SA, because I like hearing all the animals at night. We were looking forward to Rwanda because it is "jungle" not bushveld (just a different experience). Rwanda is great because there aren't that many tourists except at the gorillas. We plan to do Uganda on our next trip to Africa. Just working our way through.

As far as game, it is hard to beat seeing the game you see in SA; leopard, lion, elephants, etc., but it's nice not being with a bunch of other people.

Akagera: Not sure how far it is from Kigali, as we did not travel direct either way. We took a boat trip on Lake Ihema(hired), but canoeing would be out due to hippos and crocs. The place to do canoeing or kayaing would be Lake Kivu, but I doubt they have anything like that to rent. Akagera has 3 sections, so we did one each day. Ossy was still our driver in the park, but we had a local guide for the animals and birds who went with us each day. You do not do night drives there, unlike in SA.

Nyungwe: I don't know if our guide booked the chimps ahead of time or not. It's not as busy as the gorillas. The nature trails and colobus monkey treks you can just do when you are there. You probably don't have to pre-book the chimps either, unless it's high season. I'm not sure. We are not avid hikers. We're both 46. My husband was in shape, but I hadn't been in the gym, gone walking or hiking in over a year and I'm a chained-to-my-desk legal assistant.

I'll see if my husband can post some pics. I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to stuff like that. Let me know if you have any other questions. Personally, I would probably do SA before I did Rwanda and the dollar is very strong in SA. Unfortunately, this does not affect the price of safaris, but if you wanted to combine it with a trip to the Cape, then your dollar goes pretty far right now. Your dollar definitely goes far in Rwanda.
cjstobbs is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2008, 04:31 PM
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Thanks for the answers. You mentioned some uncertainty about pics. There are many photo posting sites, with lots of free ones.

Kodakshare is a popular one that is easy. It's what I use.
atravelynn is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2008, 05:16 PM
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Thanks so much for answering my questions. I have been on safari in Tanzania twice, but unfortunately I am now working someplace without very much time off. If I go for Rwanda I probably wouldn't also have time to fly, say, to the Serengeti (not to mention the $).

For photo posting I use, but it costs about $24/yr.

Again, many thanks.

Where to next?
Leely is offline  
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Mar 10th, 2008, 04:22 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
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Just returned from Beautiful Rwanda last night (Mar 9th). We did two weeks there and saw many sites (including gorillas [Amahoro troop], Gisenyi, Nyungwe, and Kigali). I will be posting a report soon. I learned some great tips from this site before I left (thank you- to everyone) and will do my best to share my experiences too. Our tip was self planned and implemented, more medium budget style, which worked very well.

Bradt does need some updating but was helpful just the same.

I am sooo mad about your experience getting ejected from your lodging in Nyungwe. Was that at the ORTPN Guest House near the tea plantation? To the west of the forest? If yes, they tried the same stunt on us. We refused to leave as we had made reservations before going. More on this later..... it was ridiculous. I plan on some follow up with govt. authorities there.

Rwanda is a great place to see for sure. Go for it!

Cheers from Vermont,
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