Rwanda travel info
days, june- july 2005
Kind of travel:
in a wholly independent travel
24th june- 12th july 2005
How I moved:
autobus, minibus (matatu), moped (boda- boda) and hitch hiking
cheap guesthouse and dormitory
What I liked:
the peacefullness of the country despite its past, the fresh
weather, the absolute lack of cars on the roads and travelling
around on the mopeds (boda- boda).
What I disliked:
being addressed as white man (mzungu), being packed like hell
in the minibus (matatu), waiting at the bus station and the
price for the Gorrila tracking (375$)
Rwanda defenitely is not a cheap country! For eating, accomodation,
pubblic means of transport 30$/day for a low budget travel
+ visa fees (60$ for every entry) + Gorilla tracking (375$)+
park fees (from 50$).
fantastic weather (do u know the lowest point in the country
is 970m?): warm and fresh!! It can be even chilly, bring a good
watch out bathing on the lakes (risk: Bilharzia) and protect
yourself again mosquitos (risk: malaria). Obviously keep away
from the off-limits areas like the Congolese and Burundian border
and keep informed on the lastest news.
if travelling by pubblic means of transport a lot of patience
and don't forget a good flash lamp!!
most of the people Rwanda sounds just as a dangerous place but
a lot changed since the '94, when the genocide happened. In
fact now it's a safe country where to be backpacked and meanwhile
still a kind of virgin area for a traveller; if you want to
do an "off-of-the-beaten-track" travel, Rwanda is
your destination! Of course this has pro and cons: people are
friendly, I didn't meet any dodges and overcharging was not
common. However you are a mzungu (white) and this is how you
will be often addressed. Personally I was quite bothered for
this, and it was one of the main reasons why I felt more at
ease in Uganda where I didn't feel an alien every minute I was
among the people. I found a strange attitude of the locals towards
me in Rwanda. A sort of respect (they wanted me to sit on the
bus or everybody will greet you on the streets) mixed to a strong
curiosity of interacting and observing me to such extent that
often seemed like there were teasing me. For instance people
commenting about me on the bus and laughing at me everything
I did calling me loudly mzungu. I'm sure everybody wanted to
be friendly, but after ten days I was a little tired of all
this explicit attention.
One thing that won't help your travel is the
irregular presence of electricity and fresh water, even in the
main towns, but being a little bit organised it hasn't been
a great deal.
On the other hand one of the best surprises for
me has been the sunny and fresh weather: forget sweating and
baking, in fact most of the time I was wearing a light sweater.
Another nice characteristic has been the frequent
means of transports and the complete lack of traffic: you travel
around the country on the white matatus (minibus) horning and
rocketing over the desert roads, even if without enjoying the
way since you will be suffering being packed like hell. The
uncomfortably travels definitely were my main concern.
From the budget point of view Rwanda is not south
east Asia, hence travelling is not peanuts, especially for the
park fees (50$), the gorilla tracking (375$) and the visa (60$).
Consider at least 30$/day for a single traveller.
One thing you've really to keep in mind: you
are in Africa, you need to have patience; things will work out,
but they need their time, in particular dealing with the public
means of transport.
are some off-limit areas are like the Congolese and Burundian
borders from which it's better to keep the distance and keep
informed on the insta
TRAVEL IN RWANDA
...it took 9
hours (10$, breakdown included) from Kampala to Kigali passing by the border point in
Gatuna; it has been an easy travel despite the long distance.
In Kigali I slept in the Muslim quarter (very
typical) and the day after I arranged the Gorilla tracking.
It was the 28th June and there was almost no more
availability, since the whole July was overbooked (I'm sure
about it)!! Luckily there was a place for the day after, so
I didn't hesitate to book it and jump over a matatu (minibus)
to Ruhengeri. It cost a fortune: 375$!!!!!!! (tips
for the gorrilas tracking) In 2 hours I reached this "big
village" that is the base for the Gorilla tracking in Rwanda.
Here I met some other mzungu (whites) with whom I arranged the
jeep to reach the head quarters of the park, one hour away from
the town (try to share the cost since the round trip is 50$).
I saw the Amahoro B family: it took from 8.00 to 16.00 by jeep,
walking in the park tracking the Gorillas, spending one hour
with them and coming back.
The next day I headed to Gisenyi by matatu (minibus, 2h) where I spent one
very relaxing day on the clean and desert sandy beach. Gisenyi is the last place you
wouldn't think to find in a country like Rwanda.
The leg Gisenyi- Kibuye has been the toughest
of the travel: it took 9h to do less than 100km on a supercrowded
rusty bus (read
the story!!). However it was worthwhile, since Kibuye turned
out to be located in a very nice area of lake Kivu.
The next day I reached Butare by matatu, via Gitarama (7h). Butare is
definitely the nicest town I visited in Rwanda: very fresh climate, very nice people and
more lively then Kibuye and Gisenyi, but calmer then Kigali. Here I spent 3 days visiting
also the shocking memorial of Murambi, where hundreds of dead bodies are kept in 24 former
Then by bus, matatu, taxi and finally boda- boda (moped) in 9h I did from
Butare to the wonderful lake Bunyonyi in Uganda.