The land of a thousand hills

The border crossing at Cyanika was quick! New record of 45 minutes! It even included an amusing Ebola check where they shot us with an infrared temperature gun and we needed to wash our hands. We don’t have Ebola, hooray!

For our first stop in Rwanda we follow the story of a book we both read: “De reis van mijn leven” by Lex Harding. Lex takes a walk in Kinigi and gets accompanied by some kids (like always in Africa). These kids tell him that the gorillas also visit their village. That – if you’re lucky – you can see them eating in the bush. Although we do not buy that story, we visited Kinigi to get a feel of this gorilla village situated between the volcanos. While taking a walk from the campground we also get company. Two kids start chatting with us and along the way the exact same story comes up Lex also describes in his book. The kids start talking about the gorillas, want to know where we are from and they want to take pictures with us. They speak English very well and it’s all friendly and smooth. Then they start about school, that they need money to buy books, and about soccer, that they need a ball. The exact same scam Lex bought ten years ago. It must have been different kids but nothing has changed in this village. When we tell them that we are not giving them money, they are a bit disappointed but quickly ask “can we still keep chatting?”. Of course little sales man.

Our little salesman

We continue our drive to Lake Kivu and we did some groceries along the way. Vegetables and fruits are easy, we always buy those on the street. In Rwanda you can get mangos, avocados and pineapple for almost nothing! Meat is more difficult though. We were thinking about some dishes with pork. In the supermarket there was no meat at all so we looked for butchers. We found one and asked for pork. “Yes! We have pork! In the fridge right there!” The fridge contained unwrapped whole chickens. Okay, no pork and no (dirty) chicken for us. Instead we got a much better deal with two tilapia fish.

Near Gisenyi we visited a tea factory. After the very local coffee tour in Sipi we wanted to see a production facility this time. We did a tour at the Pfunda tea estate and it was fun! With our guide we walked around the factory and could touch and smell all the leave stages. The final product was just laying on the ground, where everybody was walking with their open shoes. So your bag of tea also contains some feet mold, yum!

After the tea tour we drove south, a beautiful ride. Hills covered in tea plants or banana trees, every piece of land is cultivated. When driving downhill at 60km/h we got passed by a number of cyclist carrying enormous bags. Where you have the ‘boda boda’ in Uganda (motorbikes), you’ve got the bicycles in Rwanda to carry people, beer, water, charcoal, chairs and what more.

We continued to Kigali where we wanted to do some work on the car. The rear axle is leaking, some bushes need to be replaced and Hank needs new oil and filters. In Gulu we already spend a day in a Toyota garage but they quoted us €1500, so we left and decided to go to a local garage in Kigali. Good call, we got all the work done for €300 at Garage Weikl, where we spend three days watching, waiting and chatting with the very friendly staff. We even talked about the genocide, they spoke openly about it. Almost everybody has a story to tell, as it happened so recent (1994).

We got to learn more about the genocide when we visited the memorial in Kigali. It’s very impressive and a tough visit for sure, but a must if you want to understand this country. Kigali itself is a breeze, despite the dark history. Nothing like the other African capitals we have visited so far. There are proper pathways, nice restaurants, the traffic is not that chaotic, it’s relaxed, clean and green! We love it!

Kigali by night

One thought on “The land of a thousand hills

  1. Fantastic and exciting stuff.Camping in the bush never disappoints,we love it. Good old Toyota..also the only vehicle.Continue to stay safe and enjoy.


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