Home/2008 photos/Africa/Rwanda

A very quick trip to Rwanda to see the mountain Gorillas After our delays in Dar Es Salaam, we were glad to be touching down in Kigali. We were met by our representative from our tour company, Magic Safaris. They were more than willing to modify our pre-arranged itinerary to a shorter trip which we were glad for, but still upset at Kenya Airways for forcing us to miss our scheduled flights from the previous days. And so, after collecting our bags (and having a plastic bag confiscated as they're not allowed in the country!) we hopped in our safari vehicle and started on our journey. Our first stop was lunch in Kigali. We were amazed by the differences between Kigali and Dar Es Salaam. Kigali was a beautiful place, surrounded by lush scenery and the city itself looked prosperous and clean. I was also amazed by things like the motorcycle taxis who even carried spare helmets for the passengers! After lunch we drove through the lush countryside which was so different than Botswana or Namibia - and reminded me more of Vietnam than anything.. Up in the mountains we checked into our hotel, the Mountain Gorillas Nest. This place was nice, but cold! with the clouds and rain and mist and elevation (oh, and lack of heat in the room!) we were chilly. We had a bit of time on our hands so Meghan walked around and I hung out reading. The following morning we were up for another early pre-dawn start. We had breakfast and checked out of the hotel and drove to the Virunga National Park where we were assembled with the other visitors, assigned a gorilla group to visit (we were given the "Hirwa" (lucky) group), and schooled on proper gorilla-visiting etiquette. After an hour or so hike through the lush, cultivated countryside and the dense National Park jungle we rendez-voused with the trackers who had found our gorilla group. We did our final preparations and then hiked up to the gorillas. The next hour was spent dumbfounded and amazed at watching these creatures. It was amazing. We generally stayed the 7-meters distance but occasionally one of the gorillas would come closer .. so we were pretty close. And compared to the safari, when you're in a vehicle, this was completely different. The young gorillas were the most entertaining, wrestling around and having a good time while their elders lazily enjoyed the day. We were sad when it was time to leave. We had lunch and drove back to Kigali where we spent some time in the Genocide Memorial/Museum, which was really interesting and well done. After that we spent an evening in Kigali, basically just hanging around the hotel and packing our bags for our departure from Africa.