Rwanda – Muanze to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda

Rwanda travel – Left Uganda and traveled to Kigali

In the morning we left. At a village we stopped to spend our last Ugandan Shillings. As always people at the villages gather in crowds around the Land Rover teasing Tara which makes me really angry. So quickly we left and headed for the border. The Ugandan side was no hassle at all, got our passports stamped, TIP stamped, and on to the Rwandan border. No issues here as well. Got the visa for a month stamped in, TIP was not much of an issue for them, had to pay for the road tax of course, but in Rwandan Francs, which of course we did not have. So I had to change dollars at a money changer. As we did not really know the rate (normally we check in the internet before) we got of course cheated, always the same in Africa, you must not make a mistake, you will pay for that immediately. After an hour we could go. We had to change the side, as they drive the same side as continental Europe. After an hours drive we reached Muanze, where we looked for a campsite. After some time we eventually found it, Red Rock campsite and guest house was reasonable priced, the rooms were basic, but had a kind of charm, although my sister complained that the roof had a hole, which would have been a problem when it had rained. The campsite was ok, shower in the house, even warm water, nice dinner in the evening, but bloody hell freezing outside. Nevertheless we had a nice evening covered in warm jackets.

Rwanda - Campsite at Muanze
Rwanda – Campsite at Muanze
Rwanda - Campsite at Muanze
Rwanda – Campsite at Muanze

We headed on to Kigali, because we had not had booked a flight from Kigali to Entebbe for my sister and the connection flight was already on 7th of January. The drive was pleasant through hilly landscape, a lot of people walking along the streets, that was unusual for us, but the roads in excellent condition. At around noon we arrived in Kigali and checked in at Discover Youth Hostel, a backpackers, more a backpackers than a campsite, so you basically park on the car park, you can pitch a tent in the small grass patches, which we did not do, we slept in the car. It was much warmer in Kigali, which made sitting in the evening really nice. We relaxed,booking a flight was on the agenda for the following day.

Rwanda Kigali - Discover youth hostel
Rwanda Kigali – Discover youth hostel

We had no Francs, so we had to go downtown. What we did not know that only one bank, Equity bank, has an ATM where you can withdraw with Master Card, which was a bit of a nuisance. We hired motorbikes that brought us to the center. Unless in other African countries, they are very modern here, obviously due to the many NGOs being based here, if onder why, because Rwanda is not at all in need of aid from outside. Even the motorbike drivers wear helmets, as a passenger you have to wear one as well, which they provide you with and only one person is allowed per bike. Kigali is situated in a hilly surrounding, with a very modern center, where there are banks and big supermarkets. So we checked for flights, there are some available, but only a day before my sisters flight from Entebbe, meant that she had to spent the night at the airport in Entebbe. Anyway there was no other choice, and she booked her flight with Rwanda Air. Then we went to a coffeeshop, to get proper coffee.

After breakfast we wanted to go to Genocid Memorial. For camping the breakfast is included, but considering the price for camping (9 US $ per person) it is not worth it. First it consists of coffee (drip coffee) some bread, which you can toast, a kind of artifical bread spread, but not real butter, some jam and occassionally they brought some eggs or chapati, which they provided in such small quantities, that most of the time, because there were many guests, you could not get a share. So you were left with coffee. We hired again motorbikes that drove us to the memorial. Admission is free, but a donation is expected. Basically it is a photo exhibition, where they tell the history of the Genocide in 4 languages and show some clothes. The exhibition is impressing, there is another room as well where they document other genocide places in Asia and Far East and Europe. We walked through and got a bit of a background information how this could happen. For me the part of United Nations was more than questionable and confirms my feelings that they are no good at all. Also church did not play a good part in the history of the Genocid. What impresses me is that after 20 years the people had overcome this racial desaster and live now together more or less peaceful, at least the effort of the ruling president Paul Kagame. Full of impressions we left the memorial, drove downtown to have some coffee. Evening we spent again at the backpackers and Alex prepared nice dinner.

Rwanda - Genocide Memorial
Rwanda – Genocide Memorial

We wanted to visit the Natural History Museum, and made a long walk, eventually we gave up, took a taxi, because we were not able to find it. At the place we found out that they charge ridiculous entrance fee, so we decided not to visit it, anyway it was about a German, who lived here, in which we were not very interested, we had expected something different. We walked back to town, did some souvenir shopping, and stopped at Galleria, a German butchery, supermarket and restaurant, where they offered superb meat.

Rwanda - Museum
Rwanda – Museum

As it was my sisters last day, souvenir shopping was on the agenda. One of my worst days. So again with the motorbike we went to a real souvenir market, with real tourist prices. Luckily they had chairs where I could sit in the shade and try to survive. After several hours my sister had finished her souvenir orgy and we drove back to the backpackers. Her flight was in the late afternoon, so she had to pack her things and time was fleeting, soon the moment came to say good-bye. It was nice that she came again to visit us and we had fun together. The sad thing is, that we do not know, if she can ever come to visit us again, as her personal circumstances had changed over the last months and we do not know if she could afford it again. She took a taxi and off she was. We were left with a kind of emptiness and good memories to the days she spent with us.

Rwanda - bored at souvenir market
Rwanda – bored at souvenir market

As Discover Youth Hostel was rather expensive we changed to One Love Club, no it is not a swinger club, as the name suggests, but a charity project. We drove there, and discussed the price, it was 5 US$ per person, got a room for toilet and shower (cold) and had to camp at the parking. It was not really exciting but ok for the price and much more space. We had power, did a little bit of work.

We worked all day, in the afternoon the power was off and did not come back, probably because they did not pay the power bill. The place is a bit run down, a pity, because it is not a bad property. So we decided to move on the following day, if power did not come back.

09.01.2014 to 23.01.2014
In the morning we packed as power did not come back and moved again to Discover Youth Hostel, which was more or less the only option. In general Rwanda is not very much suited for individual travelers and not at all for campers, as there are hardly any opportunities to camp. Anyway we had to do some work, which was ok here.

How everything started