Day 165 – 167: Gisenyi to Kigali

|, Rwanda, Trip Report|Day 165 – 167: Gisenyi to Kigali

28 July 2017

Day 165 – 167: Gisenyi to Kigali

Distance: 154km (Cumulative: 17 303km)
Moving time: 3:37
Average speed: 43km/h
Road surface: 100% Tar

Accommodation: Camping
Discover Rwanda Kigali - R130 p.p

Very noisy and not really suitable for roof top tent camping.

We got awoken by the traffic again and got up for breakfast in the main house. We wanted to get to Kigali today and decided to take the main road back to Ruhengeri and then the highway to Kigali.

We left at 11:36 and noticed that a lot of shops was closed. The police presence in all the towns and villages were also a lot more than when we drove the same road 2 days ago. Some buses passed us with people hanging out of the windows waving FPR flags. We knew the elections are only on the 4th of August so something else is going on today. Eventually, our questions were answered when we saw a whole hillside covered with people.

Later we found out that it was the president himself who were at the rally and people were taking the day off and closing their shops to attend.

Almost all the towns between Gisenyi and Ruhengeri were empty, but after that more and more people were on the streets again and the shops were open.

The tar road was perfect without a single pothole and super clean. It wasn’t, however, spotless as some people claim. If you really look for it you will see some pieces of trash, but it is by far the cleanest country we have been to. Rwanda isn’t called the country of a thousand hills for no reason, we climbed 2586m, descended 2634m and had amazing views of valleys and mountains all covered in agriculture. We went to Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel, the same backpackers chain as in Gisenyi. Their camping for roof top tents is in the small uneven parking lot, but for ground tents they have three small level spaces. We tried to park as level as possible by driving onto flat stones.

We checked-in and ordered food from the restaurant again for the third day. D&S later went to town to look for an ATM, while the Two Monkeys washed down the dust from the Hilux. Later the evening we quickly did some work before playing card games with D&S until late in the evening.

The next morning, we had breakfast in the restaurant, which was again included in the $10 camping. Eggs aren’t made to order here, but they had some baked potato slices and brought out fried eggs. There were a few other backpackers as well. After breakfast, we took a taxi to the Genocide Memorial Museum. The gardens were in a rather sad state, with none of the fountains working, but the layout of the museum and displays were really good.

The personal accounts of survivors played on monitor screens throughout the museum really added a unique perspective to the atrocities that were committed which one cannot get from simply reading about it on Wikipedia. The power went off several times leaving everyone in pitch blackness for short periods of time as the one level of the museum is below ground.

After visiting the musuem the Two Monkeys wanted to go to the Burundi Embassy to try and get a visa. We wanted to take a taxi again, but boda bodas soon found us and it turned out that four boda bodas is still cheaper than one taxi. Boda Bodas in Rwanda are relatively well regulated. Only one passenger is allowed and the driver always has an extra helmet for the passenger. All four of us made it to the embassy in one piece. We had to wait a while before someone informed us that the visas can take 15 days to process, but we just need to fill in a form and don’t have to leave our passports there or pay anything up front. We thus filled in the forms in case we decided to go for it.

We then took Boda Bodas to the Gorilla Coffee roastery. Despite clearly giving directions, showing the name of the place and the map the lead driver with Caro at the back still drove to the wrong place. Hugo then told his driver to go in front and gave him directions. We got to the roastery where we thought you could do a coffee tasting, but they only sell coffee beans. We managed to get a free tour of the facility, which was interesting. We bought 1.5kg of coffee beans for R170 to take home as gifts.

We decided to walk the 4km back to the backpackers. Kigali still have a lot of gravel roads in close to the city center so we walked almost all the way on gravel. Kigali also spans a few valleys and hills so no matter where you are going you’re sure to walk uphill or downhill.

D&S started to pack their bags for the flight home. Their big bags each weighed more than 22kg and then they had two more bags for checking in and then two carry-on bags.

After everything was packed in we went to the Lalibela Ethiopian restaurant where we ordered the traditional injera dish with different meat options as well as a bowl of Shiro. We even got free Ethiopian coffee at the end. It tasted more or less the same as in Ethiopia except for one of the meat options that tasted a bit burnt.

After dinner we basically did our own thing and then went to bed at around 22:00. There were locals at the bar less than 3m from our tent who were singing and talking loudly. We watched two episodes on Netflix until passed midnight, but the noise was still there. At 01:00 someone still arrived.

The next morning we had breakfast in the restaurant again and then basically waited around. We initially said we’ll take a taxi with D&S to the airport, but then decided to take them in the Hilux. The road that the GPS took us on was mostly under construction and we stood still for some time. We, however, made it to the airport with more than enough time left. We thought we would share one last meal with D&S, but only passengers were allowed inside the airport building. Hugo and Caro went to a cafe outside the security check with the hope that D&S can come out again after checking their bags in. Just after we ordered they let us know that they’re not allowed to go out again.

We thus ate by ourselves. We saw a carrefour on the map, but wasn’t sure if it is an actual Carrefour or just some small shop who calls themselves that. We then decided to rather go to the Kigali City Tower Mall which has a Nakumatt and a cinema. At the mall we made it into the underground parking just just so Hugo didn’t feel comfortable going up the ramp to the next levels and asked to just park on the first level which was closed off with cones. They let us stand there after some negotiating.

We went to the cinema to buy tickets for Spiderman Homecoming in 3D which started in 45 minutes, it cost about R70 including the 3D glasses. In the 45 minutes we had we quickly went to the Nakumatt and bought some salami and cheese, bread, water and other groceries.

The cinema was quite comfortable with nice seats, but the sound was way to loud. Hugo’s mother would definitely have went to the staff and told them to put it softer as she often does in South Africa. This movie marks Hugo’s 10th visit to a cinema in a different country, the others being (South Africa, England, Germany, Vietnam, Turkey, Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda).

To get out of the parking we had to go out against the one-way incoming traffic which seemed never ending. We finally got a gap and could leave. We went back to the backpackers and still had to put up our tent. Luckily there were still space for us. We ordered food and a beer from the restaurant and then started to chat to Konrad who we kind of met two days ago before he left to Akagera NP with two Dutch guys who are also driving back to South Africa via Malawi.

We told Konrad that we were thinking of going to Nyungwe forest and then to Kibuye. He had more or less the same route in mind, but were going to take busses. We invited him to go with us, he said we can talk about it again in the morning.

There were lots of locals at the bar so we watched a episode on Netflix again before going to bed.


2019-07-29T10:51:24+02:00 February 11th, 2017|Categories: Africa, South Africa, Trip Report|

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