Posts Tagged ‘Rwanda’

We’re not out of Africa yet, we’re in Egypt, which has a distinctive Northern African/Middle Eastern feel. And so it feels as though we’ve left Africa behind us now, although the continent will surely stay with us for years to come.

We’ve covered roughly 20,000 km overland, across 12 different countries (excluding Egypt), not really knowing what to expect as we moved from one to the next. We enjoyed every country we visited, but a few definitely stand out in our minds, namely Namibia for its spectacular desert scenery, Malawi for it’s warm and friendly people, and Ethiopia for it’s unique culture and breathtaking mountains.

Here are some of the small things that will remind us of our time in Africa:

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Awesome beasts

This is a post that I’ve been waiting to write for over a year now. When we made our booking with Oasis Overland back in the spring of 2009, we decided to pay the extra money to reserve our mountain gorilla trekking permits well in advance. It wasn’t an easy decision to make — the permits cost nearly $600 a piece, which is no small pocket change for travelers. However, ever since hearing Douglas Adams’ account of hiking through the cloud rainforests of the Virunga Volcanoes to find these incredible animals* I’ve been indescribably drawn to the prospect of having the experience myself. It would have been unbearable to be in the heart of Rwanda, so close to the gorillas, without a permit in hand. So we bit the bullet, paid the money (gulp), and started counting down the months. Finally, our planned trekking day was upon us: June 29th, 2010, almost 14 months after booking. This was it. We were going to meet the gorillas.

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The Kigali Memorial Centre

After a few more days of driving through Uganda, we finally crossed the border into Rwanda on June 27th. Rwanda has been a country that we’ve been looking forward to visiting for a very long time now, primarily because we’d booked our permits to go trekking with the mountain gorillas months before we even left Ottawa last July. With each passing day, Rwanda and our gorilla encounter was getting nearer and nearer, and it was foremost in my mind — so much so that the country’s very dark and recent past was not in my thoughts as we crossed the border. It was surprisingly easy to forget that we were heading into a country where over a million people died in the 1994 genocide. On our way to the gorillas we made a stop in Kigali for a half day visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre, dedicated to this genocide in Rwanda and the memory of the victims, both past and present. I have to admit that I had a certain na√Øvety about the specifics of Rwanda’s genocide before visiting the centre, but I left three hours later profoundly affected, and deeply saddened.

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