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Nick and Bec's Big Trip Starting on the 29th of June 2008 Bec and I will be starting a year long adventure, spending 6 months in Africa and another 6 months in South America. It should be lots of fun.

Volcanos in the Mist

RWANDA | Friday, 3 October 2008 | Views [1279] | Comments [2]

Bec and I are in Kigali the capital of Rwanda.  We have just got back from climbing Mt Bisoke (extinct volcano at 3711m high) and gorilla treking in Volcano National Park northern Rwanda.

You'll have to excuse spelling mistakes.  I am using a french keyboard, I think, and the keys aren't where you expect them to be.

So the entry I have picked is our climb up Mt Bisoke.  Here goes:

30th September - Musanze to Kinigi, Mt Bisoke and Volcanos in the Mist.

Mr Francis arrived prompt at 6am and we set off for the ORTPN office, Kinigi in his battered, but functioning Toyota pickup.  Mr Francis was a nice chap apart from thinking I was an Aussie.  We talked about eucalypt trees that were lining the road and the size of the average peasant family, up to ten.

We arrived at the ORTPN office and a well oiled tourist machine swung into place.  We were ushered into the office, asked for our permits and then swept outside and helped ourselves to tea, not too much as we wanted to minimise our pee output.  After a brief spell of amusing ourselves by looking at the biege clad Americans, almost all identical in appearance sporting new boots, biege trousers, biege safari jackets (with numerous pockets) and biege hats, we met our guide and the first briefing began.  Fidel was his name.  Interesting choice by his parents I thought.  Anyway the three of us (we left the Americans behind) climb into Mr Francis' Toyota and we drive, well mostly bounce, our way to the start of the climb/trek near the base of Mt Bisoke.

Slight aside, the men carry everything on their trusty bicycles, the women carry everything on their heads, from massive sacks of potatoes to logs that I would struggle to lift, to hoes for toiling the fields to umbrellas.  Well, where else would you put it?

Even further aside, tonight we have to deal with more African plumbing.  Hot water is not easy to come by here.  The hot tap in the sink just coughs and gurgles like the exhaust of an old jalopy, with not a jot of hot water or any water in sight.  So, we move on to the shower, after a couple of atempts and the tap coming off in my hand, fixed by my trusty leatherman, we had a rattling of pipes and a spurt of luke warm water, well cold water with the chill taken off.  This spurt continues and with pipes rattling we strip off clothes quick smart and wash like we have never washed before.

Back to Mt Bisoke, but first we have just been dive bombed by a large flying insect.  Bec has ducked under the covers and ordered the insect to be removed.  I have deposited it outside.  Daft creature, the insect that is, not Bec.  Bec's feet are also freezing.

Yes, we arrive at the base of the climb and are given a walking stick each and set off looking for a couple of armed escorts.  We soon find them and one strides out in front and one steps in behind, protecting us from the sea of irish potatoes, which surrounds us.

The landscape, albeit a cultivated human influenced one is quite beautiful, for want of a better word, with potatoes as far as the eye can see topped with white and purple flowers.  I can also spy maize and onions growing amongst other things.

We crosss into the park, which is surrounded by a dry stone wall, not through a gate or suitable entrance, but a partly collapsed piece of wall, obviously the official entrance.  From no where, arrived by teleport I presume, a porter appears brandishing a large machette.  He becomes part of the support crew helping Bec on the large muddy steps or simply dragging her along until she manages to let go of his hand and step in a fresh buffalo pat.  It was very fresh and I was lucky not to be wear some on my sweaty, but otherwise clean t-shirt.  I guess buffalo pat is the correct term, as in cow pat.  Bec would call it a buffalo pattie, but I think that is all wrong.

We pass the turn off to Dian Fossy's and Digit's grave at 2967 metres high.  We take a right turn and head up the steeper gradient to the summit at 3711 metres.

Bec has just reminded me that our porter didn't actually carry anything.  So not a porter in the strictest sense of the job title.  All he did apart from drag Bec through wild animal poo was to cut down a couple of small sticks with his machette on the way up the hill.

After 2 hours and 40 minutes we arrive, much sooner than expected, but we are grateful.  We sat on a lovely bench and ate our lunch, sharing our biscuits with the crew of four!  The guide, Fidel Castro, his army of two and the pseudo porter.  There is a sign at the top of the volcano, not declaring height above sea level or stating that you are looking across a border at the Congo and to the right is Uganda, but announcing 'do not swim in the lake'.  Not really my first thought on reaching the misty and cool 3711 metre peak.  Not that we could actually see the crater lake in the mist.  It did appear eventually and a few photos were taken.  Before things got too chilly we headed for Mr Francis and his battered, but functioning Toyota, roughly 1200 metres below.

The walking sticks helped alot on the way down, as we slid and wobbled through the mud and roots.  We completed the climb in roughly 5 hours.

Tonight we are staying at the Kinigi Guest House with its interesting plumbing and outstanding waitress service.  Bec and I were hungry after our climb and decided to eat at 5.30pm.  We asked for the menu and set about deciding what to have.  We made up our minds and waited for the waitress to return to take our order.  After about 15 minutes I went to find her, only to find out that it was buffet night and no other food was being served!  Plus the buffet was at 8pm!  Well what can you say.  So we didn't eat our own arms off we started on tomorrows lunch biscuits.  We also met a nice couple, one from RSA, Sheldon, and one from Brazil, Chris.  They were fun and we happily discussed American dress sense until dinner at 8pm sharp. 

Bec is asleep and now it is my turn too.  Gorillas tomorrow, yippee!

So that was it.  In a couple of days we leave the lovely Rwanda and cross over into Uganda.



Remember Minchinhampton and not getting out of the car in case you fell in a cowpat!! Moved on and up to Buffalo now.

Did you find any white cardigans among the beige attire because they get everywhere?

  Pat Oct 4, 2008 12:44 AM


Hi Nick and Becs
Great diary wonderful photos via e mail from cornwall. looking forward to reading more. glad you are having a good time. Susan Dave Claire( and Chris in Germany)

  Sue Duncombe Oct 9, 2008 5:39 AM

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