Friday 26 September 2008

19th September 08

Date: 19th September 08
Location: Butare, Rwanda
Weather: Clear and cool to start, the clouds then gathered and the humidity rose….then it rained properly!! 27°c
Status: In love with this country!

Up as the birds started to sing to us in our little parking lot, all very pleasant! Made our way to the café and had breakfast, shopped for some essentials and filled the truck up with diesel. Then hit the road…..

Oh and what a stunning road it was too, climbing sharply from the overnight stop of 1000m and winding through the green, terraced, heavily farmed slopes and valleys offering amazing photo opportunities all the way. Rwanda is truly a beautiful place with friendly waving locals to match….do not let the past atrocities get in the way of your judgement of this country, it’s stunning.

They’re a pretty adept bunch too utilising all areas of the valleys and hilltops, with rice, maize, cabbages, carrots, potatoes, tea, coffee, bamboo, bananas, passionfruit, cucumber, chillies – everything you can imagine grows here!! The gracefully laid out farming looks organised, well watered and managed with neat plots all full of varying greens which reminded me of market gardens back in the UK.

The road towards Nyungwe National Park passed through more little villages clinging to the side of the steep slopes with all sorts being sold in the markets, from toilet roll to volleyball nets, weird! As we neared the park the landscape changed from managed farming to wild rainforest with sprawling green vines draping over the huge tall trees and the occasional daring monkey poked their face out for us to see! They’re Angolan Colombus monkeys here; black with white beards and cheeks and really cuteand I’d never seen them before. At one of the high spots in the park is the campsite so we stopped, enquired about prices….and promptly left - $80 for the two of us for the night!!! Yikes.

Decided it was as good a place as any to go for a run and donned the kit, turned west out of the campsite and hit the road again with Bre driving and me gathering speed downhill, the gathering clouds looking all the more menacing by the minute. After half an hour the heavens opened in style, a real rainforest downpour with rivers down the road, steam from the trees and Ben covered from head to toe!

As the rain abated a pickup filled with military brandishing machine guns, police and park officials drove past us and pulled to a stop. One of the front seat passengers got out and signalled for me to stop, which I obligingly did! He asked me if I had a licence to run in the park!!!! “What on earth are you talking about?” I said, I had asked the official at the campsite of it would be ok for me to do so and he said no problem. So the uppity git radioed through to see if I was lying, and the response came through that they said it was ok, HA!

I then explained what Afritrex was all about, gave him a business card and plan, then he told me that Bre was commercially filming within the park which was chargeable at $2000 per day, bloody idiot!! Now I generally wouldn’t argue with a guy who’s backed up my a truck load of militia….but this was ridiculous!

He asked me to stop immediately, which of course I had done, and that they’d see that we didn’t do it again by escorting us the 20kms out of the park! It’s a damn public road I told him in my best smiling French!

Asshole jobs worth, I hate them all!! So I drove as slowly as I could, taking photos as often as I could just to wind up the little twat and eventually exited the park much less agitated!

We then turned north along the banks of Lake Kivu which is another stunning location with terraced fields all the way down to the waters edge although the main road left a lot to be desired, another battle with dust, rocks and inclines!

Just as the sun set we managed to pull into the town of Kibuye to find another closed down hotel on the T4A gps information and eventually settled down for the night at Centre Bethanie.

Bed and Uganda tomorrow

End of day location: Kibuye, Rwanda
Distance covered: 288kms

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