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Embedded Photos: 1.Crowned Crane2.Gisenyi Lakeside Road3.Lake Kivu4.Parrot Host 4.Volcano National Park Map 4.Hotel Porch
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Rwanda Flag RWANDA


September 21. GISENYI TO KIGALI  As nice as the porch was at our hotel, we couldn't resist heading back to the Kivu Sun for breakfast.  The restaurant balcony overlooked the lake and they offered a fantastic buffet.  It was a real treat for us and we savored it.  We ran into James in the lobby as we were leaving. He and Lawrence had a taxi set up to take them toCrowned Crane, Gisenyi, Rwanda Kigali so perhaps we would run into them again there. 

Just outside the hotel was a large shop selling Congolese art, with far more selection than we had seen in Goma.  They had some nice pieces but wouldn't budge on the prices, which were on the high side.  Sitting outside Gisenyi's most expensive hotel I guess they could get away with charging more.  We gave it a pass for the time being and went down to walk along the waterfront.  We spotted the Belgian guy from our hotel with his friend farther down the beach so we went down to say "hi".  They were standing on the beach in front of the hotel and as we walked up to them a guard came yelling after us.  Apparently we had walked within the perimeter of the hotel without using the front gate!  A few sparsely planted bushes had stood between the resort beach and the "public" beach but there was no fence or sign saying that we couldn't pass that way.  Rob apologized to the guard and assured him that we would leave through the front gateGisenyi, Rwanda.  That wasn't good enough for the guard.  He wanted us to go back out, walk around, and then re-enter through the front gate so we could return back to the place where we were standing.  We pointed to the two Belgian guys, who were just three meters away, and said we had come to visit our two friends who were already inside the resort grounds and told him emphatically that we weren't going to go all of the way back to come back inside again.  It was really ridiculous.  They didn't even check people as they entered the front gate, there were hardly any tourists in town anyway, and we had just eaten at the hotel 30 minutes before.  He let us talk with the two guys for a few minutes but as we headed towards the front gate he came after us again.  Rob had had it.  He suggested that they go talk to the hotel manager and explain the situation.  Then the guy started to back off.  Rob insisted and he backed away more, not at all eager to have a talk with his boss.   He tried to make his point one last time to make sure that we would never try to enter the hotel from the beach again. We told him we'd already said that!  We were never coming back so what did it matter anyway?!

After leaving, through the main gate, we stopped again at the souvenir shop and finally bought a couple more statues.  They didn't budge much on price but the pieces were quite unique.  We crossed back over to the beach and walk towards our hotel until we reached a pathway to the street.  A small Lake Kivu, Gisenyi, Rwanda group of touts were clustered at the end of the path with bags full of more Congolese statues and other souvenirs.  Rob agreed to take a look at their stuff if they had statues to show and did it in turn.  But as soon as we started to look at one guy's statues another guy started to foist his under our faces.  Then another guy selling jewelry tried to get my attention.  Rob reiterated "Only statues!" and gave them an order "First you, then you, then you."  One by one we looked at what each person had and then talked to the ones that had items we were interested in buying.  One guy had a collection of small statues so we bought a couple of them.   He followed us father down the road and succeeded in getting us to buy one more little statue before we finally said "We are done!". They had a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing. They were persistent but not aggressive.  The one guy we bought the statues from had a wandering eye that he kept obscured under dark sunglasses, giving him the cool look of the bunch.  Rob agreed that we would stop by their store later on if we had time. 

We went back to the hotel, packed up our bags, and left them at the front desk with our new purchases.  Feeling rather jaded by the taxis in Gisenyi we walked up to the bus station to by tickets on the afternoon Okapi Car to Kigali.  It was a bit of aGisenyi, Rwanda hike but we found our way and got a better look at Gisenyi in the process.  One thing that really caught our attention was large billboard that stood along the main road.  It showed people crying with chaos and fire in the background.  It was moving and disturbing; another reminder to people not to forget what had happened ten years ago.  We bought our tickets without any problems.  Walking back to our hotel we stopped at the souvenir shops run by the group of touts we'd met earlier.  It was just a few small shops but they were jam packed with all kinds of Congolese artwork.  The stuff was absolutely addictive.  If we weren't faced with carrying it all back to Kigali with us and shipping it home we could have kept on buying statues.  The touts kept up the sales pitches but were good humored about it.  One guy tried to pull the "remember, you promised to buy one of these..." tactics, shaking a set of traditional rattles in front of my nose.  But, not only did I not promise to buy one, I told him it was problematic to buy items with seeds in them because of customs issues.  You can never be too careful of salespeopleGisenyi, Rwanda anywhere in the world.  In the end we resisted the temptation to buy more statues but tried to exchange contact information with one of the guys.  They wanted a copy of the photo I'd taken of them and we hoped that there was a way to buy more statues from them once we got home.

By the time we got back to our hotel there wasn't much time before we had to go grab our bus.  The hotel arranged a taxi for us up to the station.  We had the front row of seats and arranged our bags in the middle.  Everyone in the bus was going to Kigali so it made the trip go smoothly.  We had to go all of the way back through Ruhengeri which took us north and then south but the whole ride only took three hours.  We rolled into Kigali in late afternoon and caught a taxi to the hotel.  After our previous research we were ready to try the other hotel.  The room they had showed us was comfortable and less than the Okapi Hotel, but the room they checked us into was terrible.  The mattress was a real mattress instead of a foam pad but my knees nearly reached my chest when I sat down.  It was ridiculous.  We asked to see two other rooms but the bed in one was just as bad. The other room actually looked really nice but turned out to be occupied!  Finally we took a room with two twin beds and they brought us a TV. The TV didn't work but we didn't care much at that point.  I lied down to give my bed a try.  It was pretty squiggly but tolerable. Then, I got up and accidentally kicked up the bedspread at the end of the bed and saw that the sheet left about a foot of the mattressGisenyi, Rwanda exposed.  That was pretty common but it always gave me the willies.  However, this time the mattress was almost black with filth.  Sharing foot germs with strangers was one thing, I could use a sleep sheet and get over that, but this was dirtier than a street.  That was it.  We picked up our bags and headed over to the Okapi.  They had some cheaper rooms available below the hotel this time, no TV or bathtub but at least it was clean and the restaurant was decent.  It was hardly our favorite place but given the other options in Kigali it is no wonder that it remained a popular choice.


ZANZIBAR Stone Town July 11 July 12-14 Nungwi July 15-18 Stone Town I: July 19-23 II: July 19-23 Paje July 23-27 Stone Town July 27-Aug 1

TANZANIA Dar Es Salaam Aug 1-3 Moshi I: Aug 3-31 II: Aug 3-31 III: Aug 3-31 Safari Circuit Aug 17 Aug 18 Aug 19 Aug 20 Aug 21 Mt. Kilimanjaro Aug 23 Aug 24 Aug 25 Aug 26 Aug 27 Aug 28

KENYA Nairobi Sept 1 Sept 2 Sept 3 Sept 4-5

UGANDA Kampala Sept 6 Sept 7-16 Kampala Short Stories

RWANDA Kigali Sept 16 Sept 17 Ruhengeri Sept 18 Sept 19 Gisenyi Sept 20 Kigali Sept 21 Sept 22

UGANDA Kampala Sept 23 Sept 24-26