• Spike


Whilst on a larger trip to Tanzania with Alex, Robyn and Dom, we decided to spend a couple of days in Rwanda to go Gorilla Trekking.

It's a beautiful country, made up of lots of green hills and mountainous regions. Not long after arriving in the country, we stopped off at a tiny street food market, and I tasted the most amazing corn on the cob! Try the street food! As we were only there for a couple of days, and the Gorilla trekking was the main activity, I only have two suggestions of things to do.

What to see

Gorilla Trekking

If you're going to do anything whilst in Rwanda, then I highly recommend Gorilla Trekking. It's very expensive, I think it was close to £1000, but it's a once in a lifetime experience, and it's remarkable.

Uganda also offer gorilla trekking packages at a much lower price, but I was warned against going in Uganda. More money is spent on the conservation of the gorillas in Rwanda and only one group of tourists can see one group of gorillas per day, so as not to disturb them. Apparently in Uganda, more tourists will see the gorillas throughout the day, which may not be so good for the gorillas. How true this is though, I'm not sure.

Before heading into the jungle, I was a little nervous. What would happen if a gorilla attacked me?

There was no need for concern. We spent about 2 hours trekking through the mountain jungles of Volcanoes National Park, which was an adventure in itself. We were warned to be careful of elephants, which could quite easily kill us if disturbed, even though I was desperate to see one. There were clear signs of elephants being nearby due to huge trees being knocked down, and huge piles of elephant poo.

We crossed rivers, climbed up rocks and cur through undergrowth with our guides, a tracker and a guard with a gun. For the first time on my travels I felt like a true adventurer! Hiking through the jungle, not knowing what dangers awaited us! I just wish I'd had a machete to cut through the vines and bushes!

After 2 hours we finally found the family of gorillas we were looking for. Any worry or fear I had, disappeared in an instant. The leader of the family was huge, but he looked so peaceful sitting and apparently picking his nose.

We spent about an hour in total watching the gorillas, and it was amazing how close to humans they really are!

We were told that if a gorilla does push you, don;t push back, they are simply demonstrating they are in control. But all we had was a juvenile gorilla brush right past us. There were many baby gorillas, playing and hanging from small branches. There was even a gorilla that farted, and it left quite a stench!

What amazed me the most was when two of the teenage gorillas were play fighting. There was a tiny baby nearby them, and one of them almost rolled onto the baby.

The next second, the mother ran other and shouted in gorilla language at them, then separated them and took the baby to a safer place. It was incredible.

Also on the subject of gorilla speak, we had to learn a few phrases, but I only remember one now. If you make a "hmm hmm" type of noise in a low and growly type tone, it means "we're friendly, everything if OK".

We did have one slight issue with a baby gorilla. One was very inquisitive and kept making it's way over to us. I'd have let it come right up to me, but our guards warned us to keep moving back. Whereby it's fine for the older gorillas to approach us, the parents would worry about the baby being near us and if anything went wrong would attack us to protect the baby. So we just kept moving back until the mother held the baby back. It was truly an amazing experience, and one of my favourite travel experiences of all time!

If you have the money to do it, do it!

Kigali Genocide Memorial The Rwandan genocide was something I knew very little about. I remember it being covered on the news in the mid 1990's, but being young at the time I took little notice of it, and it's something that had completely escaped my mind until visiting Rwanda. The Holocaust is something that is widely known about, taught in schools and referenced in movies so we never forget the atrocities that occurred. But The Rwandan Genocide is something that seems to have been forgotten, despite the fact it's a much more recent event and was truly horrific.

This memorial is something that should be seen by anyone visiting Rwanda. It's obviously not an enjoyable attraction, but the events that happened in 1994 should be widely known throughout the world. I won't detail as to what happened here, but I implore people to read up on what actually occurred.

At the end of the museum there are several displays of other genocides that have occurred throughout the world, and with exception of The Holocaust, I knew very little or nothing about the others. I was shocked at how recent some of them were, and also shocked to know even to this day there are genocides occurring.

After attending the museum, the remainder of the day seemed quite sombre. It's hard to explain, but I found this museum more distressful than Auschwitz, maybe because of how little I knew and how recently these horrors occurred. Be prepared for a shocking experience, but please do visit if you're in the country!

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