After a delicious breakfast it was time leave this beautiful place and take with us the memories that were made here….
From the moment we entered Rwanda I knew it was going to be special and our time here certainly has been that and so much more. Never has a place moved me as much as this one has. I have been brought to my knees with despair, sorrow, anger, shame, horror at what has been endured by the peoples of this land. Disbelief at how something so utterly terrible could have happened and shocked beyond measure at the cruelty and brutality that was perpetrated by so many. The stories and images are branded upon my heart and my mind and will never, ever be forgotten.
I then have felt huge respect and admiration towards the people, their resilience, the incredible efforts they put into building a new life and their friendliness is very heartwarming. What Rwanda has achieved in the last 21 years is truly mind boggling and sadly we, in exactly the same time frame, seem to have stalled. Everyone here is really trying to show that the H and the T words are a thing of the past and everyone is just Rwandan. It is truly amazing to see how they have taken the huge investments, dare I say some guilt money as well, and improved the lives of the people. Is it perfect? I am damn sure it is not but I have to say that as an outsider looking in they certainly are trying the best to make it the best that it can be, for all Rwandans.
My emotions then did a total about turn and I was moved to absolute joy, great delight and excitement on meeting the Mountain Gorillas of the Volcanoes National Park. What a truly memorable day that was and for completely different reasons will also be branded on my heart and never forgotten. So this country as made me feel every emotion known to man and I leave her richer for the experience and very grateful indeed.
We head for the border and hope desperately for an easy passage…it was not to be. Two hours of standing here, standing there and sadly digging into our wallets here and there too. It was very annoying to discover that recently it was compulsory for us to pay for a visa (thank you South Africa!!!) and a hefty $100 a head at that. Then another $20 for some road tax or other, a long wait to get a slip of paper from a disinterested Ugandan Policeman before we finally entered the country
We head towards our next stop, a River Camp on the outskirts of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. What can I say….the drive is stunning! Uganda is truly beautiful and the roads so far are actually not bad at all. Beautiful mountain passes, lakes, tea plantations, dense forests and pine plantations make the journey very enjoyable indeed. It does take a long time though and we eventually arrive at the gates of the Park to get another bloody rude shock. Uganda it seems is not shy to charge, for everything! To camp for two nights…$150 per vehicle x 2, $40 per person per day x 4 x 2, plus $5 per person per day to camp x 4 x 2….equals a whopping $660. This just after we had paid $420 at the border. Nee %^#*+!
After a very brief discussion we agree that we will rather stay outside the Park and press our noses against the electric fencing. We have a long way to go and lots of parks to enter and sadly they are all charging exorbitant fees, especially when you are paying with our very sad Rands. Never mind we head to the River Camp….hmmm a bit disappointing to say the least. The campsite is not good at all, the ablutions are dismal and there is no hot water. As we have decided to only stay a night it is not worth the effort of setting up too much of camp so we take over a half built chalet and make it cosy!
Jaco the manager takes pity and opens up their honeymoon suite chalet so we can use the bathroom. We therefore get to have a lovely piping hot shower so we are happy. Supper is a Ross Gourmet extravaganza and we settle around our fire and chat to a very sweet Dutch couple before retiring to our bridal bedecked deck suite. We sleep well under the Moon and stars and after breakfast we leave for our next destination, Fort Portal and the sight of the great Mountains of the Moon.
A bit of glee when we get to see quite a lot of game whilst driving along the Queen Elizabeth National Park boundary…no fence. We also get out to have a bit of fun when we cross the equator. We land up choosing to stay at the gracious Mountains of the Moon Hotel in Fort Portal, just as well as the heavens opened up and camping would have been a challenge. I go for my first Ugandan run, G and I have a sauna and a swim, we then have a drink to toast another day almost at its end. Now for bed…..