Rwanda, the “Land of a Thousand Hills” impressed us immediately with its beautiful, green landscape and its friendly inhabitants. The road to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, winded through endless valleys which slopes were terraced and cultivated. And, as always, we were happily greeted by the people by the roadside. After arriving in Kigali, we dealt first with the darkest chapter of Rwandan history, the genocide of the Hutus against the Tutsis. In 1994, during the “100 days of madness” over one million men, women and children were systematically and incredibly brutally murdered, while the world watched. A poignant memorial in the heart of Kigali brought the suffering of the people to our eyes and showed how quickly intolerance and hatred can lead to disaster. Deeply moved, we got back in the truck and reached in the evening the Parc National de Volcanos, one of the last places on earth to see mountain gorillas. As the name suggests, up to 4000 meter high volcanic cones dominate the landscape and on its slopes the gorillas live.
On the so-called G-Day, we were picked up early in the morning by jeeps and first went into the Rangers´ headquarters where we were awakened by an amazing drum and dance performance. Then there was a brief introduction to the lives of gorillas and were assigned to one of the ten gorilla families. After the jeep brought us a bit closer to the gorillas, we then had to climb the volcano by ourselves. But we were lucky and after only one and a half hours we reached our family called “Ugenda”. The excitement on our side was of course great, while the gorillas seemed very relaxed. The jungle was unfortunately quite dense and the family constantly searched for food, so we had to follow them again and again through the undergrowth.
But the sight of these magnificent creatures and their nearly human interaction was an unforgettable experience. Above all, the silver back, the head of the family, with its majestic yet somehow affectionate way, impressed us very much. Unfortunately, the hour that you are allowed to spend with the gorillas, ended much too early and reluctantly we said goodbye to our new friends. But maybe we come back one day.
At the end of our stay in Rwanda, we were allowed to attend a mass wedding in a local church. Although not all married couples seemed super happy, the hustle and bustle of hundreds of wedding guests was an experience in itself.
Our short but eventful visit to Rwanda was now over and we went on to Tanzania, where we looked for the animals in the famous Serengeti …