12 – 18 JULY 2018
Day 12-17 of the adventure.
We have no other better way of describing Rwanda. Rwanda is simply amazing.
We entered Rwanda on our Day 12 of the ride. It is the same day we left Kabale in Uganda which was our night stop before crossing the border.
This might end up winning the award (if there is one 😉 ) for the country we rode the least. We only did about 314 kilometers in total.
BORDER CROSSING 2 OF THE TRIP.
We had spent the night only 18 kilometers from the border. We arrived at the border early which was a really good thing. Kabale to Kigali is about 115 kilometers. So, it was a pretty short ride for the day.
At the border, Uganda immigration and Rwanda are very separate but not far apart. Being in the morning, we did not find many people but there was more than we found at Busia. There are people who cross the border from either of the two countries (Uganda and Rwanda) for work and have to go through the immigration although their paperwork processing is different. There were also trucks that had arrived early and a bus or two had arrived as well.
We cleared with Uganda side for exit and then went down to the Rwanda side. We joined the line for the immigration desk and as soon as we were done, we headed for the customs. Cleared the bikes and went to the security desk to get our gate pass. Make sure you pick a gate pass to exit the border as you enter Rwanda. There is a barrier and the security will not let you out if you don’t have the gate pass.
THE SURPRISE MOMENT.
In Rwanda you drive on the right side while in Kenya and Uganda you drive on the left. So, picture our brief moment of surprise. You must be wondering why if we already knew this – right? Once you pass the barrier to enter Rwanda, you do not switch from left to right immediately. There is about 500 meters you drive on the left then have to switch to the right. Wamuyu was leading and although she was aware of the short distance, a truck just appeared from downhill and there were instant breaks right there. Anyway, he gave us way and we switched lanes. And that was our welcome to Rwanda moment.
RIDE TO KIGALI
After switching to the right lane – right side, we were all ready for the 97 kilometers to Kigali. It was going to be a slow ride. From the border to Kigali is all down hills. No climbing but descending.
The speed limit on the road is maximum 60 KPH and lowest 40 KPH. There are blind corners and sharp bends almost every 800 meters to a kilometer. Our estimate may be wrong but that was the feeling we got on the road. That explains why the speed limits are set that low. In Kenya we have 50 KPH within cities, towns, shopping centers, near schools and hospitals. The road is very good tarmac and very scenic. Kigali is a city of a thousand hills and you can imagine the feel going down the hills with a magnificent view from the top. It took Wamuyu a longer time to get used to the right-hand side driving and every time a car showed up from a corner. She freaked out. Otherwise the ride was smooth all the way till we got in to the city and were welcomed by a roundabout. A pretty confusing moment right there and we almost made a serious mistake. Luckily, a motorist right in front of us noticed our dilemma and stopped. He offered to lead us and even blocked traffic for us. Once he made sure we were in a safe place, he stopped and asked where we were going. We informed him we were meeting someone at a particular place in down town. He called the gentleman on our behalf, confirmed the location and offered to pay a boda boda to take us there. God always sends angels your way.
WELCOME TO RWANDA BY REUTERS MEDIA HOUSE.
A night before leaving Kabale, we received and email from Reuters saying they would like to cover our stay in Rwanda. We got it just right on time. The “someone” we were to meet at a particular place is the very kind Reuters journalist in Kigali.
We arrive at our meet up point and in a short time him and his colleague arrive, and the interviews begun. Once the interview was done, it was time to go to our hotel which we had earlier been recommended. Unfortunately, everyone we asked said they don’t know it including the journalist. He was kind enough to recommend another hotel. He took us there and also negotiated for a good rate for us. This was really very kind of him.
Once we settled in to our very cozy room, we planned the rest of the interviews and coverages for the next couple of days were going to be in Uganda. There was going to be a cricket match and Kenya was playing and that was one of the events we really wanted to catch.
GETTING AROUND IN RWANDA.
When we think of Kigali roads, we have the image of a web in mind. First, you drive on the right-hand side and besides that, the road network is like a web. We went to many places but could still not figure out the route back to the hotel. We therefore decided we were not going to ride in Kigali. A decision that we did not honour to the full. Once a biker always a biker.
In-case you visit Rwanda and find yourself in a situation like ours of getting lost in Kigali don’t be worried, the boda boda’s in Kigali are the perfect alternative. There is not Uber, Taxify, Little cab or any of those taxis you find on an App. Sorry . There are the yellow line taxis but very few and not easy to find. There is also public transport but to specific areas.
The Boda Boda’s of Kigali are not your usual boda guys – no, scrap that. They are organized, clean, have helmets for passengers and only carry one passenger at a time. If you are two people and stop a boda boda, he stops a second one and the price is agreed before you leave. They also confirm that the other boda boda rider understands where the passenger is going and also knows the route there.
The rider and the pillion MUST wear helmets and they follow traffic laws to the letter. If driving in Rwanda, NOTE – you cannot have your wheels touch the zebra crossing. That is a traffic offense.
MEETING THE RWANDA BIKERS.
The love among bikers is an envy for many. Kudos to the world-wide family.
While in Uganda, we got in touch with the President of Kigali Bikers (Cedric). Cedric spoke to us on daily basis and ensured we were comfortable and progressing well. He organized a meet up over the weekend. We had the Friday night out and on Saturday we rode to the cricket match after which Cedric hosted us to a sumptuous lunch at his house. Whoop whoop! Kigali is such a blast.
Reuters covered this Saturday ride, the cricket match and the lunch. We understand this particular coverage was aired on K24
TO MEETING AND MAKING LIFELONG FRIENDS.
Have you ever met someone, and the feeling is more like, where have you been brother/sister? You feel like you have known them all your life but one of you have been hiding from the other? We found ourselves in the situation. That was the feeling when we met Naledi and Godfrey. A couple that rides together too. From the first day we met during the Friday night out, we connected and spent amazing time together during our stay in Kigali. We are a bit emotional writing about this right now. These two made our stay the most amazing experience we have had. They accommodated us, fed us, gifted us, spent loads of time with us, took us to places and we can never thank them enough for their kindness and generosity.
THANK YOU SO MUCH NALEDI AND GODFREY, MAY GOD RICHLY REWARD YOU, MAY YOU NEVER LACK.
THE GENOCIDE MEMORIAL.
We all along knew we were going to visit the genocide memorial. There is no amount of preparation that will have you ready and comfortable for the experience. It was the first place we visited in Rwanda and we are grateful we did that because, you get to understand the cultural context which makes it easy to travel the country and understand the people. Entry is free and the only thing you pay for is the audio guide equipment and taking pictures inside the memorial.
– The audio guide equipment – USD 5/=
– Taking pictures inside the museum – USD 10/-
– Taking pictures outside in the compound i.e. grave area is FREE.
This should be a MUST visit for everyone who visits Rwanda. Carry enough soft tissues or a number of handkerchiefs. The experience is going to initiate a mix of emotions. You may lose faith in humanity, you may appreciate what you have, you may be filled with bitterness and will cry most likely through the entire time at the memorial. One thing that is for sure, you will leave there changed. Spare about 2-3 hours for the visit to the memorial. Brave yourself for wall displays of photos, video footage, weapons used during the genocide, human skulls and bones and the most heart wrenching children’s memorial.
The outdoor exhibit has the mass grave sites and some beautiful gardens that seem to offer some peace after the heart-wrenching experience. People from Rwanda come here every day to mourn and reconnect with their families – one of the Rwandese told us. “We bring flowers, we have quiet moments with our families here”. We saw baskets of flowers, roses and some single ones too. Visitors are also allowed to place flowers to honour those that died.
There is then the black marble wall etched with the names of those who died.
There is a coffee shop in the memorial which is a nice way to calm down and relax.
Make sure to make a donation. The memorial relies on monetary gifts to maintain it.
We decided not to share pictures of the memorial.
VISITING THE KENYAN HIGH COMMISSION.
We paid a visit to the Kenyan High Commission. We walked in without an appointment and we were really fortunate to be able to get some time with The Ambassador John Mwangemi from his busy schedule.
Like we told you in our previous post, Embassies are for the people. There is so much to learn. We think we converted the Ambassador. We look forward to the ride soon 😉
THE RWANDA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTER.
This is basically like our KENYA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTER. Why does it make for a tourist attraction site or place to visit? It’s simply a good, well thought, well planned, well executed piece of Art. Opened in 2016, you can be sure it comes with some of the very best modern technology. It is dome shaped and has very beautiful lighting in the night that changes to multiple colours.
We had wanted to see this place so much both in the day and night to just enjoy the lighting. However, there was another important reason that we had to go to the conference center. We were meeting our friend, fellow Kenyan biker lady Kui Bett. You have no idea what it is like to meet people from home when traveling, or maybe you do, and you understand how important this was.
VISITING LAKE MUHANZI
The most popular lake to visit in Rwanda is Lake Kivu which is between the DRC and Rwanda. We however did not visit this lake. Our friends Naledi and Godfrey suggested we go to Lake Muhazi and they actually drove us there. It’s about 40 minutes to an hour’s drive. There is a section of the road that is not good, but this is being repaired or they are putting a brand-new road all together. The Lake is in the Eastern province of Rwanda.
There is a nice restaurant by the lake and lunch is served by the lake shores if you like. We took one of those lake shores tables. We had whole fish and chips ;). The fish is big, and the chips portions are large so just make sure you are hungry enough when going there. It’s a great place for relaxing and we enjoyed the sunset. This marked our lovely stay in Rwanda.
Our plan was to leave Kigali and ride to Kahama on this day as there was nowhere else on that route to stay. That was going to be a cool 539 kilometers in a day. We started early for the ride, had Reuters cover our ride out and we must say that was a wonderful escort.
The ride was all good till we go to Kayonza. The road constructions begun. We had been told it’s a short section but turned out to be all the way to the border. There were sections of scraped off roads, tarmac with potholes and dug up sections. This was one hot, dusty and long day. In the end, we could not make it to Kahama and only covered 307 kilometers in more than 8 hours.
Keep It here to hear about the border crossing at Rusumo, and the rest of the days experience.
We bid farewell to the coolest kid in Africa – Rwanda