Rawanda was one of the biggest surprises of the trip so far. A green undulating country with fertile soil, rivers, lakes and friendly people.
After Tanzania’s rural, muddy and remote travels it was a glorious change of scenery to see such a lovely run country with well kept fields, pothole free roads and many smiling faces. The food is lovely and the amazing roads curving around the beautiful lush green landscape is perfect for motorcycles!
We got the opportunity to sleep in a nice warm bed and eat buffet meals before we made our way to the capital of the country Kigali. In Kigali we stayed at Discover Rawanda Youth Hostel where we met owners of another backpackers in the North of the country.
I had another fork seal go on my front shocks due to the ridiculous off-roading done to enter the country, so had to do a quick bit of mechanics before we went out to discover the capital.
We met the youth of Kigali in the local art scene which is a bustling creative hub of African artistic expression. The materials used are generally freely available and the results more often than not, astounding!
After a day of arts and crafts we made our way to the Rawanda Genocide Memorial Museaum. This is probably the most well known thing about Rawanda and is also one of the most recent genocides in human history and therefore still leaves a gloomy shroud over perceptions of the country.
The horrific images and scenes portrayed in the museum insure that people know the atrocities committed during this era and ensure that nothing like this occurs again. The country has many institutes to educate people about the horrors endured by the country and proposes a peaceful way forward. However, while travelling in the country you would not imagine that this occurred 20 years ago. The country is one of the best run and most developed countries in Central Africa and definitely worth visiting.
While we were in the town Tom managed to infiltrate the factory one of Africa’s unique products: The Tyre Slop. Tom went into the workshop where these shoes are produced from recycles truck tires.
The finished product is a 100 % recycled and incredibly durable pair of slops that will last much longer than any pair of shoes you can purchase at any store. They have also been souped up by the Kigali art scene to be more funky and fashionable.
This concluded our stay in the capital. Travelling north we made our way to The Volcanoes National Park to stay at the best backpackers in the whole of Central Africa: Red Rocks Rwanda. This establishment has what is probably the best system for sustainable tourism in Rwanda. Nestled in the town at the base of three huge volcaino’s, this gem has a wonderful camping area, engaging cultural activities as well as participation in the local banana beer production.
The local dancers were full of energy and kept attempting to entice you to join in.
During the banana beer production the locals make music to assist and motivate the people mashing the banana’s (Mike and Myself) in the grass. Mashing banana’s with grass is much more difficult than it sounds, luckily Istene quickly put her dancing skills into play during the motivational music.
Tom also had his hand at banana smashing and attempted the odd pickup line.
The banana juice is then filtered and left to ferment for three days after which it has gained the attributes mentioned in the below video.
Mike and I tried our hand at grinding down the local grains.
The campsite was full of oddities,but was a great place for Tom and Mike to hunt down some illusive short circuits on Tom’s bike. This was noticed when Tom’s bike (Frankenstein) began smoking and catching flame.
Once Tom had rewired his mechanical monster we were ready to get on the road, but before we left we had to acquire some extremely rare cheese from down the road. Below is a view of the local cheese “factory” and a volcano in the background. The areas around Red Rocks are lovely, friendly and safe.
We were excited to continue travelling and felt content that we had had a good insight into the landscapes, cultures, history and joys that Rwanda had to offer. The time had come to travel to Uganda and see more of Central Africa’s Great Lakes.
Trent Seiler &
The Nitty Gritty Nomads