Thursday, February 27, 2014

One Step Forward + Trip Itinerary

Hello everyone! So good news, we received the first chunk of the funding needed to go to Rwanda! This is a big first step and is making the trip an even bigger reality. I wanted to let everyone know and post a tentative itinerary for the trip.

I'm also looking for additional funding to help cover the cost of the trip. If you'd like to help my gofundme page is linked on the side and I'm accepting donations. Thanks!

Perliminary Itinerary (may change when travel contracts are signed):

 Day 1: 29th May 2014: Pickup from Kigali International Airport

On arrival at Kigali International Airport, we will be met by our driver/guide and be transferred to Chez Lando Hotel for overnight.

Day 2: 30th May 2014: Natural History Museum

After breakfast we will depart for the Natural History Museum. Also known as 'Kandt House,' this museum is dedicated to Dr. Richard Kandt, a German doctor and explorer who embarked on an exploration of Rwanda in 1897, searching for the source of the Nile River. The Natural History Museum aims at explaining the richness of Rwanda's Nature. The idea being that it is only through the knowledge of the nature we live in that our behavior and understanding will change. This museum showcases many specimens and replica of the natural wonders of the country. Later return to Chez Lando for lunch and an overnight stay.

Day 3: 31st May 2014: Gisozi Memorial Site

After breakfast we will visit the Gisozi memorial centre. Also known as the Kigali Memorial Centre, this is the site of the burial for around 250,000 victims of the genocide and comprises a main historical exhibition, a Children's Memorial exhibition and an exhibition on comparative genocide, called Wasted Lives. It also has over four acres of memorial gardens containing ten mass graves, as well as the National Genocide Documentation Centre. Later return to Chez Lando for lunch and another overnight stay.

Day 4: 1st June 2014: Millennium Village Visit + Nyamata & Ntarama Memorial Sites Visit

After breakfast depart for the Millenium Village cluster located in Mayange, a sector of Bugesera District located about 40 km (about 25 miles) south of the capital, Kigali. In a country known as the "pays des Milles collines" ("land of 1,000 hills"), the terrain around Mayange is flatter and drier than most of Rwanda. The area suffers from sporadic rainfall and declining soil fertility, leading to endemic poverty, illness, and a lack of economic opportunity. The project began working with an initial 5,000 people in Kagenge, one of Mayange's five subdivisions in early 2006. The population was facing impending famine because of failing rains and a poor harvest the year before, and the health center was severely lacking in staff, medicines, equipment, and supplies, and had no electricity or running water. Have lunch then depart for the Ntarama church where mass killings occurred during the 1994 genocide; more than 5,000 people were killed in the church. The Ntarama Genocide Memorial is located about 30 km (about 19 mi) south of the capital city of Kigali. Located in the Bugasera region, this church and its contents are a reminder of the horrifying violence that took place at this site during Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Learn more about the unity and reconciliation commission. Proceed to Nyamata memorial site - a church were around 2,500 people were killed that has become emblematic of the barbaric treatment of women during the genocide. In the church at Nyamata, there will be graphic and audio-visual displays that will focus particularly on the mass rape, brutalization of women and the use of HIV as a deliberate weapon of genocide. Return to Kigali for overnight at the Chez Lando.

Day 5: 2nd June 2014: Depart for Butare + Butare Museum Visit

After breakfast depart for Butare and visit the National museum of Butare which was donated in 1989 by the Belgium government with some ethnic collections; the design and concept all realized in co-operation with the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren in Belgium. Ethnographic objects are grouped together in themes giving information on daily life. Traditional ceramics and basketry are still manufactured and are among the finest handicrafts of the region. The National Museum remained surprisingly untouched during the civil war and genocide. Continue on to 4Step hotel arriving for overnight. 

Day 6: 3rd June 2014: Kings Palace + Nyanza Genocide Museum

After breakfast visit the King's Palace Museum-Rukari. This was the residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa and the palace offers a detailed look into the traditional Rwandan seat of their monarchy. It is an impressive museum, restored to its 19th century state and made entirely with traditional materials. Recently traditional long horned cows, known in Kinyarwanda as "Inyambo" were also introduced as cows form in integral part of Rwandan Culture. On the neighbouring hill of Mwima, one can also visit the burial grounds of King Mutara III and his wife Queen Rosalie Gicanda. Later continue to Nyanza genocide museum. A the start of the genocide in April 1994, over 2,000 Tutsis took refuge in ETO school on the outskirts of Kigali, protected by the United Nations Peace Keeping force. Following the withdrawal of the UN, refugees were marched up the road to Nyanza where they were all butchered. Today, this site, marked by simple wooden crosses, is symbolic of the abandonment of Rwanda by the International Community. Each year on April 11th, a memorial ceremony takes place on the site where the deserted refugees were murdered in cold blood. Later return to 4Steps hotel. 

Day 7: 4th June 2014: Pilgrimage Tour in Kibeho + Murambi Memorial Visit

After an early breakfast we will depart to Kibeho for a guided visit to some of the main sites. We will start with a visit to the Kibeho Church and shrine of "Our Lady of Kibeho." We then travel to Nyarushishi hill to see the magnificent statue of Christ, called the Devine Mercy Statue. The history of the statue began in February of 2000 in Chicago in the United States. Four years later in August 2004, it found its way to the "Country of a Thousand Hills," Rwanda where it has remained ever since. We will have lunch in Butare and depart for Murambi memorial centre, a school where 27,000 people were killed. A stark, shocking monument, hundreds of courpses are temporarily preserved and currently displayed in the school. The memorial has been developed as a permanent exhibition to the genocide. It documents the period from pre-colonial times to the more recent history of the 1994 genocide. The design focuses on developing a memorial form which the school children and local community can benefit. Later reutrn to 4Step hotel for overnight.

Day 8: 5th June 2014: National University of Rwanda Activities

After breakfast we will be transferred to the National University of Rwanda for our own activities. Overnight in 4Step Hotel.

Day 9: 6th June 2014: Lecture Day

After breakfast we will be transferred to the National University of Rwanda for our own activities. Overnight in 4Step Hotel.

Day 10: 7th June 2014: Chimpanzee Tracking

Take a very early morning breakfast, then depart with your packed lunches/snacks by 3:30am in the morning to Nyungwe National park and on to the starting point of our chimpanzee trek. Two species of chimpanzee occur in Africa - the Bonobo and the Common Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes. The largest remaining populations occur in central Africa (Gabon, DR Congo, and Cameroon). Numbering only around 400 individuals, the population in Rwanda is an endangered one. Nyungwe National Park is the largest block of montane forest in East and Central Africa and it is an incredibly rich area of biodiversity. Return for overnight at the Kitabi College.

Day 11: 8th June 2014: Nature Walk & Canopy Walk

After an early breakfast, and with our packed lunches, we will depart for our nature walk visiting Kamiranzovu waterfall. The forest comprises amongst many things at least 200 tree species, over 280 bird species and more than 100 different types of colorful butterfly which make it a true feast of the senses for the nature lover. After lunch then proceed for a canopy walk set 50 meters (about 165 feet) above the ground with a 150 meter (about 492 feet) walkway - the first of its kind in East Africa and third on the continent after South Africa and Ghana. The raised walk allows visitors to see the forest from above the trees and be at eye level with birds and monkeys that inhabit the upper storeys of the forest. Return for overnight at the Kitabi College.

Day 12: 9th June 2014: Colobus Monkey Tracking:

After breakfast with packed lunches we will again head to Nyungwe National Park and this time we will have to opportunity do do some Colobus monkey trekking. The most famous of Nyungwe's primates is the Ruwenzori colobus, a race of the further wide spread Angola colobus which is confined to the Albertine Rift. The Ruwenzori colobus is extremely arboreal as well as an acrobatic leaf-eater, simply differentiated from any different primate discovered in Nyungwe by its contrasting black general color in addition to snow-white whiskers, shoulders plus tail tip. Return for overnight at Kitabi College.

Day 13: 10th June 2014: Bisesero Memorial Visit + Depart for Kibuye

After breakfast we will depart for the Bisesero Memorial site (currently closed for renovation, but scheduled to reopen in June), then continue to Kibuye arriving for check in and lunch at our hotel. Kibuye town, which lies at the eastern tip of Lake Kivu is often hailed as the most impressive and scenic spot of the lake. Deeply incised creeks, towering mountain ranges, and islands offer a magnificent panorama. Take a boat trip to the island of Amahoro Napoleon's island. Later return for overnight at Bethany Guest house. 

Day 14: 11th June 2014: Depart for Gisenyi

After breakfast we will continue on to Gisenyi, Rwanda, the largest port on Lake Kivu Gisenyi arriving in time for check in and lunch at the Pardis Malahide hotel. The day is spend in Gisenyi, the largest port on the Rwandan shore of Lake Kivu. Enjoy a boat ride to one of the islands in Lake Kivu or take a swim in the lake. Simply explore the town, enjoying the hustle and bustle of the local market or wander through the leafy streets admiring the old colonial buildings. Or just relax and admire the view from your hotel. Later stay for overnight at the Paradis Malahide.

Day 15: 12th June 2014: Depart for Ruhengeri + Ibywacu Village Visit

After breakfast you will depart for Ruhengeri with a stop at the Imbabazi orphanage. Rosamond Halsey Carr (1912 - 2006) founded the Imbabazi Orphanage in 1994. Since that time Roz and her staff have cared for more than 400 children but the children's home was closed down by the government owing to the fact that this does not match Rwandan beliefs. However, all the children are now adults and have guardians following up with them. Roz wrote the book "Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda," with her niece, Ann Howard Halsey, chronicling her love affair with one of the world's most beautiful and tormented regions. She is also the 2004 recipient of the Volvo for Life Award and a movie chronicling her life is currently in production. Take a walk around the homestead and also get to see many of the flowers she planted. Have a cup of tea/coffee as you wat the Ibi iwacu local dancers and enjoy the traditional way of local entertainment. You'll later be given an opportunity to join in the dance. Continue to Ruhengeri arriving for check in at the Amahoro Guest House. Have lunch and then depart for Kinigi to visit the Kagano community village and learn why the community left the Volcanoes National Park. Return to Amahoro guest house for overnight. 

Day 16: 13th June 2014: Golden Monkey Tracking + Twins Lakes Visit + Intercultural Exchange

Today we set out for Golden Monkey tracking in the Volcanoes National Park. Entering dense stands of bamboo interspersed with open glades, we will make our way deep into golden monkey territory. Guides lead visitors to the habitat of groups of 'habituated' golden monkeys - monkeys that have become accustomed to human presence. Though viewing is kept to a maximum of one hour, travelers can get an up-close look at the golden monkey in its natural habitat. Adult monkeys frolic in plain view, feeding on bamoo leaves and leaping from perch to perch. Females carry their young, completely comfortable among onlookers. 
Continue to the twin lakes of Bulera & Ruhondo. These are beautiful lakes located at the base of volcano Muhabura and close to the border with Uganda. They are surrounded by steep hills and large waterfalls with a backdrop of the Virunga volcanic mountains. These twin lakes are great spots to be visited and used to be referred to as neglected gems, though they are now attracting more visitors. Their deep blue waters are ringed by steep hills and tall waterfalls with the outlines of the nearby Virunga Volcanoes providing a spectacular backdrop. Take a boat transfer to Ruhondo beach for lunch then later if time permits take a trip to the local brew makers to understand the chemistry and process of brewing a local beer made from bananas. If we choose, we an join the women in squeezing the juice out of the bananas and drink a glass of juice. We will learn how long juice take to turn into alcohol after adding in sorghum flour and enjoy a big glass of the local brew. Among other activities, the community also does basket weaving and these visits help support eh families financially. Later return for overnight at Amahoro guest house.

Day 17: 14th June 2014: Buhanga Eco Park + Musanze Memorial Site + Musanze Caves

After breakfast we will depart for the Buhanga Eco park, a small patch of forest 8km (about 5 miles) out of Musanze. The forest is dominated by magnificent dragon trees and is home to a number of exquisite birds. Return to town with a stop at the Musanze memorial site where 402 victims of the 1994 Genocide were given a decent burial. However, preparations are in advanced stages to enable commencement of reburbishement work on the district memorial site which is currently not in a good state. Have lunch and then depart for the Nusanze caves. Overnight at Amahoro Guest House.

Day 18: 15th June 2014: Depart for Kigali + Lecture Day

After breakfast we will depart for the 2 hour drive to Kigali with the rest of the day spent on our own arrangements. Transfer to Chez Lando for an overnight.

Day 19: 16th June 2014: Depart

After breakfast we will go to the Kigali International airport for our flight back home.

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