Land Of A Thousand Hills

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Rwanda is often referred to as land of a thousand hills.

It is, constantly going up and down. Every peak bringing another view of more hills and it is beautiful. The lush green with the red clay offers stunning views. I had expected Rwanda to be beautiful but it far exceeded my expectations.

Where are the screaming kids?

Rwanda Baby

There were children everywhere in Rwanda but I never heard screaming kids, kids having a temper tantrum, even a crying baby. Perhaps it’s because the younger babies are tied to their mother’s backs.

You see this all the time, the Mom is happily going about her day and the little one is just safely hanging out. Sleeping or looking around without a care in the world. Safely bundled into the blanket that is tied to the Mom. Little feet and hands sticking out, it totally amazed me how happy they appeared.

Then the older ones are curious, they wave and many love having their picture taken. They love to see their picture like this little guy.

Little Picture Guy Rwanda

After seeing his picture he seemed to look back at his sister with a see I told you I was handsome look.

Little Picture Guy Rwanda

 

There was one little guy in a red sweater with a big smile who came running up to our bus and threw his hands in the air while yelling “GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY!” Then stood with his hands out. Well might as well try the direct approach, he didn’t get any money and I missed the picture.

Always keep your camera out, the moment you put it away something interesting will happen ……. every time.

Market Kigali

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We went to a market in Kigali and as usual I felt overwhelmed.

I’m a browser, I like to look at things and think about my purchases. In the market it’s the hard sell. It’s impossible to just browse without somebody trying to sell you whatever you are looking at. In the end I didn’t get anything, I’m don’t buy many souvenirs but in our group people did walk away with a leather hat, some straw bowls, earrings and some soap stone animals.

As we travelled further on our journey it became apparent that the market in Kigali was a really good deal. The prices went up in Uganda and then again in Kenya.

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My favourite were the colourful beans, they almost look like a big bowl of smarties (and I love smarties).

Beans

They let me take a picture no problem and many pictures were fine but there were several women carrying items on their head just outside the market and they wanted to be paid for their picture. Not much and one in our group did pay them.

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Gorilla Sticks His Tongue Out

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Timing is everything with animal photos. The above photo is one of my favourites and I was lucky to get it. Animals don’t pose, they move, they seem to sense when you’re going to take a photo and suddenly turn away. I also had a fairly new camera and was still getting used to it. Perhaps I should have spent a bit more time with it before I went on the trip but I have no complaints. I’m happy with the photos that I did get.

Look yoga gorilla:

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More gorillas….. so incredible:

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Then after an hour it was time for them to leave:

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More Gorillas – How you doing?

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The big guy was a sexy beast.

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More photos from my trip to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Which seems to be what people are interested in, more than anything I have to say.

About the trek, do wear good shoes the hike to see the Gorillas can take awhile and the trek can be slippery and parts are quite steep. Do hire a porter, our porter was amazing and so helpful, well worth the ten American dollars. Take water and food, our hike was over an hour and a half each way and we stopped for lunch in a lovely clearing. Sunscreen should go without saying and tuck your pants into your socks so that the ants can’t get in and bite you. One girl was bitten by a fire ant and it looked nasty. Careful what you touch along the path, many in our group wore gloves to protect their hands from the stinging nettles and there are a lot of stinging nettles. ENJOY the journey, the park is beautiful. Take the time along the way to look at the park and appreciate where you are.

Take lots of photos of the gorillas, they are AMAZING

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Gorillas

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You do get really close to the Gorillas.

So on Friday I gave a sneak peek of the Gorillas with this photo:

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Still my favourite. So cute but the whole experience was unbelievable. When choosing my trip to Africa and faced with so many choices of where to go it was the Gorillas that were my number one priority. After looking at so many tours I chose an Exodus tour that started in Rwanda. A country I really wanted to see and from the reviews sounded like the perfect place to see the Gorillas.

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Seeing them for the first time was surreal. I couldn’t believe that I was actually standing in Volcanoes National Park looking at Gorillas in the clearing. For the first few minutes I forgot to take pictures and through the one hour visit I often forgot to take photos. They are just so amazing to watch. To hear them grunting at each other, watch them push each other groom each other and a mom and baby. I just stood and went “Awwww” before remembering I had a camera with me.

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Everyone in the group was excited and even after the hour was up we all spoke excitedly about the gorillas and were all smiling. It was an incredible experience and worth every penny.

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Baby Gorilla

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Can I take him home?

My favourite photo taken of the gorillas. A little toddler who was so entertaining, he rolled and wobbled around and then sat and ate some grass.

With a hat and some sunglasses I think I could have snuck him out.

Volcanoes National Park

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The biggest reason I wanted to go to East Africa, Gorillas. There are two choices to see Gorillas, Rwanda or Uganda. I chose Rwanda.

Heading out to Volcanoes National Park I was really excited, months of anticipation and soon I would be hiking to see the Gorillas. I was going to see them in person. When you get to the park you are briefed on how to act around the Gorillas, how close you can get and are then put into a group of eight to head out to see your chosen group.

You have input on the length of walk but not much on which group you will see. My group was for a medium length walk to go see the Ntambara group. Then you get assigned a porter to help you on the hike. The porter is well worth the ten American dollars. My porter pulled me up some steep, slippery inclines, helped me avoid the stinging nettles and also reminded me to look at the beautiful views. He also carried my backpack, he was awesome.

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The hike is part of the journey and take it all in, Volcanoes National Park is a stunningly beautiful place.

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Seeing the gorillas for the first time, I actually squealed. After hiking for just over an hour and a half there was a clearing and there they were. It is hard to believe how close you can get to them, you can hear them chewing the bamboo.

The guys who over saw the gorillas and kept us at a safe distance:

Gorilla Group

My first view of the gorillas:

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