Day 2 - Touch-down in Kigali

Jeffrey Whiting
November 25, 2010 share
Artists for Conservation Flag Expedition 11

November 23: Our first 24 hours in Rwanda was also a first lesson in flexibility. We arrived at Kigali airport just shy of midnight, Kigali time. A short walk across the tarmack we couldn't help but notice that the temperature and humidity were a perfect comfort level, jet exhaust aside.

As it turns out, a new Rwandan visa requirement policy came into effect for Canadians in early November. Previous to this, there was no visa requirement for Canadians in Rwanda and as we had booked our travel months ago, we were caught be complete surprise. Obviously we weren't the first since after a brief delay, and $60 USD, we were off to the races... sort of.

We caught a shuttle to our hotel at Golf Hills Residence in Kigali by 1:15am... Very clean, friendly and comfortable and $80/room even if shared.

All was fine as I laid down for a sleep, but minutes later my eyelids flung open with the realization I don't have a visa to re-enter Rwanda after our upcoming trip to Democratic Republic of Congo. I spent the rest of the night researching the bejeebers out of the new system and attempted to assess all possible options. By 5am, I had submitted a new visa entry request, with a minimum 3-day processing time. We are to leave in 3 ½ days.

We headed out in a rental 4x4 to meet our new friends at MGVP in Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri) - a 2 ½ hour drive across spectacularly steep hilly landscape.

Musanze is lovely and our greeting at MGVP headquarters by veterinarian Magdalena and administrator Shadrak, was even more lovely. We learned of an emergency mobilization of MGVP staff to rescue and treat a young male gorilla caught in a snare (around its neck). Dr. Mike Cranfield, Executive Director of the MGVP was out having joined the rescue.

To bed by 9:30 for an early morning departure to see the Golden Monkeys in Volcano National Park.


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