19 Jun Sunset Over the Serengeti
Back in Nairobi excitedly awaiting the arrival of the OGEA 2010 team! I have already met with NaYeon one of our participants who has been in East Africa on a school trip for the past 3 weeks and is a veritable Nairobi veteran.
After leaving Kampala I took an impromptu detour to Lake Bunyonyi near the town of Kabale by the Uganda/Rwanda border. I highly recommend this destination to everyone planning to travel back this direction on ITT. The lake is situated in a volcanic crater and is covered in mist every morning that clears midday to reveal lush green mountains and pristine water (no Bilharzia so you can swim here!) After 2 days of long swims and fresh caught crayfish dinners I made my way to Kigali.
Kigali is by far the tidiest city I have ever been to in four years of travel in Africa. People literally sweep the streets clean, and the infrastructure is impressive. I was in the midst of reading Shake Hands with the Devil while I was here and it was surreal to be sitting in the garden of the Hostel de St Famille where the group will stay while we are here only to read about the massacre that occurred in this very place in 1994. In our short time in Kigali the group will have a lot of freedom to explore the city at their own pace. Everyone is encouraged to visit the genocide memorial. I met with the directors of several Environmental NGO’s as well as a collection of conservation ministers. As the official source of the Nile comes from Rwanda conservation and water resource management is a big deal here. In the evenings I went to a hidden away bar called Bel Air that is on the third floor past a tailoring shop that never sleeps. Maurice a friendly rasta businessman is there every night with a hearty spread of beans, rice, meat and veggies on buffet, and the World Cup games are on every night. Take on the local pool sharks if you dare, but beware they play for money and they are uncannily good.
Take Note: In Rwanda there is nowhere to take out money from ATMs because they still do not accept visa cards.
From Kigali I took a long an arduous trip to Mwanza through the Rusumu Border town in what can best be described as 9 hours in a vehicle with 8 seats filled with 14 people on semi paved roads. After a night in Kahama I boarded a bus with a ticket and a seat to myself and made it to Mwanza to be greeted warmly by the chairpersons of FOU Fishers Union Organization. We spent 3 days planning the documentary that the grou will assist in making of the causes and effects of deforestation, erosion and pollution on the islands of Lake Victoria in the Sengarema District. I can hardly express how beautiful Mwanza is. As Tanzania’s second largest city it has maintained a very low key vibe and is scattered with giant boulders and breathtaking views of the lake.
From Mwanza I took a bus to the Sirari Border. The road meets up with the western border of the famous Serengeti National park for a few miles and we hit it right at sunset. Speeding past zebras and wildebeest grazing on the flat savannah among shrubs and acacia trees put a smile on my face that has yet to leave.
It has been an adventure traveling alone in East Africa and I have made many friends and had innumerable fantastic experiences. Now I am settled into the Nairobi International Youth Hostel where the group will stay during the in-country orientation. Luke and Emmanuel our local participants will be joining me on the 21st to greet the group and then the adventure really begins. Once Ronan lands with the rest of the volunteers and gets a SIM card we will add his information to the contact page.
Stay tuned for more blogging. We will have different group members writing the blog each week so this is me signing off for a while.