Goodbye Rwanda

June 16…

After a good nights sleep Josh and I drove to Kigali to catch our flight to Tanzania to take on our next challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro.

We had a short visit to the market on the way to the airport, which was a hive of activity.

We said good bye and thanks to Aimable our tour guide who took great care of us.

Rwanda was a memorable experience with incredible scenery, challenging mountains and of course the Gorillas…we will definitely return…

Leaving Mountain View Gorilla Lodge

Leaving Mountain View Gorilla Lodge

View from Lodge

View from Lodge

Visiting market in Kigali

Visiting market in Kigali

Visiting market in Kigali

Visiting market in Kigali

Visiting market in Kigali

Visiting market in Kigali

Kigali Airport

Kigali Airport

Time to go

Time to go

 

Karisimbi Descent

After enjoying a nice half hour on the summit we descended back to our camp at 3700m and them immediately headed back down to the park gate.

With a total descent of around 2200m we were feeling pretty tired by the time we reached the park gate.

We said our goodbyes to our team of porters, cook and park guide and thanked the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) platoon for their company.

Time for a hot shower and a good meal…

Josh and Tony with 2nd Lieutenant Mukamba of the RDF

Josh and Tony with 2nd Lieutenant Mukamba of the RDF

The descent of Karasimbi

The descent of Karasimbi

View of Karasimbi Crater

View of Karasimbi Crater

On the Summit

At around 9.30am we finally reached the summit of Karasimbi (4507m). It was a perfect day and with reasonably good visibility we got some great summit pics with our team.

Josh on the summit with our  RDF escort and guide.

Josh on the summit with our RDF escort and guide.

Looking into the DRC from Karasimbi

Looking into the DRC from Karasimbi

Josh and Bosco flying the Bridgehouse flag

Josh and Bosco flying the Bridgehouse flag

Our summit team

Our summit team

Our RDF escort

Our RDF escort

Summit Fever

Feeling the altitude we made slow progress to the summit. We finally emerged from the thick vegetation to a relatively straight forward final ascent to the summit, which was characterised by a lot of loose rock and fine volanic ash.

The summit does unfortunately have a huge Radio/TV antenna on top, but the views were amazing.

We had fantastic views of Muhabura, which is an extinct volcano on the border between Rwanda and Uganda.

At 4,127 m, Muhabura is the third highest of the eight major mountains of the mountain range, which is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift. Muhabura lies partly in Volcanoes National ParkRwanda and partly in Mgahinga Gorilla National ParkUganda.

Josh on the way to the summit

Josh on the way to the summit

Great view of Muhabura

Great view of Muhabura

Josh and Bosco just below summit of Karasimbi (Radio/TV tower in the background)

Josh and Bosco just below summit of Karasimbi (Radio/TV tower in the background)

Depart for Summit of Karisimbi

We decided to have a proper breakfast and Michele our cook made us a great omelette with some toast and a cup of coffee (hot chocolate for Josh).

At around 6am we started our ascent towards the summit, which was about an hour later than planned. However, the weather looked perfect and we had plenty of time to get back down the mountain.

The ascent proved to be very steep and at times the trail went through very thick jungle. From around 4000m we started to feel the altitude and decided to pace our selves accordingly.

Mount Muhabura as seen from Karisimbi

Mount Muhabura as seen from Karisimbi

View on summit day

View on summit day

View of summit from Karisimbi camp

View of summit from Karisimbi camp

Vegetation on Karisimbi

Vegetation on Karisimbi

Josh navigating the thick terrain on Karisimbi

Josh navigating the thick terrain on Karisimbi

View of Bisoke volcano

View of Bisoke volcano

Vegetation on Karisimbi

Vegetation on Karisimbi

Bosco our park guide and one of our porters

Bosco our park guide and one of our porters

Update to follow.

Dinner on Karisimbi

After getting to camp we set up our tent and got organised for the next day. Our cook made us an amazing dinner of chicken, rice and vegetables with some Pringles chips as an appetizer.

It turned out to be a bitterly cold night and we did not get much sleep, but this was not unexpected.

Josh getting ready for a long cold night on Karisimbi

Josh getting ready for a long cold night on Karisimbi

Not our favourite place - the Karisimbi long drop

Not our favourite place – the Karisimbi long drop

Karisimbi High Camp Reached

After a late start around 11am we eventually reached the Karisimbi camp situated at 3659m. We covered the 8,8km and 1200m of ascent in around 4 and half hours with some long breaks along the way.

We trekked through some very thick jungle surrounded by stunning scenery. So far it has been a very good day and we are excited about our summit attempt tomorrow.

View of Karisimbi

View of Karisimbi

The Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) on patrol

The Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) on patrol

Josh and our team of Emmanuelle (Park Guide) and porters trekking to Karisimbi camp site

Josh and our team of Emmanuelle (Park Guide) and porters trekking to Karisimbi camp site

Departure for Karisimbi Volcano

Josh and I are on our way to climb Rwanda’s highest volcano Karisimbi. We have a team made up of a park guide, cook and porters and have a 9km hike to our high camp at 3700m.

Updates to follow.

View of Karisimbi from Besoke Volcano

View of Karisimbi from Besoke Volcano

Start of Karisimbi Hike

Start of Karisimbi Hike

View of Karisimbi from park gate

View of Karisimbi from park gate

Josh with Aimable, our tour guide for the week

Josh with Aimable, our tour guide for the week

Bisoke Volcano Summitted

Today Josh and I climbed the Bisoke Volcano (3700m) which included a very direct route straight up the volcano with 1220m of ascent. We were rewarded with some spectacular views of the surrounding volcanoes and country side.

We were escorted by park rangers armed with AK-47 rifles (supposedly to protect us against Buffalo and Elephant).

I have to say it was a lot more difficult than we expected, but the scenery was spectacular.

We are now on our way back to our lodge for a good shower and a rest.

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The Twins

The Hirwa family also has a pair of fraternal twins who are well protected by their mother. She also kept a close watch over us and never stopped watching what we were doing.

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The Hirwa Family

After registering with the park authorities we trekked into a Bamboo forest below the Sebenya volcano. With our Rwandan trackers led by Fernando we followed the Hirwa family consisting of 17 members.

The bamboo forrest is truly amazing and it forms the main diet of the gorillas who are vegetarian.

When we finally found the family it was very emotional and we spent an hour following them through the forrest.

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Gorillas in the Mist…

Today Josh and I had the most incredible experience tracking the Hirwa gorilla family.

Trekking deep into a bamboo forrest we located the Silverback leader Munyinya his 6 wives and 10 children.

It was an epic experience and we have some great photos and video to share.

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Mountain View Gorilla Lodge

We finally arrived at our lodge just before 7pm.

It is situated in the Virunga National Park at around 2400m.

We have had a great dinner and are having an early night.

We will be up at 5.30am tomorrow to track gorillas …

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Arrive Kigali

Josh and I arrived in Kigali this afternoon and were met by our guide Aimable.

After sorting out some admin and sim cards we headed for the Rwanda Genocide Memorial, which was quite overwhelming.

FOR MORE INFO : http://www.kigalimemorialcentre.org/old/index.html

We are now on our way to the Virunga National Park where we will check into our lodge.

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Josh and Tony at Kigali Genocide Memorial

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Kigali Airport

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Kigali Airport