Rwanda: Golden Monkeys

January 12, 2019
Start: Ruhengeri, Volcanoes National Park
Stop: Kigale, Rwanda

Up at 5am to put my luggage together before departure. 6am breakfast is inhaled and then we head to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters like yesterday. Since today’s hike will be easy I decide to indulge in a cappuccino while I hang out. It’s the same guide as yesterday plus a few more because we’re a big group. Slowly but surely our all-ages group climbs upward towards the bamboo forest.

We weave through the bamboo forest and at the edge of a large gully the Golden Monkeys are sitting on branches that sway under their weight. In between bites of bamboo, they swing from branch to branch. The group jockeys for position to snap the perfect picture. All I know for sure is that it is damn hard to photograph Golden Monkeys. After one hour of viewing the monkeys we start to make our way back to the park headquarters. Nassar drives me back to the hotel where we have a quick lunch.

The drive to Kigale, the capital of Rwanda, takes a couple hours and before I know it we arrive at my hotel. My luggage is unloaded and sent through a scanner. I grab the rest of my stuff and just like that Nassar, my wonderful guide, is driving away. I get checked in, lay down for a bit, take a shower and then start repacking for my flight tomorrow. Panic sets in when I can’t find my camera. I try everything imaginable to reach the tour company and Nassar. After several hours I get a call from the hotel front desk and like a miracle there is Nassar with my camera. It had slipped down into the back seat and both of us missed it in its black case. After all the stress I’m not in the adventuring mood and just stay in my room for the evening eating an old PB&J, cashews and dried fruit.

January 13, 2019
Start: Kigale, Rwanda
Stop: Moshi, Tanzania

Luckily I get to the hotel lobby early and I’m allowed to get breakfast before it opens. 7am airport shuttle for me and one other. At the airport entrance, we have to get out of the van as it goes through a massive x-ray machine. Check-in takes quite a while but I do luck out with a window seat. I buy a few souvenirs before going through security….again. They make me take off my chaco sandals and my rings. Eish! After security there’s only a giant room with lots of seats. There’s no where to buy water and I start to get really thirsty. We’re bused out to our plane and I’m seated next to a man who puts his elbow on my side. He’s got a giant backpack between his legs so his knee is on my side also. Since I can’t put my right arm back I just sit forward and look out the window for the whole flight. I can tell that the guy is trying to look out the window too but oh well dude. The flight attendant comes with food and water and you guessed it, she runs the cart into his right knee because it’s sticking out in the aisle. We’re zipping over what must be the Serengeti plains when suddenly volcanic plugs and mountains start springing up everywhere.

It looks like we’re the second plane to land at Kilimanjaro International Airport and there are 100+ people queueing everywhere. First queue is the Visa payment line and I can feel the guy behind me breathing his stinky breath on me. Second is the passport queue which takes forever and ever. After 1.5+ hours I’ve finally paid for my visa, gotten my picture taken, gotten my finger prints scanned and gotten a printed visa for my passport. I get scared when I don’t see my luggage but because it has taken me so long it has been unloaded from the luggage carousel. I load it onto a cart but then have to immediately unload it and put it all through a scanner. I make my way out of the airport looking for anyone with a sign for me. No one. Then a guy comes up with a screen on his cell phone that says: Jeniifer Smart Pick Planet. Well, that’s pretty close. Moses drives me to the Stella Maris Lodge and I’m still so damn thirsty. I’m checking in and they ask me to pay for my ride. I say I thought it was included in my package. Then I’m informed that I will have a roommate. I’m like, ok, but I didn’t know anything about that either. I eventually get to my room and I’m still thinking about the roommate thing. Why am I being charged $90 for a shared room? So I go back to the front desk and ask for clarification. They call Peak Planet and I talk with someone who literally can not clarify if $90 is for a shared room. I end up with no roommate which is so nice and kinda what one would expect for the price tag of $90. I enjoy dinner and a few local beers as I start to meet a few people from my group. The TV in my room gets a few channels and the movie channel is actually playing a soccer game. I watch Manchester United win and then fall asleep early. After 10pm a bus pulls up outside in the parking area, which my window faces, and there are lots of people making lots of noise. Eventually I fall back asleep.

Mt. Kilimanjaro hiding behind the clouds