You can catch up with the first part here. ^_^
While staying at Mikeno Lodge we had some other activities, besides being lazy and celebrating me. We visited around Rumangabo village, we took a tour of Domaine de Katale coffee farm and we've spoken with some great women at Virunga’s Sewing Workshop for the Widows of the Fallen Rangers. Being a Virunga Park Ranger is one of the most dangerous jobs in the whole world. There are 153 rangers killed in the line of duty from 2005 until now. The workshop was created to help widows recover after their loss, to have a community that can relate with their pain and to reintegrate in society. They make some beautiful products (like tote bags, napkins, skirts etc.) that they sell at Mikeno.
Once upon a time, Zaire (former name of DR Congo) was a burgeoning hub of coffee production, by 1989 coffee exports were at a high of 119.320 tonnes. Unfortunately, after the 1994 Rwandan genocide and DRC’s own civil war, the industry withered. In recent years, they seem to recover. Three large co-operative associations are formed to provide market access to more than 11,000 coffee farmers in the Kivu provinces. And that's a great news, because they have really great coffee. Even Starbucks agrees with me, they are buying coffee beans from the region since 2014.
Our last stop in Congo was on Tchegera Island. A beautiful moon shaped island! I am in love with the Moon, so I was very excited about this! But on our arrival the weather was at not all friendly: it was foggy, rainy and we were, once again, soaking wet from the boat ride. We were alone on the island and it was supposed to be romantic, but the only thing that I had in mind was “And then there were nine”! Especially after the boatman left!
But we had no statues at our dinner table, rain passed and we were very tired so we went to our tent earlier than usual! As you can imagine, in a tent - no matter how big it is - you don’t have walls aka you have no intimacy when you go to the bathroom. I was minding my own business🚽, hubby was, of course, outside the tent, when I hear him screaming to quickly come out so I can see something! It wasn’t the best moment, but I pulled up my pants and mumbling and grumbling I went outside! And there, in the middle of Lake Kivu, in the heart of Africa, being the only people on a moon shaped island, we saw the most beautiful thing ever! Thousands of fireflies flying around the island! It was, yet again, another magical moment! I was breathless and I just couldn’t believe it was real! That moment right there made us forget all about rain, wet clothes and tiredness! I still get goosebumps when I remember that night! 🙈
The next day we had a sunny morning, we were still the only guests and this time we got to enjoy it with a perfect breakfast outside and some kayaking around the island. 🚣♂️
To wash away all the soapiness from above, I will tell you that Corneliu got a huge rash from Lake Kivu, which is one of the most poisonous lakes in the world!
We left for Rwanda - the country of a thousand hills - and we spent 3 more days in Kigali! You must know that Rwanda is completely different, as it is completely safe and incredibly clean We had no problem leaving the restaurant at 11pm and take a walk to our hotel. Rwanda is probably Africa's cleanest nation and you must know that the use of plastic bags is forbidden. Throughout the country, businesses have been forced to replace plastic bags with paper ones. I also found out that Rwanda is looking to ban other types of plastic and is even hinting at the possibility of becoming the world's first plastic-free nation! Also, once a month every citizen, including the president, must partake in a giant neighborhood cleaning effort!
Of course it is a must to pay a visit at The Kigali Genocide Memorial. It commemorates the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and it is also the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims.
Also a must is to have dinner or at least coffee at Hôtel des Mille Collines, the hotel that saved 700 lives from genocide! It is an important place because - as I found out at the Memorial - churches, that terrified Tutsis believed would be a place of refuge, were turned into places of mass murder. Hotel Rwanda is the name of the movie that tells the story of Hôtel des Mille Collines. I highly recommend it!
While in Kigali, we also did a small Safari in Akagera Park. Although it was once considered to be one of the finest parks in Africa (with an area of 2.500 km2), it now covers only 1.200 km2. We went there without any expectations, considering that the park is still developing and is in it's early years of recovery, but we were pretty surprised! We saw giraffes, zebras, hippos and even a few elephants. It wasn't anything spectacular, but we still had fun and we enjoyed having lunch near a bunch of hippos!
On that note, thank you for reading and feel free to pm me for any infos, tips, tricks, prices or recommendations! ❤️