,

My dream trip to Dream Village and why you need to be a cheerful giver

Katuna Gatuna boarder on Uganda Rwanda boarder.

Few days ago its been overwhelming news in the media and every where to whoever bothered to listen, watch and read. Anyhow the whole world revolves around politics and I find it so hard to dodge it or go without it. After all who doesn’t want to go in a safe country.

Besides that, I hate the constant stereotypes of some people who don’t travel or have never bothered to go but keep scaring some who would be willing to pack and go. Am one person who doesn’t listen to that anyways. So again am here packing my bags to go as usual.

A long time friend and brother Manzi Norman is running some charity work in Rwanda by the names of Dream Village NGO. Rwanda and Uganda have been all over the news the last one month for the wrong reason mainly. Closure of Katuna boarder blab bla la which I always want to give a deaf ear. So this Friday got me packing bags again.

My usual bus takes me for around 8 hours to reach Katuna boarder and this time looks deserted. Empty is a simply right word I can use in comparison with the usual movement at the boarder. A point I have used for decades.

Buses crossing Katuna- Gatuna boarder with few passengers.

Not a problem. Am not a coward and jump out of the bus passport stamped, faster faster to no man’s land and am on the Rwandan side stamping entry Visa. Lines are averagely long but apart from the machines that were making noise on the boarder construction site, activities are more less than the Ugandan side. Back to the bus to a city am used to and call it home sometimes.

It’s a normal practice for Manzi to welcome me with a smile hard our dinner and was tired to my knees and went straight to bed.

Manzi Norman- Director at Dream Village Organisation with Darius

Next day Manzi took me straight to his charity projects for Dream Village NGO that I happen to be a board member as well. Its my first time to travel for this purpose. If am not in the wild am on the hotel or on the road roaming the world. First thing as usual is food. This time its not the usual three course meals but rather gardens. Reaching the gardens am moved down to my knees how this young corporate man turned into a farmer with just a heart to help.

At first we shared an office for more than a year plus. After moving into documentary making I was forced to abandon the office and start wondering around like a headless chicken. Time to move around his charity projects. Yes, I have come to terms with myself that you should follow suit. Spare sometime for others. I mean it and this is how;

 It Forces Human Interaction

Some of the community members Dream Village organisation supports

Manzi Norman is a believer and hardly believes in anything that takes his service away. He is not religious I mean but Godly. To him, the common response among many believers is that God commands us “to be a good steward” of our wealth, which is the Christian way of saying “I don’t want to give away any of my time, energy, or resources to people who are just going to flush it away.” Thus, the accumulation of wealth is quickly adapted as a form of spiritual virtue, highly esteemed among American, Indian or African believers and attributed as a sign of God’s favor.

But giving directly to the poor forces us to actually interact with humankind, with the people God wants us to be with! Christians have a nasty habit of donating to charities and organizations simply because they don’t want to be uncomfortable or get their hands “dirty.” It’s their way of “helping” without having to actually do anything. Says Manzi Norman the Director at Dream Village organization.

It makes you happy: the science of a “helper’s high”

Most of us want to feel like our lives mean something – that we’re making a positive difference in the world. So it’s not surprising that several studies have shown how helping others can boost our sense of happiness.

  • One study showed that helping others through volunteer work increased levels of happiness in the participants.
  • In another study, people were given money to either spend on themselves or give to charity. Those who gave to charity felt happier.
  • Happy workers are more likely to report that they regularly help others.
  • Some studies have shown that children under the age of two report being happier when they give treats away rather than receiving treats themselves.

Scientists have been studying a phenomenon called “helper’s high”: helping others releases endorphins which, in turn, improves mood and boosts self-esteem. In short, helping others feels good. It’s possible that helping others does more for the happiness of the person helping than the person who receives the help.

It builds stronger social connections to friends and community

Helping others isn’t a one-way street where you do something good for someone and then you both go about your way. When you’ve touched someone’s life in a positive way, you feel connected to them; it’s a bonding experience. It builds trust through cooperation which not only brings them closer to you, it brings you closer to them.

When you choose to help others, especially if it’s face to face, you’re entering their lives in a positive way, reinforcing social connections as you go.

It reminds me of that student’s mother I met. If I hadn’t helped her son so much, I would never have met her – she’d have no reason to meet me. Because of my actions, I made another positive connection to the people around me.

Some orphaned youth and others HIV positive on a learning workshop

You adapt better to stress and adversity by building resilience

It may seem strange, but helping others doesn’t add more stress to your life, it actually helps us manage stress better.

At Dream Village organization I was told they take immersion trips where they help the poor and unhandy. Those who took this trip were assessed months later and were found to manage stress and adversity much better than their peers.

Why is that? I asked Manzi.

It’s about perspective. By looking at the challenges of others’ lives, you can take that point of view into your own. It makes you more accepting of the stress and hardships we all have to face. Says Manzi Norman the Director at Dream village organization.

Sometimes we lose that perspective in a culture obsessed with celebrities living glorified lives, seemingly carefree. But helping others takes us back to reality by reminding ourselves that most people struggle – and that it’s ok if we do too.

It’s good for your career

There are many factors to think about when trying to find a satisfying career: autonomy, creative freedom and meaning are a few examples. But one of the biggest things to consider is how your work impacts others.

People who work as a medical professional, psychologist, religious figure or firefighter often give high ratings of job satisfaction. The connection between all of these professions is that they all help people on a regular basis.

Those who are happiest in their job, more committed and less likely to quit make it a priority to help others – either co-workers or customers.

Even if your job doesn’t deal with people directly, it can help to think about how your work helps people in some way. By taking time to think about what you do and how it helps people in some capacity, you’ll feel better about it – even if it’s just a little.

It’s good for business

What is produced from the farm is sold to local shop vendors.

What’s the goal of a business? One answer might be making money by selling a product or service. Yes, that’s true. But I’d take it a step further: businesses make money by finding ways to help people.

Look at these examples:

Google was created to make searching the internet easier and faster, with better results.

Gyms earn money by providing a place to exercise.

Uber is trying to make on-demand car service better.

Amazon simplified online buying and selling so it’s easier.

Travel with Darius TV I own is providing free guides that give our audience destinations they can travel to.

Businesses often seem shady because they’re seen as money-driven. The image of a corporate raider using sneaky tactics to weasel their way through a system is commonplace, and there is some truth to it. Not all companies help others – cigarette companies for example.

But the companies that do best, focus on helping others and solving their problems. Both Steve Jobs and Henry Ford revolutionized the world by solving problems people didn’t even realize they had. Businesses that solve problems in the best and cheapest way will win – and we win right along with them.

Better health; it can make you live longer

Dream Village participants showing me what they have at the farm with Manzi and a consultant on the project

If you want to live longer, be a giver. At least that’s the conclusion of a The link between better health and helping others is striking.

  • It lowers rates of depression and puts you in a better mood.
  • It lowers your risk of dying by at least 22%.
  • It’s good for your mental health.

The researchers were careful to not draw conclusions about why helping others is so good for health, but it probably has something to do with the social contact we make while doing it.

We’re hardwired for social interactions which includes a lot of touch, eye contact and smiles. Such interactions release a hormone called Oxytocin which helps us bond and care for others and helps us manage stress. Not only that, but doing good makes us happier which, in turn, makes us healthier.

It can help you find meaning in your life

Dream village organisation Farm

There’s a link between helping others and finding meaning in your life. And it’s not just those who have already found purpose giving back. Instead, helping others can actually CREATE a sense of meaning in our lives. Manzi says he has never been fulfilled until he woke up to a helping hand. Especially dealing with teenagers who had problems that looked like heavier to him.

“Helping others fulfills some of our most basic needs such as connecting with others and seeing how your actions make a positive difference. Those are the areas that help define a meaningful life”Echoes Manzi the Director Dream village organization.

The idea that there is a link between a meaningful life and helping others is actually a rather old one. Carol Ryff, a psychologist, reviewed the writings of numerous philosophers and thinkers throughout history and found one overarching ideas: that helping others is “a central feature of a positive, well-lived life.”

A meaningful life isn’t found, but created through our actions. And it starts with looking for ways to help others.

I have gone back to my travels a much fulfilled man. Am more than committed to helping than ever before

Darius Dos Santos is a global travel blogger and video blogger. He is the founder of Travel With Darius TV. He provides free guides, tips and tour packages on www.travelwithdarius.com and on all social media as TRAVEL WITH DARIUS TV. He can be reached on dariustravels2014@gmail.com or whatsapp +256789606315.

, , ,

Why Your Next Road Trip Should Be Through Western Rwanda

A week ago I did a grand tour of western Rwanda that I would rather term as a green belt.

Beyond Nyabihu there’s nothing but volcanic fields, green tea field and  luxury resorts.

For the past decade, travel to western Rwanda has meant sleeping in an unremarkable  hotels and day-tripping to the golden Gisenyi currently called Rubavu, that 130-km circuit of green waves and rolling hills outside of town, and then capping your trip with a pre-departure soak in the lush vegetation in Gishwati forest before heading to golden lake views of all times. All done along-side everyone else stopping over between the Rubavu and Karongi. But newly opened luxury-design lodges 3B Hotels who own Kivu lodge, on the lake—are restoring the fantasy of a Rwandan lunar frontier worthy of exploration beyond a weekend.

 

Kivu Lodge.

Kivu Lodge in Western Rwanda. Part of the 3B Hotels Group.

You could helicopter between their properties between Kigali, Musanze, Karongi and the soon to be opened close to Akagera National park in the east of Rwanda, but consider going by car, driving from Kigali to Musanze on Gorilla safari lodge up to the Rubavu peninsula via the more rugged north, then looping back down to the Blue lake Kivu.  If you spread out the 227-mile drive over four or five days, spending a night or two at each hotel, you’ll have time to take in the haunting volcanic fields and vast plains reminiscent of Rwanda. Out here, you’ll see more hills, vegetation, mind blowing views than people.

GISHWATI TEA FIELDS AND FOREST

Gishwati Tea fields are so amazing for both camping close and tour onlookers

Volcanoes close to Gorilla Safari Lodge where you can start off your journey to the western green belt

Once you land, you don’t have to drive too far to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. The concrete-and-green adventure is just 1 and 20 minutes from Musanze but seems a world away. Close to is Gishwati forest.  It has an outdoor hot activity for some of you who love birding life, that looks out onto massive green tea covered fields.

There is no artificial light and no noise of any kind (you will only hear bird chirp, since just there are so many trees). The other break from the silence is the gentle hiss of wind waves coming from the upper hills rolling down the valleys. It’s particularly spectacular during a soak of the afternoon, in the fading western sunlight (and even more surreal when you consider sleeping in Musanze at Gorillas Safari lodge and wake up on a mega breakfast to give you energy of stretching your eye lenses to grasp the endless fable mountains).

Luxurious 3B Hotels group restaurants.

From here, continue west to Karongi via Rubengera on the famous Congo Nile trail. Route 1 cuts through mile after mile of sharp bends and hills, but the only traffic you’ll encounter is packs of eucalyptus galloping next to your car sliding backwards. The drive to Kivu lodge Farm is nearly 2 hours, so plan to stop stare, stop, stare and stop to stare at the glamorous west. Packed snack and water is advisable as you will not find much stop centres where you can buy a trusted snack

CONGO NILE TRAIL

Part of the snake soft roads that make up the Congo Nile Trail in Western Rwanda

The 227 Kms long distance has been known as the best product so far to me Rwanda development board has ever developed, for the country that’s yearning for After Gorilla experience packages. I guess this forms part of your experience as you traverse via the western green belt in Rwanda. Here you need to plan for 5 days or so if you are to cycle around. Each stopover will usher you into another one. I did not get a chance to camp or stop a lot but managed to have a brief glance of Mugonero base camp that happens to be close to Kivu lodge where I was staying.

Warning !!!

Please do not forget to pack your camera, summer like wear as the place looks more like Hawaii and those other places you see in movies and celebrity shows. Stop take a photo and you will thank me later

In the next episode I will tell you life on water with Iliza boat courtesy of iliza expeditions.

IliZA House Boat owned by Iliza expeditions. Wait for the Iliza story next.

, ,

Darius in An Interview With Hear it From Locals about Kigali and Rwanda

Darius Dossantos is a full time traveller who has managed to visit over 46 countries on 4 continents and is still counting. In 1996 when he was a toddler he left home and toured Western Uganda in Rwenzori and since then life has never been the same for him. He got stuck in this thing called travel. He has guided a number of media houses including the famous BBC, New York times Journalists, famous photographers like Mark Metternich and many others. All the little money he gets is spent on his personal project called Travel With Darius TV.

KIGALI
Rwanda is a landlocked East African country also known as the land of 1000 hills. It’s highest point is Mount Karisimbi at 4507 metres and lowest is 950 metres. It is a part of Africa’s Great Lakes Region which is one of the richest regions of the continent in natural resources. The other countries which are it’s part are Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Kigali is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is considered as one of the most modern and cleanest cities in the African continent. So much so that it has recently been nominated for the first edition of the Wellbeing City Award, an award that recognizes cities placing wellbeing at the center of urban design and planning. Kigali has appeared in the Public Health category in it where it will be competing with cities like Gothenburg, Los Angeles and Vancouver.

What is the best time to visit Kigali?
Kigali is an interesting city. First of all it is build on a high altitude. When its hot everywhere, you will find it cold. When its raining and flooding in other cities, you will find Kigali dry and clean. So all year around it’s a good city. But most importantly is visiting it during genocide commemoration time which starts around April and ends around July. The first two weeks are teasers. You feel the touch of what human kind can do to the rest yet you were not there. Everything is quiet in the city. Kigali doesn’t have peak time unless unusual conferences come over.

Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Kigali?
I will start with types of transport available. Kigali has city buses which are really on time and clean. City buses use swipe cards too, so everything is a bit modernized and cashless. Swipe cards are prepaid so that you can keep checking the balance.

Besides that you will get a number of taxi cabs parked in gazetted places. But the most common means of transport is taxi motto.

Taxi motto is basically motorcycles that you can call anytime, in any place around time. This is the most favored means of transport. Some companies have invested in extra cash to make it modernized with modern apps. You can pay a motto guy using mobile money for example. Kigali is on Google maps and streets are numbered so finding you is very easy. Sophisticated and transport companies like Uber have not hit Kigali market yet.

What are the top three must visit places in Kigali
The best day trips would be Kigali city tours. You can tour on a moto or even walkable distances depending on where you are coming from. Kigali city is not that big and besides the cleanliness will give you a chance to walk with no dust. Kigali also has Nyamirambo that is best loved by urban lifestylers with mostly Swahili speakers.

Get an afternoon visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial site at Gisozi and see trauma and danger that befell humankind in 1994. It’s a hard story for me to tell. It evokes bad memories for me. Entrance is free but you can donate to help this work of preserving history go on. The Rwandan genocide has a lasting and thoughtful impact not only to Rwanda but also on its neighboring countries.

Lastly don’t miss your evening sundowner at Ubumwe grand hotel rooftop where you will have an iconic view of Kigali at night.

Night View of Kigali from Ubumwe Grand Hotel Rooftop. Image Source : Tripadvisor

Night View of Kigali from Ubumwe Grand Hotel Rooftop. Image Source : Tripadvisor

What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Kigali?
Of course everyone knows Rwanda is home to the famous Gorilla. So my number one is Volcanoes National Park (Parc National Des Volcans). Apart from being the only place with volcanoes, this Northern part of Rwanda is so contagious. You don’t feel like leaving every time you go there. Karisimbi volcano is the highest peak and will greet you with a smile. Musanze town houses this park. Gorillas, people and hiking mountains will always come number one in this area. After seeing gorillas you will be given a dessert of Dian Fossey itinerary that will show you an amazing woman who sacrificed her life to save these amazing creatures that share 99+% of  DNA with human beings.

There are various accommodation options available in and around the park. However, Bisate Eco Lodge, a luxurious and eco-sensitive safari camp, is considered as one of the world’s best new hotels. It focuses on Africa’s most immersive wild primate experience and has been recently shortlisted in the Global Ahead awards in ‘Lodges & Tented Camps’ category.

Bisate Eco Lodge, Rwanda.

Bisate Eco Lodge, Rwanda.

Second place to me is Kibuye, a city in Karongi District, around 110 km from Kigali. It lies in the western stretch of Rwanda along L.Kivu that touches Rwanda to the west and kissing Democratic Republic of Congo to the West. It is just 1 hour’s drive away from Volcanoes national park and Gisenyi. To me this place has been underrated by all bloggers and travellers. It’s the Caribbean type of environment you will experience in Rwanda. It’s enchanting, its extremely gorgeous and one Rwanda’s hidden nature paradise. It is hard to believe that it is the same place which experienced the most killings of Tutsis by Hutus in the 1994 genocide. To learn more about things to do in Kibuye, click here.

Lake Kivu in Rwanda

Lake Kivu in Rwanda

Lastly I will not go without visiting Akagera National park. OMG. African parks in partnership with Rwanda Development board partnership have done a great deal of this Eastern Rwanda gem and tourism archipelago. Named after the Akagera river, this park is at the country’s border with Tanzania. Have a great time here by going on a wildlife game drive, fishing in lake Shakani, boat safari on lake Ihema or birding in the park. Here you can forget about being on the news for the introduction of the big five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo), but also a number of other animals, plains and luxurious resorts inside the park will never make you delete memories of this park.

Which is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Kigali?
A local brewery company called SKOL has started igniting Kigali city and its revelers. Currently they have started treating and giving back their loyal brew consumers an end of year party to beer drowns. Why not? So far my best!!

What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Kigali
French fries, chips or call it “ifiriti” as called in the local language. A meal without Ifiriti in Rwanda is not complete. As you move in the local suburbs you will find many small posters reading AMATA NA FANTA BIKONJE. This literally means,  COLD MILK AND FANTA. Lol. A homemade meal without milk is equally meaningless in Kigali. Vegetables are available but not common since most of them are imported from the neighboring countries.

Are there any popular markets in Kigali which tourists must visit? 
A visit to Kimironko market and Caplaki Craft Village, both local markets with art and cultural items from the Rwandan market would be ideal.

Kimironko market is one of the largest markets of Rwanda located in the outskirts of Kigali. All kinds of goods are sold here, from food to clothes to hardware. An added advantage is that it remains open every day of the week. To shop all you need is some patience and good negotiating skills. To know more about Kimironko market, click here.

Located in the Kiyovu neighborhood, Caplaki is an ideal destination for souvenir shopping. It is full of handmade fabrics, beads, baskets, carvings, ceramics and texture. It’s a great place for finding crafts from nearby countries too, all under one roof, however, almost the same items except maybe a few, can be found in Kimironko and at a much cheaper rate. Nevertheless, it’s worth a visit.

Farmers markets are organized periodically for resident foreigners especially who want to buy organic foods.

Which is the local craft or souvenir of Kigali?
Because Rwanda is a land of strong culture, you will find souvenirs which are 100% Rwandan authentic. Examples are Imigongo made from cow dung and gorilla sculptures.

Imigongo art is a type of art that is made by making patterns using cow dung, mainly in the colours red, black and white. It is a popular art in the whole of Rwanda but it first started in the Igisaka region. In this art, cow dung is given geometric shapes on a wooden board and let to dry before it is painted in different colours.

Which are the best streets of Kigali worthy of taking a stroll on?
Kimihurura. This once used to be a diplomat residential place is now full of high end classic clubs and restaurants. From local to international cuisines and dining places. This area is in the centre of the city making it easier to travel to other parts. Overall a great place for accommodation, restaurants, cafes and night life.

Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
Rebero Hill. Its known to be the highest point of Kigali and will give you a chance for a panoramic view of Kigali city. Over 70% of the city can be seen from this hill. Besides it has something else to see. Genocides heroes’ mausoleum.

Would you suggest any shows in Kigali to drama, music or art lovers? Where can one spot street art in Kigali?
Well am not an art person neither do I love music performances. However, if  you love it then Isaano Arts is an annual music festival that celebrates African music. The festival is one of the largest and most popular musical festivals in the country in which many top local and guest musicians take part.

Besides travel I love comedy and my Friend ARTHUR NKUSI in the same names on social media makes me laugh my ass out. He does his commedy at Camp De Kigali. Seka Live is a show of all times.

For street art check out the work by Rwandese organization, Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga – which translates in English to “To Create, To See, To Learn”. They create works of art that transform spaces and places through color and creativity.

How hard is it to travel in Kigali without knowing the local language?
You need a guide. Almost hard. Unlike other countries in East Africa, people in Rwanda don’t direct anyone like that. English is a problem. Maybe use cops on the roadside. They are friendly than ordinary citizens. Cops will direct you with ease or else get a guide.

Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Kigali?
Yes!! Hello food, Jumia food for food delivery at your doorstep.

Yego moto and Safe moto for motorcycles and taxis. But I would advise you to get out of the gate and whistle at the moto. The only thing these apps would help you is if you are not good at bargaining, here the price is set. Remember if you don’t get a set price you will get muzungu price. Don’t ask me what that one is. Smiles……

Good bye till next time.

source: Hear it From Locals

DARIUS EXPERIENCES LIFE ON THE FARM: PART 1

Why “Life on the farm” slogan is still unimaginable experience in the Ugandan tourism experience

When you mention south western Uganda and tourism at ago, what comes to anyone’s mind is the likes of Queen Elizabeth national park, Rwenzori and Lake Mburo national park. It’s okay to think that way. When I was discussing with my friend a week ago, I told him am off to Ankole and his immediate question was; are you going to Rwakitura? I was so fast to tell him close to Rwakitura. I guess I left him wondering if was posted in any political office or so. Yes, that’s a mentality of Ugandans vs this region.

But listen am not a politician but rather a travel gospel teller. I transmit the gospel of nature, wildlife and animals. My friend was right because when you ask someone what they can do in the whole of Ankole region, everyone mentions Lake Mburo national park. Today I will tell you why they are wrong.

The fortunes of this place have been awakened by the recent opening of Life on the Farm experience by Emburara Farm Lodge. In the following series I will tell you about food, animals, culture, lifestyle and much more on the farm

What is Life on the Farm experience?
Emburara Farm Lodge is a high end facility that just opened within a distance of 10 minutes’ drive from Mbarara town which is the main administrative town for Ankole region. It’s just located close to Nyakisharara airstrip on Mbarara- Ibanda Road. Am told its where life on the farm experience crops up. After 4 hours of a highway drive, am ushered to plain Savannah land with cows freely grazing and one tall man following them step by step? In the middle of farm lands is a mega modern era structured property with cow horns intersected welcoming each guest.

Emburara Farm Lodge is a high end facility that just opened within a distance of 10 minutes’ drive from Mbarara town.

Emburara Farm Lodge is a high end facility that just opened within a distance of 10 minutes’ drive from Mbarara town.

Am greeted by one Sam with a wide smile and offered a welcome drink in a relaxed in ambiance of mixed cow dung smell and nature at its best. I guess the cow dung smell was a bit psychological since I was told am on the farm. “We are the first of its kind in the region, with high end facilities that meets everyone’s budget, with a unique experience of what we packaged as life on the farm. Everyone thinks about wildlife with their touristic lodges. But for us we thought about a unique farm experience before we take you to the wild. Many of us have grown up in cities and towns where we did not get a chance to milk cows, prepare cow ghee, and take cows to graze and much more”

Echoes Sam Nkurunzinza the supervisor for service department in his soft touchy voice. He made me laugh my lungs out when he told me that his young sister grew up knowing milk came from the fridge. Sam insists don’t make your children think like his young sister.

It is these whole farm activities we have packaged to make what they call “Life on the Farm experience” Says Sam

It did not last longer than my urge for the Life of the farm experience was calling. Below I compiled a list of activities you can do to get your golden share of this experience offered by Emburara Farm Lodge.  90% of these activities are done on the farm or outside but supplied by Emburara Farm lodge and its sister company Emburara Safaris.

Episode 1. Let’s talk about Kraal experience
The Kraal experience is number one on the list of activities that make up Life on the Farm experience. Benon is a flamboyant and always smiling dark skinned young man who has just been certified as a professional tour guide. He is confident and has just been hired by Emburara Farm Lodge as a resident tour guide. He offered to take me around the farm. Faster, faster, I shoot a question. Do you know this whole thing of Life on the Farm experience? He smiles, and narrates to me it’s been part of his life.

Benon is a flamboyant and always smiling dark skinned young man who has just been certified as a professional tour guide.

Benon is a flamboyant and always smiling dark skinned young man who has just been certified as a professional tour guide.

I was born a herdsman. I am a specialist in birding but then cows form part of my life story. Guiding people about cows make me feel it’s a new era in the history of cows and herdsmen. This region is known to be a tourism region but the cow and farm life aspect have been missing in the whole tourism experience in Uganda and Africa to be precise. I nodded my head in agreement. Uganda ranks 24th in the whole world of cattle inventory with Brazil leading the list and third in Africa after Ethiopia and Tanzania. Apart from New Zealand others have slept off the cattle tourism ladder. This experience coming in rural Uganda makes it something unique not in Africa but the whole world and has aroused my appetite to go and have my own share.

Guiding people about cows make me feel it’s a new era in the history of cows and herdsmen - says Benon.

Guiding people about cows make me feel it’s a new era in the history of cows and herdsmen – says Benon.

A cow has been the most significant animal on the farm. Through this trip i shall take you through a memorable experience. Enjoy an up close and personal experience with a wide ride through a herd of milking cows and much more. Visit a traditional Ankole Dairy Farm and experience a personal and very up close tour of the farm and all the animals.

We offer a fully guided tour with hands on approach. You are able to massage and touch our animals and at the same time learn about them. A very popular part of the tour is grazing our cows (Okusetura) in the local language and watering or Okweshera. Spending the whole day grazing cows evokes everyone’s memories that make some even shed a tear or two out of happiness when am guiding them on the farm, Says Benon my guide of the day.

You will also visit our traditional milking shed and learn about the milking process and what happens to milk in Ankole. We have high Ankole long horned cattle that are so friendly to you and will allow you to milk, massage and even smile with them. One thing I assure you, get ready to wake up so early and please don’t leave behind that fur coat or jacket of yours. Kashari is super cold, but above all, I promise you will have fun. I did, yes I repeat this, and I did!!!!

To enjoy the whole Kraal experience you will need around 3 – 4 days of staying on the farm. And if your background is cowboys or South America, New Zealand and the likes, even a week is less. Plan for about 1 full week of vigorous fun and farm life. We woke up around 5 am and straight away went for early morning milking. Before you milk please make sure you familiarize with them. Make them your friends. This takes almost an hour or more depending on the cows.

Before milking the cows, you to first familiarize with them and make them your friends.

Before milking the cows, you to first familiarize with them and make them your friends.

Second activity is releasing them to go and graze. Besides grazing, watering and milking cows you will also find a house where milk processing is done called Ekihongore in the local language. Here am not talking about modern methods that chun milk but rather contemporary Ankole methods. Am taken by my guide Benon to visit Ekihongore and have a taste of this grass thatched house on the farm. From out it looks like any other African traditional Masai type house. Getting inside, am greeted by the smell of milk, so many milk containers and beautiful faces of two ladies who sit opposite facing each other on either side and am offered a small traditional wooden stool.

After milking, you release the cows to go and graze.

After milking, you release the cows to go and graze.

Carpets in the small house are made from cow’s hides and skins. Beatrice [not her real name] was born elsewhere and has been a resident of this place married for over 45 years. With her sheer smile and short hair dressed in Ankole attire called Omushanana we jump to the story of this grass thatched house. I have been here for the last 45 years and milk is part of our diet on daily basis. When it’s collected from the farm after milking, we keep it in safe containers you see here displayed. Traditionally we would smoke these containers and put milk as it is from the farm. But with modernization we now boil the milk first. I have never had any sickness from taking non boiled milk.

In an African traditional Masai type house where milk processing is done, I enter and am greeted and welcomed by beautiful faces of two ladies seat on carpets made from cow’s hides and skins.

In an African traditional Masai type house where milk processing is done, I enter and am greeted and welcomed by beautiful faces of two ladies seat on carpets made from cow’s hides and skins.

For me its daily food from my hey days, but for my cameraman Justus who was born in a family without cows it was a new experience. He took less than 100 mls of Amakamo (fermented milk). Benon says from the farm after milking they clean the milk, boil it and then leave it to cool down. After cooling, the next steps is smoking local containers and then keep the milk ready to drink. He says all visitors who come have to be offered a small container of milk and its mandatory to finish it. To Justus who did not, that wasn’t to their taste I guess.

Some of the milk which is not taken remains to be separated from ghee and the ghee is churned and used as an appetizer for food. Listen the other watery milk that is separated from ghee, amacunda (as called in the local language) was for young children to enable them grow very well. I swear this I couldn’t try too. To my children I always travel with, it was a celebration.

Watery milk that is separated from ghee, amacunda (as called in the local language) is for young children to enable them grow very well.

Watery milk that is separated from ghee, amacunda (as called in the local language) is for young children to enable them grow very well.

After that the next step is using the ghee collected to through the process of churning to make “Eshabwe” or processed ghee. If you taste Eshabwe, you will go back asking whose daughter is single in Ankole. By the way it’s mostly used on Ankole weddings as part of the food and guess what, I couldn’t miss it at Emburara dining table. Like the saying goes these days, if you know you know.

In Episode two we go for local Banana beer making using unwashed feet as part of life on the farm experience, don’t miss!!

Please note that views expressed in this blog are out of my own experience. Not the blog and other stakeholders mentioned in here

, ,

How Marketing Tourism in Africa Remains a Frustration to Local Journalists

Besides the cost of doing business skyrocketing am this kind of guy who always wanted to give a push to my country and African dream in particular. Way back in 2012 I became a guide of a popular TV reality show on BBC TRAVEL CHANNEL that finally became an eye opener for me about a world westerners had enjoyed for long and to us were busy enjoying writing political stories without showing the best side of Africa. I hate to see only negative on TV and pictures

Am a passionate blogger and video blogger (VLOGGER). Having applied for Journalism at Makerere University and my passion was frustrated by PUJAB (Public university Joint admission Board) a body mandated to admit students into public universities in Uganda. The passion of writing and presenting positive vibes remained in me even after going for a marketing degree which was even better to use my skills and sell the better side of Africa.

Not so long ago it birthed into one of my most creativity child of all times. Travel with Darius TV show. A reality show that’s meant to market destinations especially in Africa my homeland. But listen if you are planning to grab that simple camera like a phone or even big ones I tell you Africa is not the right place to start that. Am serious on this.

From partners, authorities to your neighbors and friends you look like it’s a crime to capture images of videos of even my home country. Actually people resist than animals. While you have a task of zooming in that antelope, you also have a task of fighting security agencies grabbing your cameras or your belt. Today I will narrate to you few instances I have met only in the two countries I call home. Maybe next time I will add DRC story, CONGO BRAZZAVILLE story where I bought a tourist visa and they told me its meant for Land not air arrival. Hhahahahahah funny indeed !! when I gave the guy 10 dollars it changed it into Land arrival visa. But save this for my next blog.

I have traveled over 46 countries and out of these 33 are in Africa. Its where I have meat a lot of challenges than anywhere else.  On my recent trip I was tormented by my own country mate at Katuna boarder that happens to be the main entry and exit of Rwanda and Uganda. For some of you who have never been to this point, this is the only busiest point I guess we should be marketing with passion because it connects to Gorilla highlands of western Uganda, where Tourists who connect form Rwanda pass to go and truck the famous Gorillas. Its Uganda’s international airport for cars in a layman language.

While I grabbed trailers that were parked and the billboard that said welcome to Uganda, a plainly clothed man I have always seen seated there grabbed my camera. I didn’t release it and he pulled me to his cabin. Introduced myself and it’s a very long story.

Despite my efforts to explain to the guy am not mentioning here for the case of my security, he insisted I delete all the footage and I had captured from Kisoro where my trip began, to Rwanda and then to Uganda. If you were me, I bet you would lay your head to be chopped than delete. Finally, we settled on removing my card and he retained it for good. He actually told me to go get a letter from LC1, LC3, RDC and attach my national ID and work ID before I come back for my Card. Holy cow !!!!!!

Another case had happened to me in Rwanda. For some of you who are conversant with Kigali, I was found filming the oldest post genocide catholic church in Rwanda near Kigali CDB lower Kiyovu near Airtel round about. This man who spoke fluently in Kinyarwanda approached me and asked me what I was doing. I pretended I didn’t know Kinyarwanda and he called a friend who spoke to me in Luganda after establishing am a Ugandan. I explained myself to the intestines and lungs and showed them all my IDs and relevant documentation. A minute later they were 3 surrounding me. They held a private talk in Kinyarwanda which I heard well and then came back to me with a  unanimous conclusion that I delete all the footage I had taken. I repeat I did not and I don’t want to tell you where the story ended but will tell you abit huh. A man turned up in a V8 land cruiser and found us arguing, he asked what it was and my purpose. I explained to him and he said, ohhh ohhhh I have watched your show on TV. Some sight of relief. I nodded in agreement with tears rolling on my cheeks. He instructed them to leave me film and go. The boy is doing a good cause. I was later told by the Luganda speaking operative that he is a minister.  I don’t love politics and politicians but We need more of him. What a Christmas gift this minister gave me.

On the last incident was again in Gatuna. Katuna is the Ugandan side and Gatuna is the Rwandan side. So I will use Gatuna to mean Rwandan side. I have used this boarder point for ages since I was a toddler. To me this should be actually a place I call home. So on another fateful day I was capturing a selfie. As a blogger I always want to update people on where I am and road network, weather etc. A different man dressed in civilian attire approached me and taped on my shoulder. Please first watch video from my phone below.

He called me to come to police offices. When I reached there he asked to explain why am capturing a selfie. I explained to him and he didn’t buy the idea. It took me almost an hour for him to browse my phone and make up his mind and return my equipment. So basically he saw everything in my phones including my kid’s nakedness just to mention a few. In Rwanda if you are a foreigner, you are treated more nicely, save the fact that even communication wont be easy for you between that civilian man arresting you and whoever comes into your situation.

But well the question that lingers on my mind is whether it’s a crime to hold a camera when you are black to black. If you know you know. Whites capture these guys even holding guns in our home continent but for us we can’t even film the exit to a national park.

Think of the lame reasoning this man gave me that I should stop filming videos of Uganda because terrorists will follow me and know where to pass and do whatever they want. Does this soldier on the Ugandan said know what tourism efforts in marketing like mine have made his life much better really? After frustrating my day, he was driving a car in front of me from Katuna to Kabale on a good road made from Tourism revenue.

After frustrating my day, he was driving a car in front of me from Katuna to Kabale on a good road made from Tourism revenue.

Are African governments really aware of such hooligans who spoil and frustrate our individual efforts like mine to market this continent or that’s what they are trained to do? If I have all papers that show am a responsible citizen why frustrate my efforts to do my part of keeping the African dream really?

I have more experiences but let me stop here for today and go back to my positive vibes. I have forgiven all that have my memory cards, cameras and content. Keep it and we shall meet when I have bought new ones, you take them again and we market Africa together. Its our home

Please share your experiences while holding that camera…..

, , , , , , , , ,

DARIUS’ SEMEI KAKUNGULU HERITAGE EXPERIENCE. Part 2

In my previous episode https://bit.ly/2RerFfu I narrated how I had stepped my foot on Gangama hill. It’s on this hill that Mwanga and Kabalega were incarcerated, it’s on this hill that Semei Lwakirenzi Kakungulu finally settled, it’s on this hill that he died and was buried. In this episode I take you straight to what to see on this hill in the Semei Kakungulu Heritage Experience with Kakunguru Safaris a local company that has taken time to develop the itinerary.

TOUR SEMEI KAKUNGULU GRAVE.

Semei Kakungulu grave at Gangama Hill in Mbale.

Kakungulu died on 24th November 1928of Tetanus. Kakungulu is buried in a short distance from the main Abayudaya synagogue behind the unpretentious home which he lived during his last years of his life. He was buried inside a house. I asked Steve my guide why he was buried inside a house. “He built this house before he died and instructed his relatives to be buried there” Says Steve the soft spoken man with a lot of simplicity. We were allowed in by the care taker of Kakungulu’s grave and old house Mr. Hamis Nambale who looks like he is in his old 60s. As you enter, the immediate site is a front stone on the grave with words……..

“SEMEI LWAKIRENZI KAKUNGULU A victorious General, Saza Chief in Buganda, Administrator of Eastern province 1899 – 1905, President of Busoga 1906 -1913. Died 24th 11 1928”

His grave is surrounded by his tools of work that include spears that he used to take on his battle fronts. Each spear or tool there has its own meaning according to Steve.

SEMEI KAKUNGULU ANCIENT HOUSE

Darius – Show Host and Steve – Kakungulu Safaris standing infront of Semei Kakungulu House

VISIT ABAYUDAYA COMMUNITY

Under pressure from the British who wished to limit his holdings, in 1917 moved his residence a short distance further from Mbale town into a short distance in the foothills of MT elgon to a place called Gangama. It was there that he started a separatist sect initially called Ekibiina Kya Abayudaya abesiga Katonda (the community of Jews who trust in omnipotent God) which is made up of mostly Kakungulu’s Baganda following as told to us by Steve. When I visited the site, I could easily tell the difference with rest of the community.

In 1922, at Gangama, Kakungulu published a 90-page book of rules and prayers as a guide book for his Jewish community. “The book set fourth Jewish laws and practices as Kakungulu found them in the old testament as well” Says Rabbi Garshom Wambede who is the current Mbale Jewish community leader or teacher. I found out that despite this interest in Jewish practices, there does not appear to have any contact between Kakungulu and the Jewish practices before 1925.

According to Steve, many European engineers and mechanics who were employed by the British had a chance of meeting the Christian-Jewish community in Mbale in what appears to be chance encounters and then out of this Kakungulu was told about Orthodox Judaism. As a result his other Cristian values and customs were dropped and he adopted Judaism including practices of baptism.

From these encounters the community learned of citing Hebrew prayers, observing Sabbath on Saturday, slaughter meet in Kosher manner and also speak some Hebrew.

After Kakungulu death local sources say, the Abayudaya community was divided into those wishing to retain a toehold within Christianity and those wanting to break it completely. The Bayudaya remained a mixture of both Christianity and Judaism, with faith in Christ remaining in Kakungulu’s faith and beliefs.

Some of the young Abayudaya community members performing local dance for Darius

SEMEI KAKUNGULU UNFINISHED PALACE

Just few meters Steve leads me through a maize plantation walking through a small footpath with visible stones across on the same hill. “This man was ambitious, both in wars and establishing his dynasty” Says Steve as he looks at me firmly on the face. I nodded in agreement. I tasked Steve if he knew some of Semei daughters or sisters surviving and he told me there is one sister who stays near former president of Uganda Amin’s ware house in Lunguja, Rubaga Division, Kampala but they seem to have lost touch. If one of his children were still alive probably he would have finished this palace and ascend on the throne of Bamasaba, Steve re-affirmed me.

SEMEI KAKUNGULU COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

A kid traverses through Semei Kakungulu road that goes to the community school.

Some Baganda chauvinists believe and think Kakungulu was a great philanthropist who took religion and education in that area. They sometimes go as far as saying he took civilization in the area…………………. To be continued in the next episode

 

Please note that all views expressed in this blog are my own and from my experience. They not the views of my sponsors or my partners.

Feel free to share this and follow us on social media for more insights of Darius travel experience.

, , , , , ,

5 Days with Darius’ Trip to Iliza in Rwanda. Heaven on the Lake!!! Cont….

Iliza House Boat on the docking station at night

Its day four of my 5 Days with Darius’ Trip to Iliza in Rwanda. Heaven on the Lake!!! trip. Well, am finally obsessed by Kibuye archipelago and don’t feel like leaving. Even if it were you, I guess you would be the one doing this testimony. From the food to the enchanting water waves around Iliza, it becomes a police case to leave this nature’s hidden paradise.

I and my twins decide to go on an early morning sail on the lake and have a photo shoot in one of Lake Kivu’s islands and maybe enjoy nature, sunsets and the awe of the rolling hills of Kibuye and Eastern DRC I can’t deny the fact that Rwanda is blessed with such unique tourist destination.

Ngabo Darius Neumann and Ntwali Darius Young on Iliza. Dressed by Top Kids Kigali Store

Few meters from the docking site we landed on the first island that is more and best fit for honeymooners who want to pop the big question from the middle of nowhere. Ever travelled alone and you reach on some place then wonder why you didn’t tag someone along? I guess you understand what am meaning here. Never mind, its language for adults. But to be honest if you are an adult then get it from me and you will thank me later.

Some of the beautiful Islands where you can pop the question.

I mean its paradise for everyone. Even my twins reached there and connected to the world as I meditated watching over them. The island is safe for camping according to Captain Alphonse who doubles as my guide. “Many people come with tents and their food, they camp here for weeks and we keep moving them around touring” Says Alphonse.

 

The same was echoed by Aimable who is the manager for Iliza expeditions of which Iliza boat is part of. We have never gotten any single accident while on the island or on the boat. Safety of our clients is the key. Says Aimable. Meanwhile I came to learn that they actually don’t offer the boat experience but rather many other tour packages that include a 14 days itinerary for touring along Lake Kivu towards Democratic Republic of Congo.

You can Tour on Iliza boat even close to DRC boarder across Lake Kivu

Leaving Lake Kivu without enjoying the sundowners is as dangerous as touching the Leopard’s anus. I mean you would rather face a den of lions than leaving Kibuye without sailing in the evening. Since we were leaving the next day I could not risk sealing my Iliza boat experience with a sundowner. I know most of you are now imagining how you can get drunk on a boat rooftop bar while on water. Yes you are right I also had the same feeling until I found out its even safer to drink from the boat than an urban 4 storied bar. It’s even cleaner as you breathe fresh. It’s actually safer to sail on the boat than driving along Africa’s highways.

Darius enjoying sundowners on Iliza House boat

Kibuye ghost keeps haunting me to go back. Yes I just said so. You will want to pack your bags and go have a taste of this. It’s no longer a secret by the way! See you in the next destination

Ngabo Darius Neuman- Planner and Ntwali Darius Young- Social Affairs, enjoying the Bilharzia free lake Kivu with Darius Dos Santos – Implementer

Please note that all views expressed in this blog are my own and from my experience. They not the views of my sponsors or my partners. Images maybe subject to copyright. #twdtvshow.

Feel free to share this and follow us on social media for more insights of Darius travel experience.

, , ,

DARIUS’ SEMEI KAKUNGULU HERITAGE EXPERIENCE part 1

There are some things we take for granted when we are still in college or high school only to find it’s actually where our career and passion belongs. Little did I know at one particular moment, I will pack my bags, fuel the car and take a long trek to the land of Bamasaba and Sebei.
After close to 4 hours of a busy highway drive, am ushered into the old historical town of Mbale. By look of things this ancient majorly inhabited by Indians and people of Asian origin, is getting back on its feet in terms of hygiene. Clean and new roads can be seen everywhere with new paintings on buildings and so on. I called Steve who will be my guide on the Semei Kakungulu Heritage trip. From now onwards you will hear more of this name coming back.

Who is Steve?

Steve Posses for a picture with Darius.

Steve as I prefer to call him is a soft spoken young man in his early 40’s or late 30’s by my eyes judgment. Apart from being the proprietor of Semei Kakungulu country lodge he is also married to the great granddaughter of the Mighty Kakungulu, Rachael Kakungulu who also double as co-shareholder of all Kakungulu establishments including the famous Kakungulu Safaris and Semei Kakungulu Country lodge.

Rachael Kakungungulu. The grand grand daughter of Semei Kakungulu

 

It’s hard to talk about the history of British imperialism and imposition in East Africa without the mention of Kakungulu. He was a mercenary that the British used to impose their rule in major parts of Uganda but especially in what was referred to as Bukedi (East and North East Uganda). From my early years in primary, his collaboration with the British is not contestable but his role as a person is something am yet to know.

Who is Semei Lwakirenzi Kakungulu?

Semei Kakungulu. Internet Picture

 

Semei Lwakirenzi, who was later awarded the honorary tittle Kakungulu, was a son of a muganda called Semuwamba who was originally from Kazinga village near Seguku in current Busiro County. At an early age Semuwamba left Busiro for the Kingdom of Koki. There he joined the service of the Omukama of Koki, rising to the high post of katikiro. He had seven children one of whom Semei Lwakirenzi. Semuwamba later fell in disfavor and was executed together with his wife.

How did Semei rise to fame?

Kakungulu fled to Buddu in Buganda where he became friend with, and became blood brother of Yusuf Bijakuno, the son of the Pokino (county chief of Buddu). It was around this time that Semei on his old career of elephant hunting. Then early in kabaka Mwanga’s reign he became the mutongole chief of Kirumba in Buddu.
In 1893, when Colonel Henry Colville made a punitive attack on Bunyoro, Kakungulu commanded a force of 1,500 Baganda men who went with Colville and this enhanced Kakungulu’s reputation. In April 1895 Kakungulu was sent to capture two Kings in Lango sub region, this mission failed but he managed to get a lot of booty for himself and other 500 men. He was a man of missions and winning says Steve the proprietor of Semei Kakungulu country lodge and doubles as a guide for the Semei Kakungulu tour.

What do you see in the Semei Kakungulu Heritage Experience?

Me and Steve drove in Kakungulu Safaris Jeep for Just a 10 minutes or less from Mbale town rolling in the lower slopes of Mt. Elgon that ushered us into the home of the great statesman. A man who came from Buganda and conquered the East is none other than Semei Lwakirenzi Kakungulu. What welcomes you is a natural green acacia trees before you enter the magnificent eco-touristic country lodge . Reaching on top of Gangama hill, my soul had already been crippled not to wait for what to feed my eyes and camera on the hill.

Story continues in episode……. 2

Please note that all views expressed in this blog are my own and from my experience. They not the views of my sponsors or my partners.
Feel free to share this and follow us on social media for more insights of Darius travel experience.

5 Days with Darius’ Trip to Iliza in Rwanda. Heaven on the Lake!!!

Darius’ day 1 on a trip to Iliza

I have always said this and I have to repeat it. When my peers were looking for settling down, marry, take care of families and be elders of my village my heart was beating for something else. I just vehemently and adamantly say yes, yes, yes that was the whole beginning of my relationship failure. Having married as a teen to another teenager when our lusts and passions were still boiling above 100 degrees centigrade, personally I could not settle in a place that didn’t have all I wanted to see. I mean yes, our relationship actually ended while I was on another continent while adventuring the world. But listen I can’t blame anyone for their passions but rather say every choice you make, please bear all consequences as a man. True!! I had to bear this and I have authored, accepted and followed the principle with much Catholicism to be a father of two products that came out of my mistakes and passion to roam the world.

Darius pictured on a Lliza Shuttle to Kibuye with the kids dressed by Top Kids Kigali store.

Darius pictured on a Lliza Shuttle to Kibuye with the kids dressed by Top Kids Kigali store.

To you I would advise you go with your rib everywhere you go or risk being a single teenage dad like me. In my world we were left three. Ntwari Darius Young (Male10 years), Ngabo Darius Neumann (Female 8 years) and myself. Our court member who left us alone, we can’t tell the long story here. Maybe another day. It’s been 8 years and we selfishly love ourselves just the way we are.  I happily call them my twins now. In the following few days I will take you on in our journey to ILIZA “Heaven on the Lake”

Darius pictured on a Lliza Shuttle to Kibuye with the kids dressed by Top Kids Kigali store.

Darius pictured on a Lliza Shuttle to Kibuye with the kids dressed by Top Kids Kigali store.

 Last week, my twins and I went on an adventure to the Western province of Rwanda with one of our friend. Call her Grace. We booked a 2 night Mini Cruise on Lake Kivu at the cheapest price we shall not disclose here on Iliza boat. Our price included a shuttle from Rwanda’s capital city Kigali to the remote western district of Karongi or call it Kibuye as known by many. When the bell rang for end of term 1 in Uganda I rushed to their school and picked them for an immediate transfer to Kigali, Rwanda where the shuttle was supposed to pick us.

After a very long journey of about 10 hours by bus we checked in at Impala Hotel a three star mid range accommodation facility in the middle of Kigali city. The check-in process was quick and easy. I think they must have seen how tired the kids were. Within 5 minutes we were done already heading to the rooms for a quick freshen up. I will talk about Impala Hotel rooms and service another day. Day one is gone and so far not bad. But well the fatigue of the long road trip from Kampala to Kigali could be easily noticed on the kids faces at a glance.

In town.

The New Impala Hotel in Muhima Kigali.

Darius’ Day 2 Trip to Iliza.

Our day two began with a sumptuous breakfast from Impala hotel. Besides that we are fresh and ready to have a quick optical nutrition of the most cleanest city in Africa if not the whole world. From Impala Hotel to the next street, the first mesmerizing thing we see is a well stone paved road that leads us to the magnificent CHIC building built in modern architecture that looks more like what we have always watched in Hollywood movies. Seeing the streets of Kigali one feels like it’s even safer and does more good to walk than to have a car or bike ride. Yes it is! Am nodding my head in agreement.

Kigali city view from CHIC building.

The New Impala Hotel in Muhima Kigali.

Kigali situated on a hilly area accommodates a number of shopping malls with banks, restaurants and much more to offer a foreigner coming to Rwanda even for the first time. Call it having all your shopping experience without necessarily leaving one building. At this point I just landed on a huge kids store located in one of the malls that house the central market or call it Nyarugenge market as told by locals. Basically you can find everything from food to wear from all types and souvenirs in this market.

Top kids store has everything for children. For parties, school, home and holiday fashions. Since we were out for a holiday basically my twins had to jump in for the best fashions to have on the boat.

Top Kids Store Kigali in Nyarugenge market.

Darius pictured in Top Kids Store Kigali in Nyarugenge market.

Our holiday bags are full and what next? Our transfer van was waiting. It’s a modern luxury family van of Volkswagen type. Asking our driver who came on time, he said we had a three and half hours drive rolling through the beautiful hills of Western Rwanda. It was an awesome journey. Disappearing into green ascents and descents. Roads are well paved but of course you will never miss some sections of the road that will give you a thorough African massage especially after crossing Nyabarongo river. The hills are above 1,600 meters above sea level and may take extra courage to maintain your brain balance while maneuvering these sharp bends.

The Darius' in Kibuye town heading to Iliza.

The Darius’ in Kibuye town heading to Iliza.

As we were still coming to an agreement on what we have seen, a big poster like gate welcomes you to Karongi on one side while wishing you a safe journey on the other. Quickly we jump out of the van to see how locals live. What about sharing with us the best fruits that Karongi hills offer?? When am travelling in my usual road trips I always look for small things that have a magnificent impact to me and my followers. Things that you can enjoy without breaking a bank. No doubt, Karongi people are generous people, they offered us guavas ( Amapera) in the local language. No doubt we enjoyed to the fullest.

Darius pictured eating guavas with the locals.

Darius pictured on a yacht with his children smart, dressed by Top Kids Store Kigali.

Karongi is so contagious. Clean roads and friendly people never make you feel like leaving the town. But well it was high time we checked in the sumptuous Iliza boat. From now onwards the trip became another story…………….See you next week for another round of my 5 days on Iliza, Heaven on the Lake.

,

10 Must Have For a Successful Group Tour in Rwanda, Number 2 & 3 Will Surprise You

Its early morning me and my friends decide to take a road trip from Kigali to Musanze found in northern Rwanda, then to Gisenyi and finally Nyungwe national park found in the western part of the country. Basically from the north to the south and finally settle to the west of the country. To be honest it’s one of the memorable trips we have taken during our recent trips in Rwanda.

7 of us decided to put together the little resources we had and took the road less travelled by many in Rwanda. What do I mean?  Camping, street food, budget food and budget accommodation in case we failed to get where to erect our tents. Let me first put for you the basic needs you need to pack before taking this kind of trip.

7 Seater Land cruiser provided by Amahoro Tours.

7 Seater Land cruiser provided by Amahoro Tours.

 

  1. Most of the trading centers and towns in Rwanda have markets but there is one problem. They sell locally produced foods like veggies and the likes. If you are a person who likes fresh food then don’t pack any because fresh food is available everywhere. But if you like manufactured food, please don’t leave the big towns like Kigali without packing enough. If your intention is to adventure and eat what you like at a minimum budget, this is the way to go.
  2. Cooking Gas. This is a must pack. These days we are lucky to have a variety of choices and different sizes that can fit your car boot or side car mobile store. For us we were lucky to grab one non-explosive cylinder from Safe Gas Rwanda. It’s a 12 Kgs gas cylinder with plastic cover to avoid scratches on your car in case you don’t have its holder and as you hear it its non-explosive meaning safer than the common metallic gas cylinders. Their stores are available everywhere in the country. I know you want to ask me gas for what? Of course we are looking at ways of saving your money on a trip and cook the best dish you want. Isn’t that a sweet thing? This you avoid hefty bills charged by hotels and restaurants and you still go unsatisfied. You can prepare you freekin finger leaking food anywhere anytime. You just stop and set up your kitchen in two minutes and the next five you are eating your food. No waiter, no chef and nor big bills after eating. It’s that simple!!!
  3. Gas stoves and cooking oil. Of course this is a cooking companion like all of you know that. We got one family stove from GLAMSTAR INTERNATIONAL Rwanda office with three stove cooking space and the best side of it is, it has a self ignition. So no need for matchboxes and whatever. Isn’t that a good thing? In the same store we found Mala cooking oil and we got ourselves a 5 liter jerry can. I bet we still have balance from the trip for all our families at home or maybe for the next two trips of the kind.
  4. 7 Seator car. Of course the number matters. You are well conversant that in Rwanda there is no excess passenger just like in any other part of the world. We had this 7 seator Monster from Amahoro Tours, the number one travel company in Rwanda. It has extra space behind for luggage, enough seating area and comfortable seats to make your trip memorable.
  5. Musanze is very cold and so is Nyungwe near Kivu Lake. Temperatures can go for as low as 15`c and some of us who are used to hot areas you can catch up a cold.
  6. Rain coats. These two areas of Rwanda are so surprising. In few minutes it rains and in the next few seconds it’s damn sunny. But most of the times it’s raining or drizzling. If not one of the two then it’s cold cloudy. We got some from Narayan Uniforms store located just after Chezlando round about in Remera on airport road. It’s the best so far we have used.
  7. Hiking shoes. Take this more serious please!!!! 90% this part of Rwanda is hilly and mountainous. Most of the places with fun or good adventure lie between 2,500 ft to 9,000 ft above sea level. All these places are steep and slippery or maybe with sharp volcanic dry lava stones. These we still got from Narayan uniforms store on the same address
  8. Walking stick. This we managed to get one on Rwanda development board offices but in case you are not comfortable with theirs which is locally made wood, then it’s better to carry yours. This will support you on the steep slopes while hiking the volcanoes, and steep hills of western Rwanda. At Gorilla Mountain view hotel in Musanze they are always kind enough to give you one if you request early enough from reception.
  9. Protective gear. These include helmets, gloves and more. We had a plan of visiting Musanze caves and many more jungles that are quiet risky on the body. Bats droppings for example can damage your skin. Bats are found in Musanze caves. You can still get this from Narayan Uniforms store. Good quality and reliable. At RDB reception in Musanze you can as well get some for park guests.
  10. Tents and beddings. Camping is not a common habit among Rwandans. But to be honest its even the most safest country you can go camping in Africa. You will not expect to find your shoes or side mirror of the car missing. You just need to let authorities know that you are around. Late in the evening we would see police and army patrolling the whole place and that would give us an assurance that we are safer. More still there are so many places all over that give you an option of setting up your own tent at an affordable cost. For example in Musanze we slept at Redrocks on a peanut budget. In Nyungwe we camped at Uwinka on the same size budget. Tents are available in many stores in Kigali.
Camping is Available at Red Rocks Rwanda on small budget.

Camping is Available at Red Rocks Rwanda on small budget.

 

I know now you are asking yourself that all this luxury how much did we spend? Well its just USD$960 for this 5 days trip 7 people. Including all everything. Unbelievable!! Isn’t it?

What do you think?

Watch our trip here in this episode – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YHcKkyD1ks