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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.

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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.

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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

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EVERYDAY IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN

By Edmund Kagire

When I got an invitation to attend the Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan the week running October 21 to 27, 2018, I was a bit hesitant to accept it but then I said what the hell, let me just take it on. After all I am the adventurous type.

I set off on October 21 to what turned out to be a whirlwind week of new experiences, exposure and new human connections. The journey was smooth, taking Rwandair from Kigali to Dubai & then Air Astana from Dubai to Astana. I had never heard of the airline. It is a very pleasant airline with good service -one of the best in EuraAsia, if not the best. It boast of over 30 aircraft in its fleet and operates in at least 64 destinations.

Interesting. In Kinyarwanda they say “Akanyoni katagurutse ntikamenya iyo bweze”, literally meaning that a bird that never flies will never know where the millet harvest is. I had been told that racism is rife in Russia and all Slavic countries formerly linked to the Soviet Union. I expected to be ‘unwelcome’ but it was not the case in Kazakhstan. Kazakhs are very hospitable people and will do anything to help you even though you might struggle to communicate if you don’t speak Kazakh or Russian. Right from the airport to the conference centre and malls, they would go out of their way to make sure that all is well. Occasionally, they will talk amongst themselves and laugh but it all seemed in good faith (I didn’t read much into it) and in line with helping you to get what you wanted. Kazakhstan is a very organised country. The discipline and time keeping is impressive.

The Palace of Independence where the meeting was held is a beautiful piece of architecture and hosts thousands of people. The organisation was top notch. The Astana Opera House experience was out of this world. The opera house, which was right opposite my hotel, was breathtaking. It is said to be the 3rd biggest opera house in the world in terms of capacity. I haven’t seen anything well built as that architectural marvel. The performances were overwhelming. Astana is a young city. It turned 20 recently in June but it looks more established than most cities that are over a century old. The architecture in Astana is unbelievable, almost science fiction stuff. I am working on a travel piece for The East African, you will read more details there.

All in all, I just wanted to say that everyday presents us an opportunity to learn and be more informed on what the world has to offer. My perception of Kazakhstan has forever changed for the better. The more we learn, the better we become as human beings. We just have to be open minded

Views expressed in this blog are 100% an experience of the traveller or writter not of Travel With Darius TV Blog

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20 Hygiene Must Pack Hygiene Products You May Need to Make Your Trip Successful Whether on Budget Safari or Luxury

Most of the times, there are certain things we take for granted. Recently I slept in a luxury hotel and time came to move. I didn’t have time to go and pass by the shopping mall and so the only option was to pack some of the things this hotel had put in my room for me to use. My friend laughed at me and you could be laughing at me too or wondering why I did that. Well our trip was almost 300 miles away. We woke up early and took our breakfast. You know these luxury Hotels Breakfast tables have a lot and its like everything is calling you “eat me please” So we packed our stomachs to the fullest and packed more for the trip aside. Guess what!! As we got somewhere a nature was calling and I needed to visit the toilet.  We borrowed that private behind room from the roadside local residence. These are toilets where they dig a hole and put strong trees on top of the whole leaving one small whole where you will pass all your shit from while squatting. Some are roofed others not depending on the household income but mine wasn’t roofed at all.

If you have ever pulled over to a far distance maybe with children or adults and nature calls and you start looking around for even an eucalyptus tree branches to help you and nothing can save you then all of a sudden you land on an old receipt in your bag or pocket then you will understand what am talking about. There are many things we rarely take into consideration. One of them is soft tissues or commonly known as Toilet papers while you are travelling.

From my experience as male traveler, in terms of hygiene there are key priority things I put on the list. Of course am not going to include women must carry things here although most of them are universal.  These are things you must pack in a different water proof bag since most of them need to be protected from weather effects of sunshine and rain. These 20 items will keep you going smoothly in any corner of the world and you will be a hygienic traveler. I will not talk about anything you have to wear as of now, maybe in my next article.

1. Sanitizers
These I came to learn about them when I was a guide back in the years. In Africa just like any other part of the world, the culture of greeting using handshakes is quiet unavoidable. Am not going to mention that some people scratch anywhere anytime or any part of their body…Did I say that? Never Mind but as you meet a food vendor you will just not remember to wash your hands. That’s where Sanitizers are handy. Most of them kill 99% of bacteria and you can just wash your hands without using soap and water.

2. Soft Tissues
This is another thing. As I had earlier mentioned this soft tissue or commonly called Toilet par is handy when nature calls and you have to visit what we have always called “back office” There are many brands on the Market but as for me I have always used “CLEAR” brand from Trust industries

3. Hand wash
This is liquid soap like but basically made for hands. Unlike sanitizes this works with water but can eliminate up to 90% of germs that cause diseases. The most common one is from Movit products Ltd in Uganda and Trust Industries Ltd Rwanda. It’s well formulated in a way that is soft on the skin and hands.

4. Facial tissues
These are sometimes called facial wipes. Some are wet with cleansing fluids or even spirit to kill germs and bacteria. But depending on one’s skin you can choose anything you are comfortable with. I recommend dry ones from Trust Industries LTD also with the “CLEAR” brand on it.

5. Mouth Wash. This is another handy product especially if you have mouth infections and small injuries. This helps you to cure that with the fastest spread. I love eating raw fruits especially sugarcane and get small injuries on the tongue and mouth walls. I recommend one without alcohol mixture in it. Please note that it doesn’t cure big cuts. If you get kindly visit a health facility nearby or consult your doctor.

6. Shower gel or anti bacterial Soap or water cleansing tablets
Water purifiers are more important than anything else. You may be travelling and you find there is no nearby shop to buy clean water to drink or even wash your hands. Am suing CLEAR brand made by Trust Industries Rwanda You wanna try it?

7. Hair Shampoo
Okay, to be honest I have a bald head. But to be honest its not all bald. Of course I have hair left. Dirtiness and maybe fun on the beach will never leave you hair the same as it is. So you will need to wash it thoroughly well for relaxation and softness of the hair. I normally carry my hair shampoo. Currently am using Movit hair shampoo which is available everywhere

8. Hair Drier
Of course after washing your hair you will suddenly need to keep it dry and most luxurious hotels or even mid luxury have this service. But wait I did not say they are not available but I said just in case you don’t find them. I have traveled to many mid luxury reports in Africa and only few of them had this. Others would charge for this service. So the most cost effective way is to carry your own and be at peace without necessarily moving out of your comfort zone or paying an extra dollar after the hefty room bill.

9. Shavers, Scissors and Razor blades
Apart from this being useful to keep your hair short where you don’t have time for saloon or where there is no saloon, its even essential to carry them because they are first aid kits. Besides these days there are many rechargeable kits all over the shopping malls.

10. After shave powder and lotions foam
This is very key because bodies react differently after shaving. You will need to apply this to avoid any possible pimples and rush that may develop. I have personally used Gillette brand for after shavers.

11. Body lotions, sun lotions and mouth washing liquid
Travelling to anew weather area can be tricky. Some areas have scorching sun yet others have too much humidity while others are freezing. Basically if you are a fan of water games like white water rafting we did recently at Adrift Uganda please don’t leave your sun and body lotions behind. Mouth was is the same because it protects your mouth from any infections. I swallowed around 5 liters of water at Adrift Uganda white water rafting adventure because of little experience in swimming and so was my co-host Daphine

12. Perfume
I am a man of good smell or scents. Of course I can’t rule out the fact that some people are allergic to some strong scents. So please be cautious of the brand you chose depending on where you want to go and who you want to go with. Personally I have a range of them but if am travelling alone I can use any strong one.

13. Insect repellent
I remember one day when we made a very long trip across Uganda with my friend and customer Mark Metternich in early 2017. Mark is is the CEO of Mark Metternich Photography. Everything was moving well but one small poisonous insect spoilt his mood that was a wasp. It’s a very small insect but the pain you carry after it pushes its sting in your flesh, I would rather carry an elephant and it’s understandable. Of course as a guide when you client isn’t that happy, you are not sure whether your tip will come or maybe listen to what you are telling him. That brings bad memories. But well for Mark he had a lot of humor and that came to pass easily and we were back to our moods. Don’t forget this because many other disease causing insects like flies and mosquitoes are common. You can get many of these in a local pharmacy. The good ones are liquids or sprayers you can use on your body or tent or even your clothes.

14. Sun Glasses
They help you on dusty roads and sometimes weather in some countries the sun is too bright. To most of us its even fashionable.

15. Cigarette bag that is separate if you smoke
Personally I don’t smoke but if you do most national parks and hotels have no smoking areas.

16. Sponge
Ever been to hotels that don’t provide this and you start looking at your pants? Please carry one.

17. Tooth brush and toothpaste
Some hotels do provide others don’t. Better to carry your own

18. Extra body and facial towel
This will be handy just in case you don’t get good accommodation and you have to camp. Most camping sites don’t provide this service.

19. Toilet cleaner
Ever gone to the toilet after the last person and all your problems are solved at the entrance? Some like CLEAR will even solve it better because they kill germs at the same time provide a nice scent since you deserve comfort everywhere on your trip.

20. Washing powder
Well, well once in a while you will need to wash small items. Dry powder is the best because soap may require another water proof container

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So What Do You Put On A Family Camping Packing List For An Ordinary Camping In Rwanda

In reality the answer is LOTS of clothes and as little other stuff as possible!  You basically have to pack for a whole fashion house in one weekend or the longer you will stay on the road the more items you will need which means it includes wellies, flip flops, trainers, rain coats and sun hats, but you can’t park your car next to your tent like you can do on an ordinary camping trip so it means carrying everything (sometimes quite a long distance) from the car to the tent!!. On my recent visit to Musanze in Northern Rwanda I met a couple on a road trip camping at Red Rocks Campsite and they taught me a lesson..

Here are some of the lessons I learnt from them:

  • Camping trolley to transport everything to your tent, bedding etc. However depending on the place you are going to, this can be more of a hindrance, particularly if it’s muddy.
  • Large back packs work better for us with clothes in, leaving hands free for other items!
  • Walking and Hiking Shoes – Northern Rwanda is a mountainous place and best place for hiking and all other community walks. Some of the village community walks are muddy so you may need good soled shoes. Others are rocky so you may need good rubber shoes comfortable to walk in the sharp volcanic dry lava stones
  • Trainers – If I can fit them in (and I usually do) I like to take trainers for us all to wear when we get back to the tent and are chilling out.  I hate wearing wellies for longer than I have to and I also detest wearing wet shoes. Extra socks and dry trainers are a luxury for me.
  • Sleeping Bags – worth investing in good quality ones as they pack down small and keep you actually warm.  Musanze has a lot of cold nights and it may be tricky if you land on a very cold night. Some hotels will always give you an extra blanket but then for camping its quiet challenging to rely on their provision
  • Picnic rug – We favour a tent carpet when camping for longer periods of time but a waterproof backed picnic rug is multipurpose for a camping trip as you can take it into the picnic  I still love small and light when am packing.
  • Spare Bag!  – However organised I think I am, I always find myself carrying more things around at every trip, whether it is near or far but I have always found myself with extra luggage. Try an extra small pack pack bag that can save your day.
  • Raincoats for all the family!
  • Sun cream – I’m a black or dark-skinned man as you call it. That means I absorb a lot of sun rays than anyone. One of the things I don’t forget is my sun cream to protect me from the too much sun heat.
  • ID bands with your child’s name and your emergency contact details on them, or you can write your phone number. Children are very funny, they can jump in the neighbourhood while you are away
  • Sun Hats and Sunglasses- I mean you never know.
  • Tent – However don’t let the lack of a tent put you off camping as most camping sites now have ones that are already erected that you can hire for the weekend. If you are going to buy one make sure you buy one for more people than you think, as a tent for 4 is not comfortable for 4 people!
  • Water and Snacks – Once you’ve reached on the site you and you kids will ALWAYS want a drink and will inevitably be be hungry. We take a large box of cereal that they like to eat dry too.
  • Clothes – Basically lots of layers.  They will get mucky, likely to get wet and they will want fresh clothes to change into!
  • Footless Onesies – Thick and warm to put on before bed, but without the feet means they won’t get damp feet.
  • Potty for children if you have – Regardless of the age of your children, I might* have used it myself in the past too.
  • Self inflating sleep mats – much easier to transport than air beds and pretty much as comfortable.
  • Toilet Paper – Essential – enough said.
  • Wet wipes and Hand Sanitiser – Lots. In Africa disease causing germs are many and you will always want to greet people by shaking hands. If you even white its more worse because children touching mzungu-White person.
  • Mini First Aid Kit – Although most camping sites will have this it’s good to have plasters, antiseptic wipes, and aspirin etc with you.