Arriving in Musanze, Rwanda by Land Cruiser

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(This post is mostly about travel particulars, so likely quite boring to those not planning such a trip.  Just fair warning...)

Crossing borders by land in Africa is always a potential treasure trove of stories.  (Our highlight being an immigration official in Kasika, Namibia not being there, and having to be rounded up from the bar to come down and stamp our passports.)

This wasn't terribly exciting, but the ridiculous amount of paperwork and bureaucracy is always amusing.  We first went to a little shed with a Ugandan police officer who took down our information.  We told him our professions were "marketing" and "HR".  He didn't seem to believe that these were real jobs, but he didn't press us.  He then gave us a tiny piece of scrap paper with his initials on it to take to Immigration. 

At Ugandan Immigration we filled out our departure cards, turned in our previously acquired scraps of paper, and quickly had our exit stamps in our passport.

While Baker was handling all the paperwork to bring the car into Rwanda, we walked over to Rwanda to get our entry stamp there.  A little tip if you're making this walk: don't take a shortcut in the grass.  Stick to the road.  The Rwandan police politely summoned us to explain that the grass is not to be used for border crossing.  Lesson learned.  Americans get a free Visa on arrival in Rwanda, so we filled out our arrival cards and were quickly good to go.

As mentioned before, our driver handled all the paperwork for the car at the border.  But here are some details on that to give you an idea of the costs involved.  You need a Cart D'Entree that cost us 15,000 Rwandan Francs.  And you'll also need to buy some car insurance which set us back 10,040 Rwandan Francs.  So about $45 USD.

Money in Rwanda is sorta odd.  ATMs there don't accept foreign cards, so with Baker's assistance we did some ForEx at the border for some Rwandan Francs to last us a day.  We probably lost like $5 due to a shoddy rate, but it worked for the given situation.

The first things we noticed as we started driving in Rwanda: (1) they drive on the "right" side, (2) they have very nicely paved roads, (3) their roads are very narrow, (4) there are ditches next to the road/no sidewalks for people, and (5) the roads seem even narrower due to the hordes of people walking six abreast on them.  Baker did not seem to appreciate Rwanda giving pedestrians the right of the road.  His speed was also quite curbed from Uganda.

We elected to stay in Musanze, which is less than 30-minutes from the Parc de Volcans headquarters that is the morning meeting place for gorilla tracking in Rwanda.  There are many options closer to the park headquarters, but for $65 USD we got a brand new, clean room with a decent enough wifi connection and DSTV at the Virunga Hotel.  I painlessly booked directly with them via email.

The downsides to staying here were that street noise late at night can be a bit loud, and we also learned that since they don't really cater to gorilla tourists, their concept of a packed lunch was quite poor, but the wifi was really great!  Plus the view from the room wasn't too shabby:

View from Virunga Hotel

One quirk about the room: can anybody explain if it's possible to shower in a shower without a shower curtain and not drench the rest of the bathroom?

Wet Bathroom

We went for dinner at the Tourist Rest Hotel where we found a buffet.  It reminded me of the Vegas Vacation line: "Best buck forty-nine boofet in town."  However this buffet was closer to $2.99.

There was a menu laying on the table and Lillie for some crazy reason made the assumption that just because something was on the menu that they actually served said item.  She asked for some chocolate crepes for dessert.  After much consultation amongst the staff, they agreed they could make it.  Twenty five minutes later (after a trip to the store?) they brought out the crepes.

Can't imagine there are too many culinary gems in Musanze, so this place was definitely fine.  And the staff very nice.

We obviously would have had a more peaceful and tranquil experience staying outside of town and nearer the park.  But we found it to be a nice little change of pace staying in town.  Also the price was attractive to us. 


What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious know-how about unpredicted feelings.

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