Rwanda Day 3: Chimpanzees

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Reading this week:

  • American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

The big highlight of this day was chimpanzee tracking. I woke up early early in the morning and met up with the group at the Gisikuru Ranger Station. From there we drove about an hour and a half to an isolated patch of forest where a habituated group of chimpanzees live. The gorillas gave me high expectations for the chimpanzees, despite warnings. We parked our cars at the edge of the forest and set out on foot. The walk was farther than I anticipated, though not actually that far, though the guide kept saying things like “we are close” when our definitions of “close” differed significantly. Eventually we went off the trail, down a slick near-vertical portion of the hill. “Not far!” I was annoyed and the views of the chimpanzees weren’t that good. We kept shifting slightly over the cliff face there to try to get a better view, but it was only faraway glimpses of chimps through trees. Ugh. We eventually went back to the trail and things got better.

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A small group of the chimps (three or four) were walking down the trail and we were basically following them. I got some pictures of chimp butts. Eventually though the chimps climbed a tree to eat some fruit and we scrambled up the hill a short ways and were pretty level with the chimps and got some great photos. One of the dudes on the trek had this huge camera he had a porter carry. It was impressive. We hung out for a while watching the chimps eat and climb around some and then eventually they left and we did too. I was annoyed on the way back because some of the people were super slow and it took forever to get back but we got back.

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From there I set off for Kibuye. The drive is fantastic. Most of it is right along Lake Kivu, hugging the hills that descend into twisty bays all along the coast of the lake. I got to Kibuye and was hungry for lunch. I wound up at Home Saint Jean to get some food. I was trying to find another place but Maps.me lead me there and I was okay with that. It’s this gorgeous castle-looking place perched on a hill that juts out into the bay, maybe 100m up from the lake. I had a rather good lunch and the manager convinced me to get a room because it was only 15000 francs and a pretty nice room with a lake view.

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Continuing my collection of national museums, I darted off to visit the Museum of the Environment. The tour guide showed me around; it is a pretty nice museum though very small. The most interesting thing for me is the Apollo Moon Rock that Reagan gave the country back in 1973. They had a display on energy production and I found out a drill platform looking thing I spotted in the lake from Rubavu is the methane extraction platform so that’s neat. Also that Rwanda produces a good chunk of electricity from peat. The guide told me that the evolution display is kinda contentious in Rwanda, and that he has had trouble convincing people that butterflies come from caterpillars. They have some stuffed animals and I think their star display is of a crocodile found with some shoes undigested in its stomach (the shoes are also displayed). On the roof they have some native plants which were neat to see and then the museum was pretty much over. After that I came back to the hotel and just hung out because frankly I was pretty exhausted from all the traveling. I haven’t been to the Mediterranean but you could have convinced me the view was in the most picturesque chunk of Italy or Greece.

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