Encounters and happings

At the airport of Kigali I had a quick chat with a guy upon arrival. We were both undergoing (and observing) the visa procedure. Queues, paperwork, from the one counter to the other counter. A payment such, a stamp so. Interesting? Annoying? Funny? We finally got through. And laughed. Good to be there.


I made my way from Kigali to Musanze on Tuesday evening 29 April 2014. To the lovely Garden House of Elaine and Kavos, where I stayed before in November 2011. We got to know each other, we have mutual friends, we stayed in contact and it is simply a comfortable B&B with a beautiful garden and fun dogs. I can recommend it to anyone travelling to the region and not wanting to stay in an anonymous hotel, but something more homely. Bradt’s Rwanda Guide:



I was about to catch up with a contact of mine from Malawi. We met at Lake Malawi in February 2011, when we were both working on projects there. Lut is a Belgian lady, who works for KBC Bank and volunteers for a related institute called BSR in microfinance on a regular basis. She is for a project in Rwanda this time and our schedules matched, so she st. Good seeing her both on a professional as well as personal basis. BRS is also active in the DRC.



Visoke crater lake, 3,711m

Visoke crater lake, 3,711m

Lut and I wanted to combine business with pleasure, so instead of setting up a formal meeting, we agreed via email that we would talk and walk. The walk would be a hike. On the Visoke volcano. An experienced guide Edward led our group (a loud American girl, a clever South-African guy, an alternative German guy and the two of us) to the top. We had fun. The top with the crater lake is 3,711 meters. It was challenging and beautiful! Slippery slopes. As life and business can be.


Then, I had an unexpected and amazing encounter with Annette Lanjouw at the Visoke- and mountain gorilla tracking meeting place. She is a great expert on the (conservation of) Great Apes. We happened to have worked for the same organisation at the same place before: Frankfurt Zoological Society in Tongo. A small region in Virunga, DRC. We exchanged emails, ideas and photos, but never met.


Hotel Muhabura

Hotel Muhabura

That Wednesday evening, after the Visoke climb, Lut and I went to Hotel Muhabura for internet and for dinner. We sat next to Jan, founder of Voluntourismtips. Interesting character. He showed us Dian Fossey’s room in the hotel. When she wasn’t in the jungle, she used to have room number 12 in Hotel Muhabura in Musanze.




Thursday morning after an early breakfast, Lut and I visited the local market and then it was time for Lut to take her transport to Kigali. I stayed another day.


I had to get some emails out for work, so I went back to Muhabura for a cup of tea and a good internet connection. After some hours, it was time for a walk and just next to the hotel I bumped into the same guy as at Kigali Airport.


Operation Smile

Operation Smile

Niels is his name. A medical doctor. On a mission for “Operation Smile”. An amazing programme, please find more information via:


He and his surgeon colleagues volunteer all over the world to help children with cleft conditions or other facial deformities. They are in Musanze on a regular basis.


I went back to the Garden House. Some of Elaine’s and my mutual friends came for a drink. We had a lovely time on the veranda in the late afternoon light. We laughed about the “daily hectics” in African life and work. Jan, a Gorilla Doctor, was there.


Gorilla Doctors

Gorilla Doctors





In my next blog post I will explain how all these encounters and happenings may come together… To be continued.


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