South West Rwanda toward Nyungwe Forest

6th August
Nyamabuye to Gikongoro
Distance-105km
Road food- flatbread and fruit

This morning I woke to a small market which popped up outside my room. Watching from above to see people interact, it felt quite fly on the wall. See below.

After egg and bread for breakfast I set off starting at a cross road, my journey could go two ways and for one fleeting moment I considered heading North back to team Rwanda. Short lived though. It was thank god mostly descending to start. It really lifted the spirits. I’m getting used to the attention, people are mostly amazed to see a white woman on a bike. Feeling more relaxed I stopped for more water and freshly made flat bread, it was quite pleasant sitting with the warm afternoon sun on my face and watching the world go by. There were less big lorries and more variety of landscape, following the river and finally a massive climb (image below) The bicycle taxis were holding onto the back of lorries (only moving slightly faster and bellowing smoke) They were inviting me to join but I know I would fall off and my Strava mentality wouldn’t allow it. I finished at Gikongoro it was easy to find the only hotel and the trees surrounding the hotel were filled with fruit bats (see image below) I spent sometime watching them that evening.

I heard the Muslim call to prayer for the first time since arriving in Rwanda, as books say there is a small population of Muslims here.

Back to the not laughing, My life in London is amazing with excellent friends and a brilliant freelance job which gives me a fantastic lifestyle. I’m relaxed happy and laugh a lot. Now in Rwanda on my own I’m focused and making myself vulnerable by cycling on my own. I feel constantly challenged so it’s not fun yet very rewarding in other ways.

7th August
Gikongoro through Nyungwe Forest
Road food-eggs and bananas
Distance-100km

Packed myself up, got the touring get up on and wheeled the bike to breakfast and low and behold two more bike tourers. I was so happy to see my own breed. They’ve travelled for 5 months and decided to do some spontaneous bike touring in Rwanda. It was quite an accomplishment they picked up everything in Kigali including camping gear.
They set off before me and I met them on a hill. The bikes aren’t good and the weight is unbalanced so they were walking up a lot of the hills. That’s brave I wouldn’t want all those kids grabbing at the bike as you’re dragging it up the long hot climbs. I was very happy to see my comrades again though if only briefly.

As I was heading up another long hill surrounded by a eucalyptus wood kids were coming out of the trees. they were the poorest I’ve seen yet, covered in dirt, runny noses, clothes or rags rotting off and no shoes. They were hissing umuzunguoooooo hiss hiss money money’ running toward me as I was cycling up a big hill before long there was around 10 all running around me begging for money. I’d like to say I stopped and gave them money but I didn’t, I road hard up that hill to get away. The next 30km was broken roads with massive lorries and machinery working as I entered Nyungwe forest. A lot of dust, working the bike through gravelly sand and big drops to the forest below. I took it steady, 90 minutes later I road into the most perfect road with very little traffic. Stopped at a information spot to get water and a guide approached asking what my cycling jersey meant, I explained it’s an island which belongs to Spain. He said that in Rwandan ‘Ibiza’ means natural disaster. That was very funny!

Now it feeling like a national park, to cycle through somewhere like this and be alone with what feels like dense and noisy yet peaceful ecosystem. The decending out of the forest was delicious, smooth, fast with incredible corners. Coming out of Nyungwe Forest and into well ordered Tea plantations it was a short ride to the hotel. I was treating myself but was disappointed. It had the most breath taking views (image below) but it was empty and the staff acting robotically around me. Weird. Good buffet though. IMG_4595-0.JPG
Early morning market

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Here’s the empty hotel with breath taking views.

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