Walking tours in Kigali

A few weeks ago, I had business trip to Rwanda.

Rwanda is an incredible success story.   It seems to be as clean and organized as Singapore.

There is no garbage on the streets at all.  I was told that guns are illegal and the crime rate is very low.

As loyal readers know, I am big into experiencing the world and traveling to dodgy places — the dodgier the country the more excited I am to go.
But I quickly, understood that Rwanda isn’t dodgy or dangerous and nothing like what i expected it to be.

Over the past 8 years, I take my oldest daughter, Marie each year on a trip to visit a different country.  These trips have helped open her mind to the world.

This year, my 13 year old daughter, “Giovanna” was on spring break the same week of my business trip, so i took her with me, thus beginning the same annual travel ritual with her.

The direct flight from Dubai to Kigali on Rwanda Air was easy and efficient.  (Emirates does not fly direct)

We spent the first few days doing a mountain gorillas trek a few hours drive outside Kigali.  We stayed at the “Virunga Lodge” that is owned by the company “Volcanoes Safari” (I highly recommend both the lodge and the tour company – details below)

There are a few gorillas families people can hike to and visit them for up to an hour.  Giovanna and I chose the furthest family which had the longest hike (4 hours) We wanted to hike deep into the jungle, and not have other people with us on the visit.

Our guide’s name was Emmanuel and he went out of his way to show us a great experience. All in all we saw a family of 15 and 3 silverback.

We were able to get within inches of the gorillas, and several times they walked by and rubbed against us. A surreal experience. The hike took about 4 hours and was on the other side of the mountain, just below the mist.

There are no paths to follow.  The guides literally cut the way for us.  I have been on several safaris throughout Africa and Asia, but I have never experienced anything like the dense jungle we hiked in Rwanda.

We spent a little bit more than an hour with the gorillas, and then walked back down … the hike down took us only 3 hours.  It was easy and pleasurable .

The next day, I took Giovanna to a local school and she got to experience first hand learning in the village school.


We also saw many many people walking along the main roads carrying large boxes, bags, sticks, and even rocks on their heads … some of the young women looked as young as Gio.  She seemed to be deeply touched, and was dead quiet during these drives, looking and smiling out the window to the people.  I kept pointing out to Gio that these people don’t look like they have snapchat.

A great memory is seeing a bunch of kids sat in front of a shop … I told our driver to pull over and I bought all the children candy and freshly baked bread.  I was very impressed with how organized the kids quickly got once it was announced I was buying everyone candy and fresh bread.  There was no fighting or pushing, and the kids organized themselves on their own without any adult guiding them or telling them what to do.

One of the sweetest kids in the group, his name was “Heaven” and his best friend is named “Precious.”

The last couple days, we went back to Kigali for work, but we also visited some sites including the genocide museum which is beyond words.  It is unbelievable to think this amazing, modernizing and very clean east African country went through a genocide 20 years ago.

Everyone we met in Rwanda was friendly.  People went out of their way to make sure Giovanna was happy and having a great experience.

Our last night in Rwanda, I got a WhatsApp message from a close friend of mine who lives in Los Angeles.

When I told him I was in Rwanda, he seemed very worried and replied telling me to “be careful and watch my back.”

The world is much different than what we see on CNN.

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