Eid is a time of celebration in the Middle East and is a public holiday across the region. Many expats use Eid as a chance to get away, especially when Eid is in the summer. Private sector workers tend to get three days public holiday while governmental workers get five days so it is the perfect chance to take a break and escape the Middle East summer. Here are the perfect Eid escapes all under five hours flight from the Middle East and reachable by a direct flight. Here my favourite Middle East bloggers and me tell you the perfect Eid escapes! Continue reading Eid Escapes from the Middle East in under 5 hours
One of the things that excited me most about moving to Qatar was the travel opportunities it would afford us! By living in Qatar a whole new world of holiday destinations from Doha opened up to us! Long haul was now short haul and vice versa! In the three and a half years we have been living here we have been using every opportunity we could to try new holiday destinations from Doha. So here is Qatar’s Travel menu from short haul to long haul options and the most memorable travel opportunity we had! Continue reading Holiday Destinations from Doha aka Qatar’s Travel menu
Ahead of our trip, one of our greatest concerns was having the appropriate clothing. Those of you that have read my earlier posts, know that as we arrived in Uganda, we lost one of our pieces of luggage. Through this experience though I feel I have learnt a valuable lesson about what clothes are needed for this type of trip, especially if you have limited baggage.
While it is nice to be bright, neutral colours are recommended for trekking and safaris in Africa. Khaki is the colour-du-jour in countries such as Rwanda and Uganda. It is important to remember that blue and black can attract insects, including the dreaded tsete fly and should be avoided. We didn’t actually find this out until after we left.
We read a lot on the subject of clothing for gorilla and chimp trekking before we went, and most advised collared shirts as an essential. This isn’t something that I had for hiking before so I went out and bought a few. These were obviously in the case that didn’t arrive and I have to say I didn’t miss them one bit! Layering is one of the most important things while trekking. It is hot at the bottom, and you get hot when you are walking but as you get higher and for the hour you are with the gorillas it can get cold so layers are essential. I personally find that collars and layering while hiking, is not the most comfortable thing. Therefore I would recommend long sleeve, high neck cotton tops. This provides adequate coverage of areas that are at risk of getting scratched etc, the cotton is both cool and warming and it is easy to put extra layers over. Lightweight fleeces are the best layer, they are light to carry and comfortable to wear. We were very lucky when we were there and never had the need for a waterproof, but it was essential to have one just in case. It also works well as an extra layer if you are cold.
This is something of a personal choice. My husband wore his hat for every trek we did. Personally I found hats bothersome and only used on a bird watching swamp walk, which was far more out in the open.
HIKING BOOTS AND SOCKS
Hiking boots and socks are an essential. However one thing to stress is make sure you get long enough socks. The terrain can be exceptionally muddy and at one point both my husband and I ended up in a river so make sure your socks can tuck in your trousers before you go!
These were the only type of trousers we used and were essential for the same reasons given above. I would personally recommend the zippable version as you can then take the dirty bottoms off when you are back in the car at the end of your trek.
Not really necessary to have your own– most lodges carry these. Check before you go but I wouldn’t bother carrying your own with you
These are perhaps the most important thing to carry with you depending on how far up the mountain the gorillas are. At the top, you will be going through thicket and may need to move prickly plants aside as you continue your trek. The best type of gloves for this are gardening gloves but I would say a good second option would be goalkeeping gloves. Anything thinner and woolen wouldn’t really do the job if the terrain gets tough.
Before our trip we were told that laundry wouldn’t be available. This actually wasn’t true but I imagine you are told as not to rely on it. We had no choice but to rely on it because of our lost luggage but I would say to anyone going, double check whether this is an option for you. If it is, it means you need to pack far less. The laundry for us worked well and dried very quickly but consider the time of year you are going. The lodges we stayed at hand washed our clothes and were dried naturally. At certain times of the year, the climate can be very humid and therefore drying can take a long time. Make sure you pack enough to cope with the drying times but really we found no need to over pack or have a different set of clothes for each day.
What I ended up using:
- Hiking boots
- 5 pairs of hiking socks
- 2 pairs of waterproof trousers
- 3 long sleeve high neck cotton tops
- 1 lightweight fleece
- 1 waterproof jacket
Have you been gorilla or chimp trekking? What are your tips on what to wear?
For most people, trekking to see gorillas and chimps in Uganda is a once in a lifetime experience and you want to come home with a plethora of memorable shots to show your family and friends. But what is the best way of getting these snaps?
Kigale Rwanda is not on many people’s bucket lists. The only reason we went was as a convenient end point to our Ugandan/Rwandan safari. When putting together our itinerary, we decided to stay at the infamous Milles des Collines hotel (of Hotel Rwanda fame), now a Kempinski hotel.
In a way the choice, or lack there of, of suitable hotels led to us staying here is a great symbol of my apprehension of going to Rwanda. You see outside of the Rwandan genocide, I knew nothing about the capital city of Rwanda. A look in the tourist guides provided little other information about the city away from its genocide.
As we arrived late in the evening, I looked towards our next day in the city with some apprehension.
Kigale Genocide Memorial Centre
Our main stop, as I think is the case with many tourists was the Kigale Genocide Memorial Centre. The centre has beautiful grounds that serves as a cemetery for over 250,000 people who died in the Capital during the Genocide. The scale of this memorial only serves to emphasis the extent of the atrocity. Inside, the centre is given over to explaining how the genocide came to pass, historical context and how the international community did little to prevent or intervene. A shameful blemish on reputation on the rest of the international community.
It was without a doubt the most upsetting place I have ever been. The sheer scale coupled with the stories of survivors had me in tears. The stories of children caught up in the Genocide were the most harrowing. There were some stories of heros that risked their lives for others that were uplifting and a welcome relief but not enough to counter the effects. Though uncomfortable, I am really happy that we visited the Memorial,.
Once we had left the genocide memorial we went to an artisan craft market. It was only once we had left the genocide memorial that you began to notice the ages of the people in capital, the missing generation and notice the literal scars on the residents of Kigali.
Despite this, I came away from Kigali with a feeling of hope. It is remarkable that the city doesn’t have more problems. There is not an ongoing quest for retribution. Instead, I saw a city rising from the ashes and trying to move towards a better future. Initiatives by the Kigali City Council such as once a month mandatory street cleaning for all residents, make it feel like a city of the rise. It was one of the cleanest places I have been, and I don’t just mean in Africa. More recently it has embraced the no car days to encourage exercise and community gathering. It feels like a city looking towards a different and better future.
Our lasting impression of Kigali Rwanda
In the end I was glad that I went to Kigali and the Genocide Memorial. But most of all, I was glad I stayed at the Milles des Collines. It was here, where Paul Rusesabagina let over 1000 people take refuge, that I had time to reflect on Kigali and my short time there. It reminded me that there are always people, however few that will put there lives at risk for the sake of others.
My hopes for Kigali in the future is that they can diversify and create a country that is defined by more than just its Genocide and its springing off point to see gorillas.