A transfer to Cyangugu was indeed a blessing in disguise. I am the adventurous type and for long, visiting Cyangugu had lingered on my mind.
I couldn’t help but keep imaginary clips of Nyungwe forest somewhere within my mind. I pictured golden monkeys, chimpanzees crossing the road and at times people mining gold in the middle of Nyungwe National park.
Imaginations having taken the best of me, setting off to Cyangugu indeed, was a dream come true. As the minibus hit the road, I contemplated on my new discover journey.
The tall eucalyptus trees give a magnificent view enroute Kigali to Gitarama. For moments, I get caught up in the beauty of the magnificent trees and almost forget the sharp turns and twists on the road. Even though I had been to Gitarama before, I have never gotten used to the nauseating winding roads. The corners on the new tarmac road intensified.
“Can we switch seats,” my immediate neightbor, an elderly man begged. His explanations forced me to give-up my favourite window seat.
“I feel like puking, so please……,” he said.
In an instant, more passengers on board had retrieved their waste bags and were car sick. Others were sleeping while the rest were chatting and merry making on the bus.
“The many turns and twists, make many passengers end up vomiting,” explains one teenage boy on board.
We arrive at a road sign that read, “Nyanza.” The same teenage boy excitedly points to the museum, a few meters away from the road.
“That’s where everything about our ancient kings is,” he explains.
In an instant, the bus stops before a shop in a small house for refreshment. This is the stopping point for all busses heading to Cyangugu.
The congestion inside the building makes it look even smaller. At the counter, people fight to pay for their orders. Most of them purchase milk in big quantity. I soon learnt that this Nyanza confectionary supplies milk to most restaurants across Cyangugu.
I went on to search for toilets, and I am shocked to learn that the toilet was in a hidden apartment inside the restaurant.
Before curiosity got the best of me, a woman calls out. “Young lady, food is here. Come and enjoy Bugali and the tasty Brochette,” she says.
Since Nyanza is the only stopping point towards Cyangugu, people take the chance to get full meals. The place is famous for good Bugari (cassava flour meal).
The feverent hooting from the bus driver reminds us that it was time to proceed with the journey. Back in my seat, I can’t wait to reach Nyungwe forest.
“Cyangugu is approximately 295 km from Kigali. We still have a long way to go. We still have to pass through Gikongoro and then to Nyungwe,”Adolph Karasira, a Cyangugu resident says.
Finally, the big “Welcome to Nyungwe National Park,” poster comes into view.
The weather suddenly changed from hot to cold. Rainy dark clouds gathered at 2:00 pm and covered the skies.
As the mini bus roared through thick tropical trees, it began raining. “At this very spot, it rains on a daily basis, this is the centre of rainfall in Rwanda, perhaps,” explains Karasira.
It was freezing cold! The mist on top of the trees made the forest ghostly. This reminded me of my childhood days; we used to say, that the devil was cooking every time we saw mist.
The road through Nyungwe forest was sharper. Some trees in the forest had no leaves at all, a sharp contrast to the numerous varieties of flowers on the ground.
A scary view of landslides that had fallen into the road makes me wonder if the next rock wouldn’t crash us to death. The huge, extremely lengthy rocks stand high above road edges. On them were trees growing and kissing the clouds. Pushing my fears to the back of my mind I focused on the remaining journey.
“Oh a golden monkey!” I exclaimed. The little monkey, sat in the middle of the road, almost unbothered that a bus was approaching! It only left when the bus was almost approaching.
I am told that golden monkeys are so stubborn. They love adventure and identifying with people.
The bus starts slowing down as we approach a very deep and trees-filled valley. Kuwinka is the name of this spot. It’s approximately seven meters high while driving out of this abyss.
“This is the most deadly spot. Drivers are most careful when passing here,” says a woman.
Passengers narrate a story of a family, whose car over turned at Kuwinka; it rolled several times but landed just like a plane.
“The family was not hurt, they spent days climbing to the top. This place has spiritual powers!” said Karasira.
For two hours, we travelled through Nyungwe forest. I finally also saw where the actual source of the Nile.
Tea plantations summarise the forest, before we safely arrive two hours later, at Kamembe a place where multiple cultures from Eastern Congo and Rwanda mix.