Volcanoes, lakes and golden monkeys

Our first stop in Rwanda is the famous Volcanoes National Park. This is a national park that is part of the Virunga region. The total Virunga region is a mountainous region spanning across Congo, Uganda and Rwanda covered in dense forests. The Rwandan part consists of 5 volcanoes with forests across them. It is a beautiful park where the biggest attraction is visiting the mountain gorilla. 

One thing we noticed in Rwanda, is the roads. The road to Kigali was very good asphalt, and so was the road to Volcanoes NP. It resulted in us making a big mistake. With roads this good compared to Uganda and Kenya, we expected the drivers to be much better as well. We quickly realized that this is not the case, unfortunately. We still had to be very careful on the roads to make sure there were no surprise visitors on our side of the road. 

Speaking of the road, as a result of being colonized by Germany and Belgium in the early and middle 20th century, people in Rwanda drive on the right side of the road. Not something that is strange to us, since in the Netherlands we also drive on the right side of the road. However, since our car is Kenyan, the steering wheel is on the 'wrong' side of the car for these roads. Fortunately, we do not have too many problems because of this. Another remnant of the Belgian colonization, is the fact that the older generation speaks French and hardly any English. A good possibility for Emma to regain her French proficiency and for Jeroen to practice the 4 French words he knows. 

The first day in the Volcanoes region we decide to drive to the so-called twin lakes. These are two lakes that used to be a single lake, but were divided due to a volcano eruption many years ago. There is clearly not a lot of tourism around these lakes, as there were very limited options. We decide to go on a lake boat ride and a walk on the island. This turned out to be quite the let-down. For the price we would have been able to do 5 rounds on lake Bunyonyi. The hike was simply a walk from one side of lake Batutsi to another, without a lot of sightseeing. We saw some birds, but when we asked which one, the so-called guide's response was 'yes, that is a bird'. Before we reached the end of the island we felt wind picking up and said that it would quickly rain. The 'guide's' response: 'Not for another two hours.' 10 minutes later the heavens opened and rain suddenly started pouring. The weather gods probably felt sorry for us. 

After taking shelter for some time, we went on to go to the boat. We were clearly sad when we were about to head back to the car, so the guides decided to make a detour to another island. Here we convinced the guides to also hike on this island, hoping to get at least a little value for our money. 

The next day was the day of our main attraction in the Volcanoes area. We did not need to see the gorillas again, but we wanted to visit the golden monkeys. They are a subspecies of the blue monkeys which can only be found in the Virunga mountain ranges. It was a lot less private than the chimps and the gorillas, but these monkeys were also very worth it. Since they are a lot less human-like than the chimps and gorillas, we initially felt a little bit like we were in between vervet monkeys or colobus monkeys, of which we have many in Kenya. This quickly changed into a lot of enthusiasm. 

They may be more like the monkeys we know from Kenya, but they were amazing. We found ourselves in the bamboo forest, right in the middle of the monkeys. Wherever we looked, there were monkeys hopping from tree to tree or running across the grounds. We quickly realized that our zoom lens was too much, as we couldn't even focus. That is how close they were. We spent a good hour enjoying our time being among these funny animals. Hopefully they thought the same about us. 

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