R W A N D A, north to south on a push bike

Guys, I am lost for words! This little adventure was simply magic…

The plan was:

– Do not do a surf trip (for once!)

– Meet my sister in Kigali, get a basic push bike and…

– Start pedaling! We would have 5 days to go the entire length of the country, from north to south, along the Congo Nile Trail (it’s a pretty small country!)

What actually happened:

Well, exactly that! And it was possibly the best trip I have ever done. I know, unbelievable considering there was no surf… but Rwandans are simply the most caring and honest citizens of the this planet, I honestly believe, and humanity trumps surfing any day!

I do tend to get a little enthusiastic when I first get back from a new country, but when I tell you that on the second day I counted 48 villagers running down from the hills around me to help find my camera which fell off my bike along the way, I realize I don’t actually think I’m exaggerating this time! After looking for the camera for two hours, I had to try to convince them to give up as I had to keep riding. 7 hours later, an SMS: the villagers had found it! Another local overhearing our conversation took no time to jump on a scooter at dusk and drive 5 hours to retrieve it for me. She got back at midnight with the camera, as well as all the cash that was still in the camera bag!

Rwanda definitely deserves its title of the Country of a Thousands Hills, which made the cycling a little physical: we climbed up to 6 hours a day, mostly with views of Lake Kivu and the Republic of Congo across it! Another interesting point that blew my mind about this country: somehow, rubbish does not exist. There is simply none. Anywhere. It is in fact illegal to come through customs with plastic bags!

The history of Rwanda is obviously extremely unusual and incredibly sad to say the least; the way it’s population has recovered from its dark past is hard to comprehend. It almost seems to be a miracle. I won’t go into it here, but I can recommend an excellent book called “A People Betrayed” by Linda Melvern…

What I will say is this: Go to Rwanda, and ride your bike there. There will be more people cheering you along the way than if you were competing in the Tour de France.

A huge thank you to the whole Kamasa family for…everything, to Ladouce for retrieving my camera and showing me around Kigali, and to my sister Tot for being crazy!

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11 thoughts on “R W A N D A, north to south on a push bike

  1. ENORMOUSSSSSSSSSSSSSS !!!! t ‘es trop fort mon poussin ! merciiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Le 21 janv. 2015 à 10:21, Duck whisperer a écrit :

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  2. Vous êtes géniaux! Merci pour ces instants d’évasion et de découverte!! Comme je vous envie! Bravo!! Et je suis soulagée de voir que Tôt est allée chez le coiffeur… il fallait bien aller au Rwanda pour son RDV hebdomadaire !! ;-)…

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  3. This is beyond amazing. You two are so strong! I was running on a trail today and in my head was visualizing your video all along. I had a great run because of you. Could you please share more info on how you organized this… I’d love to do that as well!!!! Thanks again for sharing such greatness.

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    1. Hi Elley, and thanks a lot for your good words! It was quite inspirational to meet such amazing people along the way. In term of organisation, we really didn’t plan much. We found that we could get bikes (basic ones) in the north so we went their as soon as we got off the plane (4 h bus ride), and pretty much followed the lake (we easily climbed 1500m a day). We had a very basic map which had the main towns so we asked locals along the way our direction… we didn’t find any food along the way so didn’t eat during the day except for one day were we went to an orphanage and they gave us a nice meal. In the evening we stayed in a couple of guest houses ran by the government and they cooked rice/potatoes/bean (very tasty) and eggs & fruit for brekkie ( I usually kept a couple of banana for the day…we would have loved to eat more haha!). We also stayed in a hospital one night (in the staff accommodation area, which was very nice), and once in a hotel as we were in a main town. We carried 2 spare inner tubes and a pump and that about it for tools, and we only had 8kgs of luggage each so it was easy enough to carry.
      So basically, planning is not always essential. You can improvise pretty easily as you go along!
      I hope this help. I would definitely recommend you do it. Rwanda Adventure in Gisenye can help you for the bikes, they are great!

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      1. Thanks for all the info, Ben. You made it sound sooo easy… such an inspiration! I assume you biked from Gisenyi to Kamembe? I visited Rwanda twice in the past two years (I’m from San Francisco California) and stayed at the orphanage you stopped by. I’ve seen bikers like you there but the fact that you took the time to document the amazing details made a huge difference. I too love filming when I travel that’s why I’m so intrigued by yours. Thanks again Ben and until I go back I’ll be visualizing yours in my head, on the trail!

        When you ever have time please check out vimeo and search “elley photography” you’ll find my travel videos.

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  4. Vraiment superbe ton film, mon Ben, bravo et merci ! Que de rencontres de tous âges vous avez fait ! Merci du fond du cœur de nous faire profiter ainsi de votre périple vraiment hors du commun !

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  5. Dear Ben,
    we are planning to do the cnt in may and I would love to see your video, unfortunately it´s not possible in Germany to see it. Do you think you could send it to me per mail? That would be great!!!
    Is it possible to do the ride without beeing super athletic? I´m a little bit afraid of failing…
    Thanks a lot
    Jutta

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    1. Hi Jutta,
      No problem at all, i will upload the video on Vimeo and send you the link. As far as fitness is concerned, if you are unsure, just do half of it, from the top to Kibuye…it is by far the best part as the second half is starting to get paved. You will definitely enjoy it regardless of your fitness, just take your time!
      Feel free to email me if you have any other question.
      Cheers
      ben

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