Trip report: Rwanda, Africa’s Secret Endemic Bastion (Aug 2008) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Christian Boix.

The flight to Entebbe was amenised by a very intrepid and accommodating SAA pilot who took it upon himself to share the delights of Kilimanjaro’s clear summit. Flying low and a few 1000 ms above it we were treated to magnificent clear and crisp views of Kili’s top. Alpine grasslands dotted with giant Lobelias were distinguishable…and somewhat more alarming the clear “receding hairline” of millenary glaciers melting down as rising global temperatures take their toll. The landing in Entebbe was painless and the connecting flight to Kigali seamless. However, my arrival in Kigali could not have been more troublesome even if it had been pre-arranged. It appeared that despite all enquiries and pre-trip preparations having contacted Rwanda Air, Rwandas High Commission in RSA and our ground agent in Rwanda….a crucial piece of information to access Rwanda had been omitted, the need for an Electronic Visa Application prior to entering the country. As the evening progressed and my entrance into Rwanda remained barred and they were lining me up for immediate repatriation I discovered that this EVA had only been in place for a few weeks….hence no one worldwide (or nationwide) knew about it. Fortunately, Kigali is a small and well connected capital and soon enough our contacts at the Ministry of Environment had the Minister of Home Affairs clearing me out of this mess and heading for a somewhat “comfier” bed for the night. Thanks once again to ORTPN for my midnight rescue….you are my hero!!

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