Various bits and pieces (March 2016)

Mark Rowlatt writes

Wifi Internet
If you’re travelling with a laptop, it’s difficult to find fast speeds in East Africa. Usually, top end hotels come to my rescue whilst nursing an overpriced drink in the bar.
In Kigale, the 4G Square centre on the ground floor of Pension Plaza in the heart of the city, gives a free 30 minute voucher. Doesn’t sound very long, but the speeds are very quick; up to 3mb/sec.
In Musanze, Virungas Hotel has speeds of around 700kb/sec.
Gisenyi has a free ‘4G LTE Center’ internet café, provided by the govt, right next door to the tourist office. Speeds of around 1.5mb/sec.
Rusizi has a couple of places with OK speeds, but they have 1GB per day contracts so, if you’re downloading, the speeds will drop off after that. Hotel Des Chutes being one of them.

If you’re a wet shaver, bring your own. I failed to find anywhere that sold razor blades for shaving, not even Nakumatt! I was told that Rwandans use electric shavers for fear of catching diseases.

New Karongi/Kibuye to Rusizi/Cyangugu Road
This is 99% complete, save a few short sections & work on rockfall protection & culverts. Journey time is now 2.5 hours. Ugusenga seem to have the first coaster going south at 8am (coming from Kigale) & costs RWF2,200.

Rwanda/Tanzania (Rusumo Falls) border & on to Mwanza
Both sides have ‘one stop’ border posts about 2kms apart. On leaving Rwanda, go straight to the Tanzanian side to get stamped out of Rwanda & in to Tanzania. I presume the opposite works for leaving Tanzania. There were no minibuses on the Tanzanian side, so it was car or motorbike to Benako (30m). Took a car for TZS3,000 & then a shared car to Biharamulo for TZS8,000 (2 hours).
Biharamulo to Mwanza can be done by early bus (6am), but I took the later dalla-dalla option which is a minibus to Buseresere for TZS6,000 (2.5hours), then another to Mwanza for TZS7,000 (4 hrs including the ferry ride, TZS400 per foot passenger). Note that about half of the dirt road from Biharamulo to Buseresere is in bad condition, but the road is surfaced all the way to Mwanza from Bwanga, 15mins before Buseresere. The connection in Buseresere was very easy as there was a plethora of coasters & big buses at the bus station & lining the road further into town.

Nyungwe National Park independently
You will need wheels for chimp tracking, as this involves a 4.30am start, but if you want to bird watch or nature walk, it’s perfectly possible to do this cheaply. From Kamembe bus station, you can catch a frequent local, green & white Nyamasheke minibus to the junction 4kms from Gisakura for RWF800, then a RWF500 moto ride (with hard bargaining!) to the village. To get to the trails, the 5 or 6 moto drivers in Gisakura have set prices; RWF5,000 return to the trails near Gisakura & RWF10,000 return to any of the Uwinka trails. The rangers know the drivers & can arrange for them to be ready at around 6am. Don’t forget you have to pay for your ranger’s moto, too.

I found Equity Bank to have the most reliable & plentiful ATMs throughout the country for Mastercard. KCB worked sometimes, but not always.


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