Farmland and Forest

So this is the last account from Rwanda. I came back from Nyungwe Forest on Wednesday and I had a such a great time there. What a relive for the eyes to see a beautiful landscape of trees and lakes without disruption of farmland. Rwanda is not for nothing called the land of thousand hills but basically all of them are converted to farmland. Each family has its little patch so in the beginning, when you get here it looks great to see these different colors everywhere. But after a while you realize that there is basically no untouched area. The national parks, in the North it’s the Volcano National Park with the gorillas, Akagera Park in the East and Nyungwe Forrest in the Southwest have shrunk greatly in the last years. The current government supports Rwandans coming back from former refugee camps in Uganda, Congo and Tanzania. And land from the National Parks has been given to repatriates to try to feed everyone. But still, especially the rural areas are very poor and people struggle to survive. Farming is done without machines, most people don’t even have a a bull or cow to pull the plough. Rwanda has the size of Hesse and 9 Million inhabitants, with 1 Million living in Kigali. So, it’s not surprising that the streets are crowded with people. Not only on the road with cars, buses and motorbikes but walking. So many people…But they are all very friendly and helpful and the kids are funny. Near Nyungwe Forest, when they saw me taking pictures of tea fields (lush green and beautiful) they got so excited and wanted to be photographed as well. Some of them really made a show of it:)

The forest itself was great. It was not as wet as I thought a rainforest would be, but then the rain season only started and for hiking it was definitely better this way. I went on a chimp trek but unfortunately the chimps had decided to go down the hill deep into the forest after waking up instead of taking a walk on the trail (the two extremes concerning the likelihood of actually seeing chimps on a trek. But it was great to watch hand sized butterflies and huge spider webs, fortunately without the spiders though.  So after all, a very good trip.

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