ROAM - Where Wild Things Roam Magazine

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roam Where Wild Things Roam Magazine

Rwanda's rare mountain gorillas AKAGERA NATIONAL PARK WILD GEAR AND MORE

issue 02 October/November 2018

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Editor's Note How amazing is this world and it's wildlife! I recently spent 8 days exploring Rwanda and trekking with the rare mountain gorillas and I was absolutely blown away. To think these beautiful creatures were tinkering on extinction brought on by human impact. However, due to the hard work and conservation efforts of some extraordinary people, the numbers of gorillas are now on the incline. This issue is packed with all things Rwanda and you will be surprised to find the country offers so much more than just gorilla trekking. Grab those hiking boots as we explore the best trekking and hiking Rwanda has to offer. Known as 'the land of a thousand hills', Rwanda sure does deliver on some incredible climbs. We also test drive some essential outdoor gear from hiking, camping and travelling off the beaten track - we have you covered. I hope you enjoy this issue and continue to be inspired to get out in that wild and roam, even if it is a weekend escape. Pack a bag, grab a friend and go. If you would like to be a part of Where Wild Things Roam or simply have something you want to share, get in touch with us via email at

Kate Webster

"Gorilla trekking is arguably the most poignant and memorable wildlife experience in the world." FOLLOW US /thewildthingsroam @WildThings_Roam /thewildthingsroam

EDITOR IN CHIEF Kate Webster DIGITAL MANAGER Bernardo Meyer PUBLISHER Captured Travel Media ADVERTISING SALES Kate Webster For all advertising and sales please email Copyright by Where Wild Things Roam under Captured Travel Media. All Rights Reserved. NOTICE: While every effort has been made to ensure that all information in this magazine is accurate, no responsibility can be accepted by the publishers for entries supplied by organisations, firms or individuals.


Rwanda's rare residents Kate Webster


It is hard work trekking gorillas, but every aching muscle, bruise, scratch and bump are worth the pain for time with these endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda.


Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda consists of 125 km2 of mountain forest and the six Virunga Volcanoes. The lush forested slopes of the mountains form an appropriately dramatic natural setting for what is arguably the most poignant and memorable wildlife experience in the world: gorilla trekking. The mountain gorillas are the world’s most endangered ape and are found only in small portions of protected afro Montane forests in northwest Rwanda, southwest Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Known as troops, the gorillas live in communities or families of up to 30 individuals. They are led by one dominant, older adult male, known as the silverback because of the band of silver hair down his back, which is otherwise dark fur. Despite the silverback’s impressive shows of physical power, standing upright, throwing things and making aggressive charges as he pounds his huge chest, gorillas are generally calm and non-aggressive unless they are disturbed. Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are tiny, weighing four pounds (two kilograms) and able only to cling to their mothers’ fur. Infant gorillas are just like human children; playful, cheeky and keen to explore. Much of their day is spent playing, climbing trees, chasing one another and swinging from branches. As the morning sun rose and filtered across the mountains, the mist slowly lifted like a curtain to unveil the main performance, the gorillas. A permit with set you back USD$1500, of which the money is put straight back into protection and conservation of the gorillas. It is advisable to hire a porter, not only for the unfailing assistance as you trek and climb, but to help give the once poachers incentive to stay on the antipoaching path.



Beginning the exhilarating climb to the gorillas’ natural habitat starts off easy and you could be mistaken that you are in for a walk in the park. The stroll soon turns into a struggle as the forest thickens and before you know it, you are fighting with the dense undergrowth one foot-strangling step at a time. The battle with the vegetation is worth it. Nothing can prepare you for the impact of emotions encountering a fully-grown silverback gorilla, up to three times the size of an average man, yet remarkably peaceable and tolerant of human visitors. I spent time with the largest gorilla family in the park, the Kwitonda family, which means humbled in Kinyarwanda. To spend the hour with this family was truly humbling.


A mother clutched her new-born baby as its wide eyes darted around exploring her surroundings from the safety of her mother’s arms, before heavily dropping into sleep. Nearby the children of the family played in boisterous bursts and rolling acrobatics. The silverback laid sprawled out, looking relaxed but always aware of everything that was going on. There was a real sense of family, each gorilla with their own personality and place. Leaving the family after the allowed hour was up left me beyond satisfied, exhausted and hopeful for the future of the species. If you want to get involved with the conservation of gorillas in Rwanda, Where Wild Things Roam Travel has a special group departure heading to Rwanda in 2019. Email to find out more and to register your interest. Fly to Rwanda with South African Airways via Johannesburg to Kigali.

"The mountain gorillas are the world’s most endangered ape"




Go wild in Akagera National Park Located in North Eastern Rwanda, at the country’s border with Tanzania, is Akagera National Park. Named after River Kagera, this National Park is dominated by swamps and small lakes that flow in the wake of River Kagera. These water sources create a spectacular backdrop for the rolling hills and is quite a remarkable eco-system. A common view around Rwanda, the mountainous scenery surrounding Akagera National Park is quite simply beautiful. The landscape inside the park ranges from low, wide, plains dominated by grass and cactuslike Euphorbia candelabra shrub to both thick and thin forests amongst rugged terrain that is so characteristic of Rwanda. It is here you can experience the Big 5, and more, in Rwanda. The game drive experience is a scenic one, with wildlife sightings of elephants, rhino, buffalo and antelope species including; elands and topis. There are also Maasai giraffes, monkeys, savanah birds, civets, leopards, hyenas, as well as serval cats. While you can self-drive around the park (staying on the designated roads), it is recommended you hire a guide who is so knowledgeable about the flora and the fauna that is found in the park.




When experiencing any game drive, one should remain in the vehicle unless the park guides advise that it’s safe for you to get out. For the longer game drives, you are advised to take a snack or lunch and plenty of drinking water. Birding in Akagera National Park is popular on land and via a lake boat cruise. It harbours over 520 species of birds which are found in this national park. The birders who visit Akagera National Park are always impressed by what they find. The many bird species that range from water to forest and also savanah as well as the migratory bird species are endemic to the park and are so rare like the papyrus gonolek which is found in the papyrus swamps.

Taking to Lake Ihema by boat is an activity not to be missed. Lake Ihema has got one of the largest concentrations of hippos in East Africa . Water birds can be seen on a boating safari on Lake Ihema as well as a stunning sunset over the lake. Founded in 1934 to protect animals and vegetation, Akagera National Park is the largest protected wetland in Central Africa. The park used to cover over 2,500 sq. km but in 1997, it was reduced in size by close to 50%. Â A lot of the land was reallocated to refugees returning to Rwanda after the civil strife of the genocide. Before 1997, many refugees returning to Rwanda had settled in the area and the conservation area was harmed by poaching and cultivation. In 2009, the Rwanda Development Board and African Parks signed a joint management agreement in which the Akagera Management Company was established to help both bodies manage the park. AMC is therefore responsible for the day to day management of the park.




Entrance fees to the park start from USD$40 per person, per day.

The guides for the self-drive game drives charge USD$40 for the full day game drives. It’s advisable to get a guide while carrying out a game drive since they are always knowledgeable of where the animals are and can give informative talks on the wildlife and the park. For an enjoyable safari experience to Akagera National Park it is suggested you stay in the area or even in the park. Designed and built by the Akagera Management Company, Ruzizi Tented Lodge was opened in 2013. Located on the shores of Lake Ihema, it is a 20-bed tented eco-camp linked together using boardwalks. Its impressive African styled décor matches with the design to blend in with the surrounding environment giving it a very natural habitat feel. It is intimate, accommodating a maximum of 20 guests, but it’s so worth staying here as 100% of profits go towards the budget for management of the park, so your stay is making a contribution to conservation. The peace and quiet create the perfect atmosphere to commune with nature. The original accommodation in the park, Akagera Game Lodge, offers some pretty amazing views of Lake Ihema. The comfortable accommodation is simple but adequate. The property boasts a restaurant, swimming pool, curio bar, tennis court and a few other life comforts. If you are an outdoorsy person, or more adventurous looking to enjoy the African wilderness in all its splendour, then you can opt for the camping sites. Camping information can be gained at the information desk at the entrance gate. For more visit



TREKKING RWANDA Rwanda is known as the ‘land of a thousand hills’, and with that title comes a lot of trekking options.



Due to the country’s mountainous landscape, there are plenty of hikes ranging in difficulty that all feature some of the region’s most epic views. Get out those hiking boots and get ready to hit Rwanda’s many trails. Volcanoes National Park There is more to Volcanoes National Park than the Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys that you can track here. There is also Hiking and Volcano Climbing, the visit to ancient and magical forests, Caves, Lakes and more. The possibilities are endless here for the outdoor enthusiast, it is simply a great place for those that want to do something off of the beaten tourist path. Gorilla Trekking Most people visit Rwanda to trek the rare mountain gorillas. The overall length of your hike to the mountain gorillas is unpredictable depending on how far the gorillas have moved being wild animals. It may take as little as 30 minutes to find your gorilla family and as long as five to seven hours. The forest is verdant, humid and somehow light and there are no discernible trekking paths. The terrain is full of hills and steep volcano slopes where you will be required to pull yourself up steep grades by grasping onto branches, plant roots, bushes and more. You will be with a group no larger than 8 and will have a guide and trackers. It is advised to hire a porter at the park gate, which costs between USD$15 to USD$20 depending on what he is going to carry. A gorilla trekking permit costs USD$1500. Mount Bisoke Volcano Hike This is a very scenic hike taking approximately 4 hours to ascend to the top of this volcano, which has a spectacular crater lake, and then 2 hours descending down to the starting point. Experienced hikers can get to the top of this mountain in a matter of 3 hours or even less and return to the base in about an hour. On the day of hiking, hikers converge at the park headquarters at Kinigi at 7:00 am to attend to a briefing and be assigned a park ranger. The park rangers are usually natives of the Volcanoes national park vicinity and thus very knowledgeable about the mountain adventures. At 8:00am the adventure begins.



Nyungwe National Park Nyungwe National Park is a hiker’s paradise with some 13 hiking trails over 130 kilometres through the forest. Tracks range from easy to difficult, taking just 4 hours up to 3-day long hikes. Chimpanzee Trekking Chimpanzee trekking starts in the morning and takes a good 4 hours and more. The chimps at Nyungwe forest have been and are being habituated, which means that they are used to human beings. Ngabwe Trail This is 4.7 kilometres and takes 3 hours to be completed and is a moderate hike in difficulty. You will find the trail taking you through different vegetation zones even though it’s a short trail. It can also be extended to be 8 hours long and would then include the Kitabi tea plantation. Along the trail, you may sight the colobus monkeys, L’Hoest silver monkeys, chimpanzees as well as the Mangabey. Bigugu Trail This 7km trail is somehow difficult, with steep slippery sections, taking about 6 hours to complete. This trail goes up towards the highest point in the park which is Bigugu peak and is about 2950m in elevation. This is an excellent trail for the birders where one can see the red collared mountain babbler. Igishigishigi Trail Possibly the most popular trail, since it also includes the canopy forest walkway, this hike departs from Uwinka reception area of the park. The trail is about 2.4 km and takes 5 hours to be completed including the canopy walk. You will be up in the tree tops and view the primates, birds, and butterflies in their habitat. This is an amazing hike that you shouldn’t miss. Isumo waterfall Trail Also a popular trail, this hike is 10.6km long and is moderately difficult, taking around 4 hours to complete. First, you go through a tea plantation and then through the patches of forest where you can view many species of monkeys. On the way to the waterfall, you will also move through the tree ferns which require an imposing eye as often you will view the Ruwenzori Turaco bird. This is also one of the exciting trails of Nyungwe Forest, with the waterfall a spectacular reward after a tough hike.



WILD GEAR Trialled and tested, here is some of the latest gear for getting out in the wild and roaming with. Osprey Transporter Wheeled Duffel The Transporter Wheeled Duffel comes in 3 different sized volumes, so you can find the perfect fit for your next adventure. For the bigger trips and heavier gear, you can’t go past the 120L or 90L. For weekend getaways and interstate travel, the 40L fits most carry-on requirements for Australian domestic and international flights, perfect as a stand-alone or complement to larger duffels. Made from 800D TPU-coated nylon for incredible abrasion and water resistance, long-lasting #10 YKK zippers with overlapping flaps to protect your gear from wet weather, the Transporter Wheeled Duffel will take anything you throw at it. Let’s not forget the all important HighRoad™ chassis’s oversized wheels that allow you to roll smoothly over the rough surfaces encountered well outside of the airport terminal. 120L RRP: $349.95 | 90L RRP: $319.95 |40L RRP: $279.95

Salomon OUTline GTX Salomon designers created the OUTline GTX® for the millennial market, bridging the gap between outdoor adventure and casual wear. You won’t be dragging your feet up a mountain in the OUTline GTX®, at just 350 grams these lightweight shoes are the perfect companion to take travelling. The shoe also has 5mm lugs for uncompromising grip and thanks to a full GORE-TEX® membrane, your feet are completely waterproof and protected on any outdoor trail adventure. Some adventures are equal parts connecting with friends, having fun outside, and discovering new places. The OUTline GTX is ideally suited to such adventures, with lightweight and flexibility like a running shoe, but enough grip and protection for any trail. For a hybrid shoe that's as much focused on outdoor adventure as everyday wear, you can’t go past Salomon’s sleek OUTline GTX®. RRP: $249.99



NEMO Galaxi lightweight hiking tent Unlike most tents, the Galaxi tent comes with a coated ripstop nylon footprint to help protect its floor from abrasion and offers an added layer to lock-out mud and protect you from wet surfaces. Built to last and not for landfill, the NEMO Galaxi tent also comes with a repair kit to extend its lifetime, and value for money. RRP: $399.95

Thuraya SatSleeve For those who roam deep into the wilderness and want some comfort of being able to connect if needed, then the next generation of satellite adaptor for your smartphone, Thuraya SatSleeve, is for you. Turn your smartphone into a satellite phone using the Thuraya SatSleeve, allowing for voice calls, SMS, email and app access while you´re off the grid and out of range for your normal phone reception. Use your smartphone when it is connected to the SatSleeve using the SatSleeve +. This SatSleeve model is similar to the previous SatSleeve for iPhone and SatSleeve for Android models, however its universal adaptor fits almost any late model smartphone between 58 and 85 mm in width. RRP: $899.00

Scarpa Mojito Hike GTX The Mojito Hike GTX has strong game and unmistakable style. The upper is made of 1.8 mm water-resistant suede with a monochromatic colour palette, and up-to-the-toe lacing that matches accordingly. The fully adjustable lacing system is derived from a climbing shoe, allowing the Mojito to fit just about any foot shape. The Salix sole is comfortable, assures grip on any terrain, is built with shock absorbing features and is designed to be self cleaning. The Flex-Point is a special upper design that allows the natural angle variation between foot and leg during walking, RRP: $329.95