Lance Richardson travelled to Rwanda with Bench Africa to experience an intimate encounter with Rwanda’s mountain gorillas.
Here's his story...
Afrika, my driver-guide, lets out a staccato laugh and shakes his head beneath a straw hat. “There are hills everywhere in Rwanda,” he says, miming a curve with one hand. “Even in your bedroom, you find hills!
From our truck we see Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, giving way to groves of eucalyptus trees imported from Australia to slow erosion. Fields of maize and potatoes are terraced down the hillsides. Everything is so tidy it has the sheen of a dream world, thanks to a law that compels all Rwandans to clean their country on the last Saturday of every month. Children wave from the sides of the road, shouting “Muraho!” (hello). Women hold up umbrellas against the sun. Men steer bicycles laden with jerry cans of water. Soon my ears pop; it seems we’re ascending into the clouds.
Our destination is far north-west Rwanda, where an imposing chain of volcanoes, the Virunga Massif, sprawls across 450 square kilometres over the borders of three countries: Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). Rwanda’s section of the massif is called Volcanoes National Park. Afrika points through the windscreen, indicating dark peaks looming in the distance, and incants the magic words I’ve been waiting to hear since we left the airport: “That’s where the gorillas are.”
Lance Richardson is a writer, journalist and editor born and raised in Sydney, Australia and currently living in New York.