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I soon discovered the incredible feeling of being truly immersed in Rwanda and its people.
No matter where I went, no matter what I did, in the past few days the only thing I heard was “Mzungu”. “Mzungu" is the Swahili word with which they refer to toursits. I originally thought that mzungu simply meant "white" but then I found out it actually has several meanings, including "dizzy"! The term was first used by natives of East Africa to describe European explorers in the 18th century. They indeed seemed to aimlessly wander around when they first experienced this unknown and exotic land. After three centuries, I must say, the term certainly still applies to me as I cannot help but aimlessly wander around myself.
I definitely look even dizzier when Amon, my lovely Volcanoes Guide, and myself parked in the busiest place in town, the bus station, to walk around and watch life go by; upon catching sight of me the children call out excitedly “Mzungu! Mzungu!”, a man is showing off his turkey trying selling it, busy women sell their fruit and I can see a lady making her way through the chaos carrying an impossibly large load on her head. I take a moment to look around. There is not a single backpacker/tourist with a Lonely Planet in their hand. Precious.
Marta, UK Office
Tracking chimpanzees in their natural habitat, as they swing from the branches in the canopy high above the forest floor is nothing short of exhilarating. The chimps effortlessly cross and scamper through the trees above the gorge, and visitors on the other hand must cross the river using natural bridges in order to keep up with the chimps. So although the walk usually lasts only 2–3 hours, descending the steep gorge and crossing the log bridges over the river requires some agility and fitness.
Chimpanzee tracking is also available in nearby Kalinzu, a forest reserve 30 minutes drive from Kyambura Gorge Lodge where there is a community of about 40 habituated chimpanzees.