To Orwell Today,

Dear Jackie,

I am currently undertaking a phd at Lincoln Univeristy, New Zealand. I am a landscape architect, and my thesis is looking at post-genocidal memorial landscapes, with my two case study locations being Cambodia and Rwanda. I plan to spend most of my time at the Kigali Memorial Centre in Rwanda.

I am currently trying to organise my research trip to Kigali in Jan/Feb 2008 and am finding it very difficult to organise the logistics of it all - accommodation, contacts, transport, distances etc.

I was hoping that you may be able to provide me with some information about how you went about organising your trip. I have been in contact with World Vision NZ, and they are trying to help me, but as yet I still have no contacts.

Any information you could help me with would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance for your help.

Kind regards,
Shannon Davis

Greetings Shannon,

For both my trips to Rwanda I used a travel agent to arrange the flights because she's the expert and I wanted the most economic but also the most reliable. Both times I flew AIR CANADA to London and then ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES to Kigali and the service could not have been better (amazed as I was both times).

During my second visit I discovered COZY COZY GUEST HOUSE and I recommend that you stay there because of the comfort, hospitality and central location to everything, especially the KIGALI MEMORIAL CENTER where, as you say, you will be spending much of your time.

One of the things I enjoyed most at Cozy Guest House (besides the helpful staff who became my friends) was meeting the other guests every morning at breakfast which was served on that dining room table you see pictured. They were a varied group - from Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia - and we had great conversations about our mutual knowledge - and discovery - of Rwanda and also about each other's countries.

Transportation is no problem as there are many choices, all of which you can arrange there. When in Kigali I walked or took taxis and buses but when travelling around the country I hired a driver and mini-van - at a cost of under $150/day. But you could also use public transportation to travel from city to city, or from memorial site to memorial site, in particular MURAMBI MASSACRE MEMORIAL and NYAMATA GENOCIDE CHURCH and if you can travel that far BISESERO HILL OF SORROW.

If you plan to visit RWANDA'S RARE GORILLAS I suggest you go to the Tourist Office in Kigali when you first get there and book your ticket and perhaps join a tour group going - in which case you'll be picked up at your hotel/motel very early in the morning to get to the volcanoes up north near Ruhengeri for 10am to begin your climb. That applies also if you are planning to go visit the giraffes, zebras, hippos and the elephant Mutware and the baboons at Akagera National Park.

I hope that helps with basic planning of your trip to the lovely Land of a Thousand Hills but if you have any further questions please don't hesitate to ask (and give greetings from me to all at Cozy when you get there).

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - They have "kiwi" fruit in Rwanda

Dear Jackie -

Thanks so much for the information - Just one other question, did you need a special 'research' visa, or go in as a tourist?

Thanks again,

Dear Shannon,

Because I'm Canadian I didn't need a visa to get into Rwanda - just a valid passport which they stamped upon arrival:

Visa Rwanda

But with you being from "down under" in New Zealand - which I don't think is on the "no visa required" list - you'll need to contact your Rwandan embassy there and apply for a visa by filling out the form and paying the fee (probably around $35-$50). I'm pretty sure a tourist visa is all you'll need, even though you're also doing research.

Feel free anytime if you have more questions.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - Don't take any plastic bags into Rwanda (not that you would) because unlike here in Canada they've banned them (and I wish we would too)

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~
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