I was in Africa for 16 days.  We landed in Kigali, Rwanda around 11 PM and our safari drivers took us immediately to our hotel.  It was a beautiful hotel with a 24/7 restaurant and a pool.  As we entered the gate there was an armed security guard and a check-in person and our auto had to be checked and our luggage was checked at the door just like any airport screening.  I must say we never had any fear of traveling in either Rwanda or Tanzania.  The next morning we drove through Kigali towards our destination for viewing the Golden Moneys one day and the Mountain Gorillas for two days.  Rwanda is the cleanest country I have ever been in.

The last day of every month you cannot travel until noon as all residents must stay home and clean the areas around their homes or businesses.  You will NOT see any trash on any street or highway as you will notice in my photos of the people along the roads.  We could not leave our hotel until noon for Tanzania as we left the last day of the month.  Each day the rural people in Rwanda have to go to the local water center to fill about a five gallon yellow plastic can with water for the day.  You mostly see women and children doing this.

The cost to photograph the mountain gorillas is $1,500.00 per hour and we did one hour each of two consecutive days.  They have trackers 24/7 who carry AK 47 rifles protecting the gorillas from poachers.  We had gorilla guides the entire time we were with the gorillas.  Our trip leader gave a donation to the Gorilla Doctors Project and was able to get us in for an hour presentation of how they help injured or sick gorillas.  They showed us a video of them helping a gorilla that unfortunately caught his wrist in a wire trap set for a gazelle.  You can see videos on their website.  Their website is:   http://www.gorilladoctors.org/

Our flight from Rwanda to Tanzania was about 2 hours in a 14 passenger airplane.  As we left the small airport in the middle of The Serengeti our guide spotted a leopard in a tree.  We stayed in four different tent camps for the next 12 days.  Up at 5 AM, breakfast at 5:30 and on the road at 6 AM.  Every morning we saw women cleaning the roads and other areas with brooms.  The girl at the hotel boutique said they are very poor with no jobs and the government pays them to do this each day.  They do not get paid unless they do some work.

Some days we were out 11 hours which was great.  Although one or two vehicles went in early for people who wanted.  Our drivers spoke perfect English and Swahili.  They knew every animal and bird even at great distances.  The driver in my vehicle was actually Lutheran.  When we saw something we wanted a photo of, we just shouted "stop".  The guide stopped and turned off the truck.  We had photo bean bags that stayed in a groove above the windows, so we just jumped up and placed our cameras on the bags and began shooting.

Our last stay at ChemChem in Tanzania we ate outside or under an open building.  This area has no predators.  One night 27 giraffes passed by our area as we ate.  ChemChem even took us to a  school and a Swahili village and we were able to ask questions of the chief and people there.

To the Swahili, their money is cattle.  The more cattle the more money.  Each morning for breakfast they take one cow and let out enough blood to mix with milk which they mix and drink.  The young children do all of the herding all day long.  They mostly eat meat. 

We were even able to enter the hut they live in which is made of mud and cow dung.  They sleep on a rug.  Men on one side of a partition and women and children on the other side.

At the school they stopped classes and we were able to take photos and they even sang a song for us.  The children are all learning English and all adults speak English.  They are totally happy and the love Americans.

One of our Tanzanian drivers said when Americans are coming on a trip over 100 to 150 drivers will apply to drive.  When other countries come about 25 drivers apply to drive.

If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me @ bsillimanphoto@aol.com.