8th of March 2013
I have now finally arrived back home in Cape Town. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you so much for organising such a wonderful trip for me. Yes there was no need for me to worry about the Golden Monkey trek as it was a lovely warm up for the Gorilla Trek. I also would like to thank you for helping me with my numerous requests and questions which you did so in such quick time. It was unfortunate that I was unable to take up your kindness regarding the final day of the dance competition but unfortunately I had to work again that Saturday.
My first 9 days in Kigali were spent working with Operation Smile – which is a organisation that puts together a medical team (all volunteers) of about 60 people from all over the world to assist countries to repair Cleft lips & palates in many countries. We were able to operate on 137 patients so the mission was a great success. We usually finish on a Friday but this time there was a complication and some of us were asked to stay and help out on the Saturday – hence my sudden change of plans.
I am hoping to return again next year with Operation Smile as I was so impressed with Rwanda and can’t stop talking about how wonderful it is to all my family and friends. In fact I didn’t want to come home I was so at peace at the Volcanoes National Park. The whole operation at the park is amazing and very organised and I hope that it stays as it is and does not get any more commercial. The fact that one doesn’t have all the mod cons and that there are no shops is to me such a wonderful concept. Too often visitors forget that they don’t have to have everything available all the time so they can take time out to just be and soak in nature.
I think the lodgings that I stayed in have a magnificent opportunity to be successful as it has the great advantage of being so close to the National Park Office. The setting of the gardens and layout are great and I was so impressed with the staff as nothing was too much trouble for them as they were always willing to help in any way. In fact they often offered to do things for me like make a fire and clean my boots. However having said all of this it was disappointing that some of the upkeep of the place was lacking. I did not wish to inform the staff at the time as they were so kind to me and I felt they might think I am ungrateful and hence my noting this to you in the hopes that you are in a position to have the issues resolved.
The toilet seat in the bathroom I used was cracked and didn’t fit the toilet properly, there was no water coming out the cold water tap of the basin and the shower had very little water coming out the shower head as there was a big leak at one of the connections on the pipe which effected the water pressure. Guests – especially those from overseas are not paying exorbitant prices for this accommodation but I think they expect the basics to be functioning.
I was fortunate with the weather at most times which enabled me to take my meals outside on the porch/veranda/stoep. This I thoroughly enjoyed and spent a long time just staring at the view after my meal. I can honestly say that it was not only the Gorillas that made my stay memorable but the country and the people of Rwanda as well. I have no doubt I will come back and I would love to stay at the guest house again. I would like to take this opportunity to say that if at any time the community would like some help in preparing the guest house to obtain more guests I would be more than willing to stay there and help them make this possible. I think they have a wonderful opportunity to gain market share.
It was a pity that we could not meet on my last day but I’m very sure that we will have another opportunity in the future.
Lastly I was so thankful to have met Gaston and had him as my guide for the few days. He was so patient and always on time and again nothing was too much trouble. I was unable to give Gaston a monetary gift to show my appreciation as one of the ladies on the Operation Smile mission was short of money and so I gave her some of my funds which meant I was short of funds at the end of my trip. Please advise me as to how I can send some money to Gaston.
A very big thank you once again Ossy and hope to hear from you soon.
From: Michele Altherr
Subject: Thank you Access Rwanda
To: "accessrwanda safaris" <email@example.com>
I hope this note finds you further down the path of recovery after your motorcycle taxi accident. I also hope that business is well. You and your team definitely run a very professional operation. If you hadn't had such a great on-line presence with friendly and prompt email replies, we probably would have used an American tour operator. However, if we had, I suspect that we wouldn't have experienced a tailor made tour within our budget. Your business model made it "accessible" for us. We wish we could return and climb some of those volcanoes!
I wanted to thank you by finding a website, frequented by Americans, on which I could recommend your business. I found a forum on Trip Advisor and wrote a response to a question about whether they should visit Rwanda. The link and text are below. However, if there is another website you would like me to post to, please let me know.
We wish you, your team and families the very best.
Michele, Michael, and Heather
Los Alamos, NM
Yes - They put your visa money back into the country's infrastructure.
The country really surprises you, if all you think of is the genocide. It has risen from the ashes, so to speak.
There is an excellent road system, no litter, modern capital city, terraced mountainside farms, several national parks, nice people, and safe.
We spent a week there so we could see different types of rainforests and primates. But no trip is complete without visiting a cultural village, the national cultural museum, and the genocide museum; seeing the Intore dancers and drummers; and taking the canopy sky walk.
The country has volcanoes to hike, beautiful birds to see, and lakes and caves to explore.
We used Access Rwanda Safaris to set up our week and they will work within your budget and tailor your itinerary.
They have a great website that gives you an idea of what to see and do in Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. http://www.access-rwanda-safaris.com/
Last Sunday I returned from a 3 week stay in Rwanda.
The first week was organized by Ossy Kabbatende, from Accesrwanda Safaris. Our guide was Gaston; a very nice guy, who did his utmost to make all the things get well (many thanks to you Gaston!!)
All the arrangements he maid, were very much ok en always right on time! ( cheers to you too Ossy!)
The gorilla-trekking was fabulous and also the Golden Monkey trekking and our visit to the former campsite and memorial of Dian Fossey were unforgettable!
What a beautiful and CLEAN Country Rwanda is!!
After our visit to the Virunga’s, we did some site-seeing else were in Rwanda. From Butare we drove to Nyungwe NP and stayed there for 5 nights in the Gisagura Guesthouse.
A very nice place to stay and the staff belongs to most friendly people on this Planet (Many Thanks to you mr Sam Kiruhura)
The beauty of this Forrest is overwhelming! And Wildlife all over the place. The Chimpanzee trekking was another highlight. We saw them so close and they are in behavior so different as the Gorilla’s.
In total we did about 5 trekkings in the Park and they were all unforgettable. (we spotted 7 different species of Primates and it is Birds paradise indeed)
After a visit at Lake Kivu, we drove to the Agagera NP. We stayed there for 4 nights. I did not expect to see so many Wildlife in the Park. I was happily surprised!
Evert, I want to thank you for all the support you gave me to make our visit in Rwanda unforgettable.
I hope Rwanda will be visited by many other guests in the future, because it is a very safe and accesable Country to stay and to travel around.
Many thanks again
From: Ulrich Steinmann
To: Access Rwanda Ltd.
Mr. Ossy Kabbatende
P. O. Box 6025
this is to thank you and your team for the wonderful 10 days in November 2011 that we spent with your guide Gaston Jr. in Uganda and Rwanda and to let future customers of you know what we have experienced in this time.
Ossy Kabbatende the owner and manager of Access Rwanda has lived in Germany for a couple of years and even speaks some German. He is in the tourism industry in eastern Africa since more than 40 years and knows very well what service orientated customers expect. We got to know him personally when he invited us to dinner in Kigali on our last evening.
Instead of one of the tour packages offered by his company, we went for a custom tailored tour with the main goal of seeing mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.
After comparing different offers from European as well as African tour operators it was soon clear that booking via an European agency would make no sense, as all European agencies work hand in hand with local companies anyhow and ask a ridiculous amount of commission for their services.
Due to the efforts Ossy gave from the very first minute in combination with the best offer we stayed with Access Rwanda.
I must confess, at first I had some doubts before transferring our money to a country outside the European jurisdiction, but there is really absolutely nothing to worry about.
Our tour started in Entebbe and ended in Kigali.
(Brussels Airlines from Brussels to Entebbe and Kigali to Brussels for approx. EUR 800 / pax)
Gaston picked us up at the airport to drive us to our hotel even before our tour officially started. The vehicle used for our tour was a Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4, not brand new, but in perfect condition. During the time of our stay we have seen a couple of broken down cars of other tour operators as well as cars with serious safety issues (no profile on the tires at all etc.) Gaston cleaned, fueled and maintained his car every evening after he dropped us at our lodge or hotel.
The whole tour could not have been organized any better and all lodges / hotels booked have been just perfect. In fact they exceeded our expectations by far. Our tour package included all non alcoholic drinks as well as 3 meals of high standard per day.
Gaston also showed quite some flexibility as e. g. one time we spontaneously decided that we would like to visit a local hospital to see some more of the countries than only luxury lodges and national parks, or when we couldn´t get enough after a boat-safari in the Queen Elizabeth Nat. Park and asked for an extra game drive in the park.
All in all I can only highly recommend Access Rwanda Safaris as a tour operator.
I have my doubts that you will find a better one for less money. Of course the price will strongly depend on the lodges / hotels booked, so be careful when comparing different offers.
As a long haul commercial pilot I have been to almost 20 African countries. If you haven´t been to Uganda or Rwanda yet, I would like to mention the following:
Not only that they are by fare the most beautiful African countries I have seen, they are also the safest in my opinion. Not one time in our 10 days we have felt unwell or have been approached by people asking for money. In the last days I was walking around in villages with my 2 full size DSLR cameras without any worries. In Nigeria, Ghana, Congo or even Kenya I do not even dare to wear a watch. The people in these 2 countries are just honest, fair and friendly.
My 2 friends an I already decided to come back in the future.
Here are links to 3 web albums with pictures that I took during our trip:
Our 9 nights tour itineary in short:
- First night in Kampala / 1 x Sheraton Hotel
- Full day chimp. habituation experience (CHEX) in Kibale Nat. Forest. (Uganda) / 2 x Ndali Lodge
- Boat Safari and game drives in Queen Elizabeth Nat. Park (Uganda) / 2 x Mweya Lodge
- Chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura Gorge (Queen Elizabeth Nat. Park) (Uganda) / Mweya Lodge
- Mountain gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrabel Nat. Park. (Uganda) / 2 x Buhoma Lodge
- Mountain gorilla tracking in Volcanos Nat. Park (Rwanda) /1 x Mountain Gorillas View Lodge
- Sightseeing Kigali / 1 x Serena Hotel
Ulrich Steinmann (Pilot – Cargolux Airlines, Luxembourg)
Christoph Sülzen (Pilot – Sun Express Germany, Germany)
Oliver Thorsten Müller (Pilot – Air Berlin, Germany)
Subject: Thanks for the holiday!
Hello Ossy, how are you ?
I am doing very fine! Yesterday morning I arrived back home in The Netherlands. I want to thank you and Gaston for the very nice holiday I had, organized by Access Rwanda! Gaston did an excellent job being a driver and guide, traveling through Rwanda. It all was above my expectations!
It will take some time to update my website with a Rwanda chapter, because I took more than 10000 pictures!
All the three Gorilla trekkings I did were fantastic! Also the two Golding Monkey trekking I did were amazing, I was lucky to make some nice pictures when some of the monkeys climbed down a little bit.
I do not regret the extra days I took in Akagera! It is a beautiful park, the views are amazing! Gaston arranged everything very professional! The birdlife around the lakes is fantastic. I took an extra boat excursion in the morning of my last day in Rwanda.
All the best Ossy, I will let you know when I put the photos on my website.
Best regards, Micha
I just updated my website with the photos from my trip to Rwanda. If you like , you can click on the following links:
To: accessrwandaprimate @ yahoo.com
Thanks for all you did to ensure our Rwandan holiday was great. Gaston was superb, and thanks again for re-arranging the gorilla permits. We had a magical time. I can't tell you how much we appreciate your professionalism and courtesy. If you ever need a reference from former clients, let us know.
Joey and Mickaylla
Subject: Re: Rwanda Tour / 6 days & 5 nights / 2 persons / FB
To: accessrwandaprimate @ yahoo.com
Just a quick email to thank you for a wonderful trip in Rwanda.
We felt very sad to say good bye to Gaston, he took excellent care of us. Always professional, and extremely considerate to our needs at all times. His cheerful personality was a tonic, and it was a pleasure to have him as our guide and to learn so much more about Rwanda and its
lovely people. Please pass on our greatest thanks.
It was lovely to meet you too and to have lunch together, this was a very personal touch, and most
We are already planning our next trip with Access Rwanda, we are unable to wait until next year, so looks like it will be December!
I will confirm in June/July when I go through my usual bidding for leave with British Airways once again!
We are keen to learn more about the volcano trip in the Congo, sounds interesting, but Nyungwe Forest is particularly appealing.
Once again, many thanks and we will most definitely be in touch.
Best Wishes to you and Gaston,
Gina and David
From: Karen Hobbs
Subject: Thank you
Sorry we havenʼt been in touch sooner but work has been busy, it was also Grahams birthday at the weekend so another party!!
Thank you all so much for such a wonderful trip, I canʼt express how much we both enjoyed it, the Gorillas were amazing and Gaston really made the trip for us, he was so knowledgeable and kind. The last minute change to take us to Lake Kivu was perfect, Paradise Mallahide really was paradise for us. Then to finish it all off with that lovely restaurant on our last night, so kind of you to give us those great Tshirt.
I will have no qualms about recommending you in the future, I think you may have already heard from our sister in law Penny regarding a trip next January.
Good luck with the business in the future and thank you again for such a memorable trip.
To: accessrwandaprimate @ yahoo.com
Many thanks to you and your staff for a wonderful holiday in Rwanda. We really enjoyed ourselves and found Rwanda to be a beautiful and friendly country. The gorillas were all that we expected and more.
Our driver was friendly and courteous and helped to make the holiday so memorable. We will not hesitate to recommend your company to our friends and acquaintances.
Jan & Russell Candy
Subject: Kampala Arrangements: VIP Trip
To: accessrwandaprimate @ yahoo.com
Good morning, and I hope this finds you well an enjoying your week.
The arrangements and the stay of our VIP group in Rwanda were wonderful. The Gorilla Lodge was exceptional, the gorilla trekking 'once in a lifetime' memorable … but mostly they enjoyed you and your entire staff's kind services and gracious attention, and the wonderful and vibrant hospitality of Kigali and the lovely people there. It was the favorite of the entire Africa trip (they had been to Senegal, Mali , Liberia etc)!!
thank you again for everything!
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