The following content is comprised of personal opinions, and in no way reflects the opinions of the Peace Corps or the U.S. Government.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Next Big Adventure

As I tap this out on my phone, I'm just starting a 6 and a half hour
bus ride from Kigali to Kamembe, a town in the south-west o Rwandan,
clear on the other side of the Nyungwe Rain Forest. Between my legs is
12 pounds of gear, including a tent, sleeping bag, 2 changes of
clothes, some emergency medical supplies, and a camera. In my lap sits
a thick piece of map with a rough map and a thin orange line drawn on
it. Can you see where this is going? That's right; Pack.It.Up
Adventures is returning to its roots.

Tomorrow, I will set out from the Peace Corps Regional House in
Kamembe, Rusizi with two other Peace Corps Volunteers. Over the course
of the next 10 days, we will hike the 247 kilometer (141 mile) Congo
Nile Trail. This trail will take us up the Eastern shore of Lake Kivu
(in Western Rwanda), spanning 5 of Rwanda's 26 Districts and touching
borders with Burundi, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and
Uganda. Rwanda is the land of 1000 hills, and we'll certainly
understand that after this adventure. Not only will we have the
typical Rwandan hills, but the CNT is established specifically to
follow the watershed between the Congo River and the Nile River. If
you remember your geography, you'll know what a watershed will do to
your elevation gains.

We carry no food. We carry no GPS units, compasses. The trail is not
blazed. Essentially all we have to navigate by is our crude map I
printed yesterday with the hand-drawn line and a list of villages we
*should* go through. On top of that, we'll be totally dependent on
local villages and villagers for directions and a place to get some
grub. These people will not speak English.

This will not be easy. We need to average a decent 14 miles per day.
Elevation change per day will be near 1000 meters. We'll have to
navigate in a foreign language, camp among people who do not
understand the idea of walking for anything other than necessity, nor
sleeping beneath a piece of fabric. We will literally be the only 3
white people in a sea of Rwandans. Kids will stare, children will
follow, old woman will spit-fire Kinyarwanda to us, the poor and lame
will beg for money. This will be like any other hiking experience in
the world.

I leave you now for the next big adventure.


  1. Hi Shawn it's Abby we just read your blog we love and miss you. Be safe and have fun! See you in July!

  2. Hmm, slightly dramatic, but I like it.