The DG of the IMF made a 4-day visit to the land of a Thousand Hills to inquire about the socio-economic progress made after the genocide. Arriving in Kigali on January 25, 2015, after having visited the country, Christine Lagarde visited the mountain gorillas, unique species in the world in the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda. Lagarde returned satisfied with Rwanda’s achievements. “What struck me most about Rwanda was the country’s relentless effort to make growth more inclusive.”
Christine Lagarde did not want to leave the country without giving herself the chance to discover these unique primates in the mode that we find only in this park these volcanoes shared by Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC.
This famous park is a reserve of high altitude flora and fauna. The crater lakes at the top of the volcanoes make this place unique, already visited by the great men of the world like President of Microsoft, the American billionaire Bill Gates, etc.
The Journey from Kigali to the Volcanoes National Park
Very early in the morning, Christine Lagarde set off for a 3-hour journey on a carefully paved road, winding through rocky mountains covered in thick vegetation and bathed in heavy fog, crossing bridges over rivers.
Although she had previously taken memorable trips to various alluring destinations around the world, this time around she was about to be swept up in an emotional experience she had never had in her entire life.
When we arrive at the foot of the volcanoes, we leave the vehicles to begin an ascent of more than 4 hours to reach the Parc des Volcans. The passage is in the middle of a bamboo forest where mountain gorillas reveled in bamboo embryos. Lagarde had now found herself at the top of the chain of volcanoes which rises 15,000 feet along the northern border of Rwanda, diagonally overlooking the DRC and Uganda.
Prosper Uwingeli, chief ranger and tour guide, watched intently as she breathed deeply, enjoying the cool air from the volcanoes. “No doubt this natural fresh air without any trace of pollution is the best she has ever liked to breathe”.
Suddenly the primates arrived, says Uwingeli, “She was overcome with strong emotions…like all visitors. You cannot keep the same mood when you see the mountain gorillas”.
Lagarde was even luckier that day because she got to see the Sabyinyo family, a very well-organized and rapidly multiplying family of gorillas. Sabyinyo is an easily accessible group led by the mighty Guhonda, with his biggest silverback of all 10 groups.
In 2006, at the annual “Kwitizina” ceremony, which involved naming babies from gorillas, Bill Gates couldn’t look past the Sabyinyo group, and named the baby Keza, meaning cute.
Before she finished the tour, around 60 tourists, many from France and Singapore, wanted to have their picture taken with the world’s most influential economist.
After the visit to the gorillas and the beautiful landscapes, Lagarde received a certificate of merit, as a sign of accomplishment but also to encourage her to campaign for the protection of the mountain gorillas, an endangered species. According to Uwingeli, Lagarde is already attached to Rwanda, and hopes that her testimony will bring more tourists.
Lagarde then went to visit the ecological housing in the area, built in traditional materials, some of which do not even hesitate to speak of “nature meets beauty”.
One of them ; the “Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge”, was built by a local cooperative in order to promote tourism and develop the surrounding community of the park.
The hotel’s nine rooms, each costing US$1,200 a night, are still fully booked until the end of the year.
Lagarde enjoyed lunch at Virunga Logde, where tourists come to experience the traditional lifestyle of local communities.
The hotel offers a superb panoramic view of Lake Burera as well as the twin lakes of Ruhondo, with traditional canoes and fresh air. An exceptional favorite spot.
She did not want to leave without tasting a bit of the ordinary Rwandan lifestyle. She thus visited the potato growers at the foot of the volcanoes. She even tried to use traditional farming tools for the first time. During her stay in Rwanda, she will never forget the beautiful fauna and flora.