Power cut. Cold shower. No Wi-Fi.

As warm embraces go, Mama Africa might have tried a little harder when welcoming me back to her bosom, particularly after twenty hours of travel, two entirely sleepless flights and a 6am layover from hell in the zombie wasteland ghetto fleapit masquerading as Addis Ababa International Airport. But I am so excited to be here that I smile contentedly and sip the warm beer I am offered. Hello Rwanda, you are as sweet as you are unexpected.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray, or so the saying goes. My quest to traverse the entire African continent from south to north will still go ahead as originally intended, but an emergency return to the UK and unalterable commitment to pre-booked intercontinental flights for the North Korean marathon mean that the itinerary order has had to change. Having completed the first segment of Southern Africa to the Mozambique border but needing to be in Dar es Salaam on April 6, I have decided to reverse the order of the middle and final segments and head northwards from Tanzania after my most random Asian interlude, to the geographical finish line on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. I will then return to Mozambique to complete the missing middle piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

Whilst this new arrangement may make little logistical sense, it has the invaluable attraction of creating a travel vacuum of seventeen days before it requires me to be in Dar es Salaam; a vacuum that can be gleefully filled with destinations that had hitherto been dismissed as unrealistic on this journey. With Burundi currently experiencing machete-inspired lawlessness and a PhD in advanced piracy required for a Somali visa, the list of potential East African candidate countries is soon whittled down to the two eventual winners: the rhyming neighbours of Rwanda and Uganda.

With little time to research my first port of call, there is a rare and very welcome element of travel surprise about my first taste of Rwanda. And what a surprise this gem of a country is. Sprawling spectacularly over enough undulating hills to make Rome seem as flat as a Dutch pancake, Kigali is the most appealing African capital I have encountered. It is modern, it is clean, it is ordered. It feels as safe on the back of a homicidal moto-taxi’s second hand Yamaha as it does walking around its streets after nightfall. Impressively and sensibly rebuilt with the international community’s guilt money following one hundred harrowing days of genocide in 1994, the city rapidly smashes all my preconceptions of bullet-riddled buildings and urban desolation.

If the capital impresses instantly, the rest of the country quickly follows suit. Not only does the bus to Kibuye on Lake Kivu have an actual departure time, a minor African miracle, but it even leaves on the dot. After a quite enchantingly circuitous journey through the lush jungle hills of this tiny landlocked country, we plunge towards the fjord-like shoreline of the lake and its isolated resort town. A short walk from the bus terminal later, I find myself on the spectacular terrace of the region’s only hostel. There is no-one else around as I absorb this incredible view and pause for a second to reflect.

A mere five days into my second leg of this African odyssey, there can be no doubt that I am back in my natural habitat. I wake up every morning to the sound of Japanese, German and Canadian flatulence, as well as my own. The food is so diabolically unappealing that I would currently elevate JD Wetherspoon’s chicken burger and chips to triple Michelin star status. My poor ankles spell the complete works of William Shakespeare in braille, so bumpy with mosquito bites are they. I have not studied chemistry since 1993 but recognise the scent of nostril-stinging ammonia in its purest form in every sanitation facility I visit.

I am in heaven.

For less than the cost of a Starbucks Grande Cappuccino, I have clean, safe accommodation with stunning views over a lake of such pristine and unspoiled beauty that I am unable to contemplate writing until night has fallen. I stare at each island, inlet and spit in turn from my privileged vantage point and pause with each successive silent gasp to truly appreciate my fortune. I genuinely don’t know how to convey this sense of awe. Or maybe I do. It feels great to be back.

£2.80 per night for a room with a view

Oh no, not another stunning sunset…

Gratuitous banana cliché photo

A bored bean counter…

The original banana boat

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