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Rwanda: Gisakura tea plantations

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Gisakura tea plantations | Rwanda | Africa

[Visited: February 2013]

It had been a long busride from Kigali, and while the bus was driving through Nyungwe National Park, I was getting eager, and increasingly impatient, to get out. I had not made a reservation in the guesthouse, and when I finally saw the bus drive away at the Gisakura office, I was not sure I had made the right decision. Fortunately, it turned out that I could arrange my tracking here, and that the guesthouse still had a room and was right next door: I was organized in a short time. Desperate to get out, and severely limited by the fact that it is not allowed to hike alone, I decided to walk the road back to the Nyungwe Park - Gisakura lies just outside the border.

Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Trail cut through one of the tea plantations near Gisakura

Walking up the hill, heading south, I soon came to a kind of ridge from where I had wide views on both sides of the road. Rolling hills covered by bright green colour, with trails cut through the tea plants in more or less straight lines to enable the pickers to collect the leaves. In the distance, I saw mountains and the rainforest; after all, the entire area was once covered in rainforest, but men have cut the trees and introduced tea plants, ideal at the altitude of around 2,000m. I regularly sneaked into the plantations themselves, to get a better view, and was warned once by a woman telling me to be careful of the many snakes. It was very quiet, only later did I realize it was a Sunday, so the plantations were empty.

Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Tea plantation near Gisakura with two parallel trails

When I reached the bottom of a valley, and the entrance of Nyungwe Park, I decided to turn around, because the sunlight started to come through the clouds, making the green of the plantations stand out even better. When I reached the ridge again, I could see the sun on my left hand side coming through openings in the cloud cover, making for a beautiful light shed on the landscape. I saw many ridges parallel to the one I was walking on, with vegetation on top, making for a nice line-up. The sun was going down as I walked back towards the guesthouse I was staying in, and the light got better all the time, so I waited until it was gone behind the clouds in the distance. It was only the next day, when I came back to the tea plantations, that I saw people working hard: with a handwoven basket on their back, they were under full sunlight from dawn to dusk, picking tea and collecting it in their basket. They would get paid by the kilo. Despite the hard work, they greeted me while they continued their hard job. I could only wonder if they still appreciated the beauty of the landscape surrounding them.

Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Late afternoon sunlight cast through holes in the clouds over the landscape near Gisakura
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Landscape of tea plantation near Gisakura
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Tea plantations with trees and mountains in the background
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Mountains covered with vegetation in the landscape near Gisakura
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): One of the many tea plantations near Gisakura
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Tea plantation near Gisakura covered by a grey sky
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Tall trees surrounding a tea plantation near the entrance to Nyungwe National Park
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Trail leading up a hill covered by tea plantation near Gisakura
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Late afternoon light silhouetting trees over a tea plantation
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): The tea plantations have been cut out off the rainforest
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Tea plantations surrounding a patch of trees and a house
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Track running next to a tea plantation
Picture of Gisakura tea plantations (Rwanda): Picking tea at one of the many plantations around Gisakura

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