Close by Ruzizi (the most southerly port on the Lake Kivu) inside the thousand hills country, another beautiful star reigns, especially in the bushy mountains of the Nationals park of the Nyungwe. A real treasure nestling over 300 bird species, where among them, a beautiful bird called the Great Blue Turaco, can be found in other African country as Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Twitchers and scientists visiting Rwanda are merely amazed by its psychedelic processions.
Silverback, Susa or Amahoro groups, are common names distinguishing gorillas across the Virungas mountains chain settled in the Central Africa Great Rift. Those indigenous rainforest mountains host some of the last species of Silverback Gorillas on Earth as fews remain alive worldwide. The pride of Rwanda, for those who had an opportunity to discover them, owns 95% of the human's being genes.
Most of the enjoyable regional safaris oftenly done in the Nyungwe Forest or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (South Uganda) combine birdwatching and primates tracking where those both residents are comfortably nestled.
An sleepy animal documentary? Well, It could have been those adventures indeed, but unusually on this day, the stars of the country, blue "bird" even though, has nothing to do inside a rain forest whatsover, as you could guess.
Dear readers, welcome to the newest "Great Blue Bird amid Gorillas" trip report from Africa. This journey will follow the "almost" inaugural's KLM route Kigali-Amsterdam; and of your choice at the end, you can either continue to Paris CDG (Rukundo's destination) or Edinburgh ( hometown of EAS).
This trip report is the first full long haul departing from Kigali, also the 3rd showing Entebbe, the 681th stories about KLM, and the 180426th excercices on Airliner.net
Billboard at the Airport
Skyteam has just equalized at 2-2 with the ogre Star Alliance at Rwanda's capital airport; After spending few months of fierce calculated negotiations, because of this target seems easy on the worldwide game according to the European carrier; locally, it has been acquired with sweat and pain. Indeed from this days both Alliance offer 2 airlines – each - deserving the capital, described as huge step forward to the famous "vision 2020" so important for the 2nd mandate of the newly re-elected president PK.
Following the discussion linked here KLM To Open Kigali, Rwanda Route. (by SN-MD11 May 20 2010 in Civil Aviation), My brother Rukundo and I have been forestall a last trip to our motherland, exclusively for catching the inaugural's return flight of the 1st direct Skyteam route from.
Part of the inbound trip can be found here :http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/179635/
The booking has been made online, starting late june with, as usual, the flexible tickets available first on KLM.com. Knowing that a LHR-EBB can be found from £400, there was no reason to rush for those pricey fares. And as expected, beginning of september, KLM released its cheapest fares, starting at £ 589 from Edinburgh. Due to diverse misfortunes, EAS was unable to book one of those flights and had to divert on an still reasonably fare of £644.
Spotlight on some figures about:
AF – KLM Group:
Kigali Airport in term of image:
1 – PREFLIGHT
As we were watching a local football game at Amahoro stadium, our planned schedule to arrive early has been modified. Nevertherless, once droppred off by a taxi around 8h30, exactly 2h prior departure, numerous waving KLM flags welcomed us. This evening wore an unique special event.
Sorry blurry night shoot of the terminal
One of the bird feathers
Unusual buzzing entrance
1.1 – Kigali Airport
Because it was Sunday (for Christian god's day), or because of the arrival of a long awaited blue airline, all the people present inside, were dressed smartly, reday to give a warm welcome to their new guests, from the almost passengers flying to the airport staff, without forgetting the special guests like the ambassador of Burundi to the KLM's management. After questionning around some journalists, we disenchanted quickly, not unsatisfied to experience a such lively evening, and seeing for the first time KGL so buzzing. It appeared quickly that events were for the inbound flight (KL563) and sadly not for us.
Facing the arrival hall.
Everybody's wearing formal clothes
The welcoming committee
Information screen has not expect all the flights.
Not fully operational FIDS, despite being brand new as it does not display the new KL564.
They are journalists for Rwanda TV
KLM's vip team: any of you guys were here among them?
Tradionnal rwandan dancer chating with good looking KLM agents: they requested to do not published the photo on Facebook: ok that's fine!
1.2 – Check-In
After fews shoots trying to catch up the real atmosphere, time came, sullenly to proceed a new step like the travel document checks. 3 agents welcomed us: 2 enthusiastic rwandans whom knew us, and a more distant and probably the trainer, a mid 50's old Dutch lady. We had a courteaous chat with those guys, while the lady, more professional indeed was busy checking the genuine of our passports in strange black luggage plugged in on the side wall, that none of us seen before travelling here or anywhere. We had to admit that KLM brought expensive and complexe equipments, methods are sharply improving in our jungly airport.
As SkyTeam Silver member one of the guys pointed out the business C/I counters, but prefered to follow Rukundo, on the eco lane as it was quiet.
Despite the AF/KLM's sign backgrounding the counters, all the C/I agents (from TD check to Boarding) dressed up a dark blue jacket over an green lime shirt Rwandair classy uniform, and performed their duties under KLM's colors, thanks to a distinctive pins on the jacket. The same lady of the KGL-KME flight proceed to the C/I, while EAS took one minute only, Rukundo encountered fews complications when requesting a window seat. Even before looking at the system, she felt sorry annoucing a seat was being pre-assignated and was unable to change it whatsoever. We were confused to look like, once again, so picky. In another hand mayor airlines provides nowadays such facilities like OLCI to avoid/reduce disappointment.
After 15 mins forcing the system she gave up for finally handing over travels docs and a flight informations sheet. Seats will not be either together, nor a window for Rukundo.
KLM supervisor performing and trainning Rwandans to a document check
Rukundo solving his seat issue
Some flight facts given to every passengers
1.3 – Lounge
After checking out the immigration formalities, we fancied a wee nibble at the "new" restaurant/lounge, which was occupied at 25%. In a last and old reflex as EAS was Skyteam Elite Plus Gold previously, he shows his less shiny sliver card, but instead of the so awaiting categorical answer no, the agent, explained she needed confirmation from her boss. During our wait, although it was 8H50 pm only, Rukundo noticed our magnificient and original Blue Bird already parked in the apron. Without no hesitation he rushed straight, via the security checks, to the boarding hall. There was no real reason to stay inside the lounge, we wanted to check what was going on the apron. Unfortunately due to the darkness, and the high apron's metallic fences, the show was better quality in our mind than through this window.
Futhermore, because of the huge haste EAS left one of the boarding pass at the lounge, and had to come again. A pleasant news welcomed him back, the hostesses granted a free access to the lounge for the simple reason of he was the first Skyteam cardholder flying from Kigali. That's was the best useless hounorable distinction never received, anyways this gesture was much appreciated!!!
Rukondo was laughting at the unique KGL hectic metal detector which was bipping with noboby passing through and ramdomly with no reason when passengers came through; meanwhile EAS was sipping a refreshing Mutzig, and enjoying a couple of spicy beef meatballs next door.
Joining back my brother, has been made in a deep sullen mood. One could be clearly heard on background traditionnal gospel singings, rhythmic drumming music, and confident official speeching on the lower level certainly.
While us waiting in the departure lounge with few other wazungus, those guys had probably a memorable fun downstairs with, for sure and abundance, some canapés, some Mützigs or SA wines, entertained by our local INTORE as the dancer performing so noisily, the silliest people of the world were inside the so hot and deadly lounge. The turmoil invaded our brains: Never again!!!
Not too crowded lounge
Lounge food offer
A refreshing local beer Mutzig. Waiter will always asked if you prefer drinks cold or hot!
Duty free shops and quiet waiting area (2 pax)
2 – FLIGHTS TO AMS
A verbal announcement was made, for preparing the BP, afterwards 3 ground staffs part of the C/I came with scissors to simply cut out BP of every passengers during 10 mins. It was time to walk to the Aircraft occupying a quarter of the main apron.
Our ride tonight was named "Place de la Concorde", probably a wink to our French president N. Sarkozy historically visiting, earlier this year, the country added to the return of AF/KLM group to Rwanda. Or simple coincidence?
Airbus A330 "Place de la Concorde – Paris"
A wet aircraft after the canon salute
KGL – AMS the 31/10/2010
Airbus A330-203 PH-AOC
SDT: 22h30 (22h25)
STA: 8h15 (10h45)
Duration: 10h45 (13h20)
Seat: 36A and 37A then 36B
Photo © Tim De Groot - AirTeamImages
Photo © Tom Buysse
2.1 – Leg KGL-EBB
When we stepped inside, the senior purser and her assistant kindly greeted us and offered us a selection a newspapers, that we declined due to our deep lack of knowlegde in dutch language or financial matters.
The total of passenger was about 50 in eco and none in business, we could both enjoyed a window seat or a full flat bed in middle row. Due to the fast boarding we had time to met the cabin crew and were explained few fact about the previous flight. One of them speaking a perfectly french was a value added among the KLM staff, he was happy to fly for his first time to Kigali even if could not get off and pay a further visit into the capital.
World Business Class looks very spacious indeed
Some informations before heading to Entebbe
No cover on the headrest and the IFE box reduced the legroom significantly
At 22H20 the purser made the annoucement as the flight was ready to leave the parking area:
"Ladies and gentlemen welcome onboard this KL564, to AMS via EBB, heu no, to this FIRST KL564 flight from Kigali to AMS via EBB". Then follow the safety demonstrations, where a cabin attendant observing EAS, added that cameras and video cameras were not allowed during the taxiing, taking off and landing sequence. However, we've just dismissed them thanks to the blanket provided.
Place de la Concorde started, on time, rolling onto runway 10 for the quick hop to the Uganda stopover.
The service consisted on a choice of orange juice or water, which was enough
Ground staff greeting our departure.
Kigali by night
Inflight service: orange juice or water.
Following a 35 min flight, the descent commenced until a smooth touchdown runway 35 at EBB airport. The plane parked up along the main terminal on jetbridge next to a BA 767.
During our layover, an Ugandan cleaning team tidied up the whole aircraft and sticked up the white KLM eco headrest covers. EAS took this opportunity to ask a KLM hostess more questions about the Economy Extra Comfort: when seen of the website it doesn't look much bigger, but in reality it worths to try especially for the big sizes.
After greeting us, we became sad to see our French-speaking cabin stewart leaving the aircraft, as another team, would operate the leg to AMS.
The Entebbe bound passengers started boarding around 1h am, as this moment, Rukundo knew his compulsory seat move, one of the lady would apparently swaped with him, but his middle seat of midlle row was definitely not enough attractive!!! As the A330 is lays out on 2-4-2 accross, a kind lonely travelling lady could not bother to be seated next to EAS or not, finally, offered him the 36B.
Now there are 2 KLM A330s at Entebbe
A really nice chap before his time off!
Just after embarking passengers: a 100% load factor in Eco
2.2 – Leg EBB-AMS
At the time of 1H40, ( 10 min after our SDT) an annoucement was made concerning a technical's issue, which would be solved firstly within next half an hour. It was at this moment that the pilot came on the intercom to announce that we were to be delayed as the flight was waiting for spare equipment from the platform.
Planed to endurance an only short 1h lay over in Uganda we've enjoyed an extended complimentary 3h stopover with at some moment a total darkness in the aircraft and under really tropical temperature conditions as the A/C has failed to "officially" work according to the cockipt crew. Knowing that a similar KLM's A330 has been grounded few weeks ago here, it was not reconforting. Most of the passengers felt asleep and did not bother the late whatsoever. The cabin crew perfomed several drinks service during this moment.
The light issue copy
The light issue original (approx 25min)
When Kenya Airways started boarding pax to NBO (scheduled at 5H10), "Concorde" finally been pushed back at 3H55, for a lift up at 4H05am.
Finally taxiing to runway 35
Still flying over Uganda, the crew started the meal service, for our first dinner taken at 5h30 am, EAS was served among the first as he resquested a special low sodium meal. Those meal boxes are well designed, and handy, the cover looks fashion and attractive, before eating it was mouthwatering.
After this, it was time for a movie, even if most of the passenegers did not seem to mind about the IFE quality, and more caring about a deep nap. As our respectable member Plane Hunter said in one of his report:
It's not as funky as the systems offered by Emirates or Singapore Airlines, but it still offers a large selection of entertainment options.
here you can compared which meal looks more acceptable.
A regular diner diner: cold pastas tasted awful
Special dinner: a hot meal with tender beef
After dinner, the sunrise occured only 1h30 after, but cabin crews ensured closed window.
Main menu IFE
EAS has trouble sleeping on any red eye flight, especially the trans Atlantic ones . So he tried to close his eyes underneath a blanket, but on a plane it is not possible, he patiently waited with the very hard "who want to be a millionaire", for the wake up time of Rukundo to play the online kind of Tetris game which is entertaining and funny for a while.
Flying over Libya, as always a strange insafe feeling
informations showing we are halfway through
Bread and Butter pudding with custard, including extra calories butter!
Special b/fast: same hot beef and potato, yoghurt was delightful
Leaving Africa, from the Libyan coastline
European landscape: Italian's Alps
Prior commencing our descent to Schiphol, some of the hostesses came trough the passengers continuing their journey, to inform about the connections, she stopped among us and related that instead of the KL1279, the flight to EDI would now be the KL1285, and also strongly advised to visit the transfer desk as soon as inside the terminal. Thanks you for informing that's an important gesture! Thumbsup.
Oscar Charlie circled around Amsterdam Schiphol for around 15min before approaching and landing runway 6 (Anyone who watches the videos therafter can confirm or correct this)..
Used to travel on KLM's overnight flight from Nairobi, which arrived really early, we would have definitely appreciated a daylight landing, unfortunately we did not enjoyed that much a great scenery of AMS downtown, as clouds were part of the journey.
Docked up at gate F7: PH-AOC
On our way out the plane, we asked if it was possible a quick visit to "Place de la concorde" cockpit, but a too fast answer of the cabin crew denied the acces.
[Edited 2010-11-27 02:35:03]