One of the things that still strikes us living in Burundi is the population density. Not that it is anywhere like truly densely populated places like Hong Kong or even New York or Toronto, but there are way more people than it feels like there should be. In a huge city, you expect people everywhere. In a country like Burundi, where there are almost no cities (only Buj is a million and none of the rest is even a fraction of that) It feels like you are always out in the country. You don’t see signs of development, or industry, or really people.
Yet, they are always there. No matter how remote you think you are, if you stop for even a few seconds, kids start to emerge from behind banana plants. People wander down a dirt trail that you think can’t possibly lead anywhere and soon there are 50 people, and you can’t see any sign of what they might be doing there.
The Rocky Mountains in Canada, are pretty much the opposite. Well, it’s the same in that it feels like there are no people there, but the difference is, that there actually isn’t.
Burundi is 27,000 square kilometres, with about 11 million people spread out over most of it. About a million in Bujumbura, the rest kind of everywhere else. So about 370 people per km around the country
Alberta is a province of 660,000 square kilometres with about 4 million people. A third of the population, with 25 times the area. Bearing in mind that over half of the Alberta population is found in Edmonton and Calgary, that leaves pretty much 2 million people for the remaining 559,000 square km. So about 4 people per square km, or 1% of Burundi.
The part of the province I just spent a few days in is the part that drags that number down, way down.
In fact, the mountains here are a region where the following stat is more applicable: There are 84 bears per 1,000 km averaged out over the entire province – with some areas (like where we were ) with triple that amount.
Backcountry camping is almost shocking to the system in terms of getting away from it all.
The gravel parking lot at the trailhead had about 10 cars in it when we got there, but we met most of those people on their way out since we were heading in on a Sunday morning. We saw one lone hiker the entire day Tuesday.
It’s the kind of place where you really are cut off. There is of course no phone service even on the highway. I was thinking on the way back, there could have been a massive 1,000% COVID spike or even a vaccine discovered and we would never have known until we started back down the highway and got some cell service.
Anyway – I guess all of that to say: I had an amazing few days in the remote, unspoiled, rugged, majestic beauty of Alberta with some really good friends.
The three of us went backcountry camping the last time we were home three years ago – same epic time. (Fun Fact: hard to describe a hiking trip like this and NOT use the word ‘epic’).
Anyway – the pictures do a much better job than my rambling words, so here are a few: