Destination Kivu Belt

Posts Tagged Activities

1 Day Hiking Mount Muhungwe and Nyamyumba Hot Springs

08/13/2022 8:43

1 Day Hiking Mount Muhungwe and Nyamyumba Hot Springs

1 Day Hiking Mount Muhungwe and Nyamyumba Hot Springs

Activity Description

Spend a full day outdoors around a Rubavu. Hike to the top of Mt. Muhungwe, Rwanda’s tallest non volcanic mountain and relax in the natural springs in Nyamyumba in the afternoon.

In the early morning our guide will pick you at 6:30 am, then we drive to Mahoko a starting point of hiking, the hiking will take 5 to 6 hours to reach the top then after we spend 2 to 3 hours climbing down to the we drive to Nyamyumba Hot spring.

After hiking we will drive to Nyamyumba not spring where you will do hydrotherapy by hot spring and enjoy this natural massage, after exhausting by hiking 2928m of altitude you will enjoy this experience until 3pm. 

About the Organizer

Wildlife conservation travels specialize in eco tours featuring Rwanda’s remarkable nature and wildlife

 

From 190 USD

Highlights

  • Vist Rubavu’s natural hot springs
  • Climb to the peak of Mt. Muhungwe
  • Get a traditional massage

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Categories:Hiking, Tours and Activities

Ibere rya Bigogwe – Half day cow experience

08/2/2022 15:33

Ibere rya Bigogwe – Half day cow experience

Ibere rya Bigogwe – Half day cow experience

Activity Description

The experience starts at the main Rubavu – Musanze Road  where your guide will meet you at the Ibere rya Bigogwe office on the main road. The office is easily located by the arch which marks the border between Rubavu and Nyabihu Districts.

Travel by moto to the farms (by car
if you have your own)

After meeting your guide you will travel to the green pastures of Ibere rya Bigogwe where the cows graze. The same way as locals in the area, you will
travel on the back of a motorbike to the farms. The views of the landscape are breathtaking as you leave the main road behind and travel up the hills. A photo stop is usually made at one of the best view points. The trip takes around 30 minutes. Helmet is provided.

Meet the cows and watch them grazing
Once you reach the farms, your guide will introduce you to the cows and cowboys. You will dress in a colorful shuka or rumbiya, the traditional attire of cattle keepers and get a Inkoni, a stick carried by all cattle keepers. Learn about the history of the green hills of Bigogwe, stories about cows and the traditional Rwandan life connected to cows. The hills at the farms are some of most lush and green hills in Africa. Spend some time with the cows and cowboys in this peaceful setting

Take the cows to drink water
The cows need lots of water. Twice daily they make their way to the river for a drink. Join the cowboys and use your inkoni (stick) and gentle whistles to move the cows down to the river for a drink. Watch the cowboys as the sing and whistle for the cows as they drink.

Milking the cows and tasting of fresh milk
Milking in Bigogwe is done by hands in traditional cans or ibyansi like inkongoro in wood, and Ingare made in bamboo. Get a lesson in milking by hand by the cowboys and try milking on your own. After milking you will taste the special “Bigogwe Cappuccino” as fresh as it gets straight from the cows.

Cowboy games
The cowboys spend their life watching the cows. While the cows graze the cowboys have lots of free time. Many games and traditions have been invented by the cowboys. The most common games are URUKIRAMENDE or high jump, Kunyobanwa or stick fighting and Igisoro, a traditional game played with dried seeds on a wooden board. Watch the cowboys master these games and try on your own.

Traditional songs for the cows
When the cows rest after eating and milking, the cowboys sing to them. These traditional songs are called Kwivugira inka and have been passed on for generations. The songs repeat the names of the cows and include stories from legendary cows.

Making of traditional ghee
Leave the farms by motobike (or car if you have your own). Watch the traditional way women make Ikimuri or ghee by hand. Ikimuri is traditionally made by moving a large calabash or Igisabo back and forth. Learn how it is done and try making your own Ikimuri.

Return to main road and departure
It is time to say goodbye for now. Before you depart you may visit the shop and café where traditional crafts souvenirs and snacks are available. 

About the Organizer

This experience is organized by Alex Ngabo and Ibere rya Bigogwe. Ngabo grew up with cows on the green hills in the area and is passionate to share this wonderful place with as many as possible.

Good to know

Extra info / What to bring

  • Hiking Shoes
  • Sweater & wind/rainproof jacket
  • The sun can be strong bring a hat & sunscreen

This Experience requires that you can walk for 1 km over uneven ground

Add-ons: Pick up and drop of at any hotel in Rubavu or Musanze can be organized at extra fee of 30,000 Rwf

 

From 30,000 RWF

Highlights

  • Spend time on the greenest hills in Rwanda
  • Experience traditional Rwandan life with cows
  • Taste some fresh milk products 
  • Try traditional Rwandan cowboy games

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Categories:Community Tours, Tours and Activities

Six Island Boat Tour in Karongi

04/25/2022 13:05

Six Island Boat Tour in Karongi

Activity Description

Explore the islands of Lake Kivu during a half day guided boat tour in Karongi with a local guide. Lake Kivu is dotted with hundreds of islands. Most islands have their own secrets and special things to see. Start the tour meeting your guide and boarding a boat in Karongi. The tour starts by heading out to Napoleon Island, one of the largest islands outside Karongi. A short hike will take you to the top of the island where you will have a magnificent view of the surrounding area and Karongi. Napoleon Island is  home to a colony of straw colored fruit bats. After visiting Napoleon Island you will continue to Monkey Island. This island got its name from the fact that there is a small group of monkey inhabiting the densely forested island. After seeing the monkeys you will continue to peace island. Peace island is perfect for swimming and has a nice walking path all the way around. After peace Island you will continue to volcano island. This island is to small to go on board but can be seen from the boat. Volcano Island got its name from the fact that it was created by a volcanic eruption. Next is  a short drive to prison island which got its name because it was used as a prison for women who got pregnant outside of marriage in historical times. The last island is farm island. This large island is used for farming by the local community. Watch macadamia nuts, banana beer production and other crops being grown here before returning back to Karongi. 

About the Organizer

Bwishyura Kivu Boat Cooperative is a cooperative of young recent graduates. Their main mission is provide visitors to Karongi with information tours at proffessional rates while supporting themselves and their families.

From 45 USD / Boat

Highlights

  • Visit 6 islands in Lake Kivu
  • Hike to the top of Napoleon
  • See Rwanda’s largest fruit bat colony up close
  • Learn about the local way of life on the islands of Lake Kivu

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Categories:Boat Tours, Tours and Activities

Congo Nile Trail Expedition with Red Rocks

12/10/2021 11:18

Congo Nile Trail Expedition with Red Rocks

Activity Description

This scenic route stretching along the shores of Lake Kivu in western province from Rubavu District to through Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyamasheke to Rusizi Districts. This hike includes many delights such as coffee washing stations and tea plantations and it is a both cycling and hiking adventure that takes place along the shores of lake Kivu and through Nyungwe National park. This trail experience offers guests a chance to challenge your hiking capabilities and cycling abilities as you appreciate the beauty and the unique scenery of Lake Kivu and surrounding hilly countryside of Rwanda.

The Congo Nile Trail delivers one of the most unforgettable experiences in Africa. Hikers, bikers and kayaking enthusiasts will enjoy this network of trails and roads that run from Rubavu in the north of the lake to the town of Rusizi at its southern end.
For 227 km, this stretch of ancient dirt roads and trails twists through jungle and farmland, rows of banana trees and vast coffee plantations as Lake Kivu’s coastline and undisturbed waters lie in the majestic
backdrop. The route continues, past emerald tea plantations, to the divide that separates the Nile and Congo rivers and into the thick of Nyungwe rainforest where 13 species of primates reside. The Congo Nile Trail can be completed in 5 days by bike, 10 days by hike or 8 days by Kayak.
As you are aware Rwanda is incredibly safe, and this trail can easily be completed independently by experienced and confident hikers, kayakers, and bikers. We do recommend you take our local guide in Rubavu, who is an expert birder and a cycling guide with exquisite experience to make your Congo Nile trail a memorable experience.

About the Organizer

Red Rocks Ecotours is all about the community, the wildlife, tourism & travel thus promoting sustainable tourism through community and conservation programs. Our pioneering cultural tourism scheme involves developing our community and promoting our nature preserve through tourism

All community activities and private initiatives offered by Red Rocks work on improving the community with focus on benefitting the quality of life of community people. Our philanthropic work in the rural villages will ensure you are involved in original humanistic traditional communities as well as contribute to the social life development of people.

The cultural exchange campsite offers you an opportunity to be a part of community philanthropic travel with a commitment to conservation and responsible tourism in Rwanda.

Red Rocks Rwanda continues to create long-lasting relationships with the communities in the areas   around the Virunga Massif where we operate by building long lasting relationships with the rural communities and through the work of the Red Rocks initiative identify and sponsor long-term, viable and self-sustaining projects that will have the support of our staff and visitors. The projects that are supported by the initiative are all community collaborative and we work closely with them to determine their needs and improve their well-being.

Come and enjoy the serene beauty of Red Rocks as your stay with us will give you purpose in the most effective way by connecting you with communities and giving you an opportunity of serving others. Embark on an unforgettable philanthropic journey which ensures that we work with people to find life changing solutions to the problems faced throughout the great Virunga massive starting off at Red Rocks where you will Meet individuals from the Community and learn the traditional Rwandan way of life or discover how the local people live in harmony alongside Africa’s majestic mountains.

 

Highlights

  • Hike, bike or kayak the Congo Nile Trail
  • Experience genuine Rwanda off the beaten track
  • Professional Guide 

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Ibere rya Bigogwe

Ibere Rya Bigogwe

Ibere rya Bigogwe is an area with green rolling hills with cows where visitors experience traditional Rwandan life, hike and enjoy the views.

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Birding in Rwanda

05/20/2021 9:14

Birding in Rwanda

Birding in Rwanda

Rwanda is a great and unique birding destination with vastly different habitats and over 30 endemic bird species. It is often overlooked as a birding destination and less known than its more famous safari neighbors Kenya and Tanzania. Between the Albertine Rift Valley, the volcanoes of the north and the western plains, Rwanda bird habitats are many and diverse. Rwanda bird species differ much between the western, southern and eastern parts of the country. Eastern Rwanda is lower and has a drier savannah climate. The Albertine Rift Valley in Western Rwanda’s Kivu Belt Region is dramatic with high mountains and deep valleys and more varied habitats. In the tropical montane rain forests of the Kivu Belt and around Lake Kivu is where you will find most of the endemic Rwanda Bird species. The wet marshes and lakes of South eastern Rwanda offer the possibility for exploration by dugout or boat.  

Download the official Birding in Rwanda Booklet from Visit Rwanda

The small size of Rwanda, good infrastructure and relatively high levels of digitalization with a steady cover of 4g internet, makes it quick and easy to move around. Rwanda is also known as the safest and cleanest countries in Africa with a low level of corruption, further adding to Rwanda’s popularity as a country for birding.

The recently opened Gishwati Mukura National Park in the Kivu Belt is a great addition to Rwanda’s diverse birding sites. Gishwati Mukura is a montane rainforest on the eastern range of the Albertine Rift Valley. The forest which has many of the Albertine endemic Rwanda birds is still very much unexplored territory as it was closed off to the public for a very long time. Improvements in walking paths and other essential infrastructure was not made until as late as 2020 when it reopened to the public.

The best known and one of the classic Rwanda bird spots for Albertine endemics is the elusive Nyungwe Forest. Nyungwe Forest has all the Rwanda Birds which are Albertine Endemics and should be on every birder’s itinerary.  Nyungwe is one of the oldest forests in Africa and has more than 300 recorded bird species and 30 Albertine endemics. 

Rwanda Birding Destinations

Since Rwanda has very diverse bird habitats in a small geographic area, visitors to Rwanda will be able to see many different species in a short amount of time. Most Rwanda bird visitors are surprised at the diversity of birding in Rwanda. The country is very different and ranges from the mountainous terrains and lakes along the Kivu Belt in the west, to the flatter savannah to the east and the marshlands of the south east. 

Akagera National Park

In eastern Rwanda you will find Akagera National Park. Akagera National Park has a traditional Savannah habitat with several larger lakes and swamps. There are more than 480 recorded bird species in the park, making it the most diverse Rwanda bird area. Akagera is a big 5 park which makes it possible to see some of the larger Rwanda bird species here such as the white-headed and griffon vultures. You will also find larger raptors such as bateleur, a range of snake eagles as well as the African harrier hawk. In the wetlands of Akagera you will find the iconic African fish eagle, jacanas and other waders. After a successful conservation project, Akagera is now one of the few places in Africa where you can see the elusive shoe billed stork.

As Akagera National Park is a big 5 park, the only ways to move around inside the park is by car or by  boat on Lake Ihema, the largest lake in the park. Walking and biking can be done outside or on the edge of the park. Accompanying bird guides, renting of bikes or other equipment is organized through the park office. Be aware that there is lot of misleading information about Akagera, mostly from different tour operators posing as the official park website. Akagera is managed by African Parks and for contact information to the park office visit at the official Akagera website.

There are three lodges inside Akagera National Park all of which will give you a close encounter with nature. Many Rwanda bird species can be seen around the lodges in a early morning or afternoon walk or from your tent. Ruzizi Tented Lodge is an intimate retreat located on the edge of Lake Ihema in a nice natural setting. Magashi Camp is a small tented camp in the east of the park which will bring you very close to nature. Karenge Bush Camp is a small low-impact tented eco lodge with only six tents. Just outside the park you will find the more modern but upscale Mantis Akagera Game Lodge and the more rustic but nice Akagera Rhino Lodge. There are also three campsites  for self-camping inside the park which are bound to give you a very close experience.

Birding in Rwanda
Red Necked Frankolin

Birding in  Nyungwe Forest National Park

Probably the best Rwanda bird location is Nyungwe Forest. With over 300 bird species of which 30 species are regional endemics, it is no wonder Nyungwe is the most popular Rwanda bird destination. Nyungwe forest is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International, mainly due to its abundant species and unique habitats. Nyungwe Forest is located in the Kivu Belt Region in southern Rwanda on the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. It is one of the oldest and largest montane rainforests in Africa. Nyungwe Forest is a very diverse rainforest with a range of different habitats. The habitat ranges from Bigugu, the highest peak in the park at just under 3000 meters to the swamps of Kamiranzovu. Apart from birds, Nyungwe is the home to many larger primates, mammals and retiles including chimpanzees.

Nyungwe Forest is one of the few places outside of Democratic Republic of Congo with a resident population of Albertine Owlet. The vulnerable Rockafeller’s Sunbird is normally mostly found west of Lake Kivu and Nyungwe Forest is one of the few remaining forests where it remains in the Eastern Albertine Rift. Nyungwe Forest National Park is one of the best places to spot the Rwenzori Turaco which can be found in abundance throughout the park.

Nyungwe Forest has some the most developed infrastructure for birding in Rwanda. There are numerous walking paths throughout the forest and there are many informative resources available at Uwinka Visitors Centre. The best bird guides in Rwanda can be found in Nyungwe Forest, most of which can be booked by contacting the park office at Uwinka. Note that there are many websites which claim to be the official park website, but are actually managed by other actors and who might provide misleading or incorrect information. Nyungwe Forest National Park is managed by African Parks and all official information can be found on the African Parks Website or the Visit Rwanda Website.

Birding in Nyungwe Forest is good throughout the year as the main species are not migratory. The dry season in July-September is generally the nesting season with less vocally birds. The wettest month is April which can make birding in Rwanda a little less pleasant. Migratory species are in the forest between November and April and the best months for birding is December to February.

There are many places to stay in and around Nyungwe National Park. For a 5 star experience,
One & Only Guest House at the forest’s edge is the place to stay. Nyungwe Top View Hotel offers good rooms and great view of the Gisakura Buffer Zone. For a more personal experience, there is a campsite at Uwinka Visitors Center which can be booked trough the park office. 

head over to the Birding in Nyungwe Forest page for complete information about birding in Nyungwe Forest

Birding in Rwanda
Red Headed Weaver

Birding in Gishwati Forest 

The forest of Gishwati-Mukura National park is a fragmented montane rainforest located in Rwanda’s Kivu Belt region. It is part of the Congo-Nile divide forest which originally stretched over the entire mountain range which divides the Congo Water Basin from the Nile Water Basin all the way from Congo to Burundi. Today’s remainders of these forest complex include Gishwati Forest, Mukura Forest and Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda and Kibira National Park in Burundi.

Gishwati Forest serves as a very important habitat for numerous birds. A total of 209 different species of birds can be found in Gishwati Mukura Forest National Park. Out of these birds, 20 are endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley and 10 bird species can be found on the IUCN Red List, meaning that they are a rare and threatened species.

As Gishwati Forest is in the Albertine Rift of the African Rift valley, there are many special bird species which can only be found here. Some of these species are endemic to the montane forests of the Congo-Nile divide and can therefore only be found in either Gishwati Forest, Mukura Forest or Nyungwe Forest.

Gishwati Forest has several newly constructed hiking trails and all visits to the park need to follow these. Since Gishwati Forest is a national park, all activities need to be arranged and booked with the park office. The brand-new park office can be found next to the main road at the edge of the forest in the end closest to Rubavu.

At the moment there is only one place to stay in Gishwati Forest.
The Forest of Hope Guest House and Camping is located at the forest’s edge. It is good point from which to explore the forest. The newly renovated guest house cottages offer great value, but there is also a protected campsite if you bring your own tent. 

Head over to the Birding in Gishwati Forest page for comeplete information about Birding in Gishwati Forest

Birding in Rwanda
Birding in Rwanda

Birding in Lake Kivu

The peaceful and tranquil Lake Kivu makes a welcoming stopover on a birding tour as well as being home to impressive numbers of White-breasted Cormorants, African Fish Eagles and Pied Kingfishers. The lake and the surrounding hotel gardens and vegetation are home to 301 bird species, including attractive species such as Double-toothed Barbet and Yellow-bellied Waxbill. The fortunate birder may also observe Ospreys during their migration, diving into the lake after the plentiful fish.

A boat trip to Napoleon’s Hat Island close to Karongi is recommended. This island is home to a very impressive colony of fruit bats and also has some good birdlife. Close to Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s newest protected area, Gishwati-Mukura National Park. This park comprises two patches of high-altitude forest and is only a short drive from Rubavu and Karongi. There are currently extensive conservation efforts to restore the habitat between these important habitats. The forests hold good birdlife Gishwati 232 species and Mukura 163 species, including several Albertine Rift Endemics and montane forest specialists. Gishwati is also home to a troop of Chimpanzees, which are being habituated. Various tourism options will be available here in the near future.

There are three main towns to stay along Lake Kivu: Rusizi, Karongi and Rubavu. These offer numerous hotels in close proximity to the lake. For a more rural setting, Kinunu is a paradise amongst the coffee plantations at the the edge of Lake Kivu between Karongi and Rubavu. Kinunu offers great accommodation options at
Rushel Kivu lodge or Kinunu Guest house. Further north, just outside Nyamasheke Town is the tranquil Kumya Eco Lodge and Kumbya Retreat Center in wonderful natural setting next to the lake.

Birding in Rwanda
Malachite Kingfisher

Birding in Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park is best known for its Mountain Gorillas and Golden Monkeys. What is less well known is that the park is also home to 200 species of bird, including Albertine Rift Endemics such as Kivu Ground Thrush, Archer’s Robin-Chat and Rwenzori Double-collared Sunbird. It is also the only place in Rwanda to see Scarlet-tufted Sunbird.

Close to Volcanoes National Park are several other good birdwatching sites including: Buhanga eco-park, the northern (volcanic) lakes and the twin lakes of Burera – Ruhondo, which offer good birds and superb scenery. Rwanda’s only Ramsar site Rugezi Marsh is also nearby, this is a globally significant wetland and is home to good populations of Grauer’s Swamp Warbler and also supports Grey-crowned Cranes, Papyrus Canary and Papyrus Yellow Warbler.

As there are many visitors to Volcanoes National Park, mostly for the mountain gorillas, there are plenty of great accommodation options for all tastes around the park. 

Birding in Rwanda
Red Cheeked Cordon Bleu

Birding in Rwanda’s Eastern Wetlands

Rwanda’s wetlands and marshes cover around 10% of the country. In addition to Rugezi Marsh in the north, there are extensive wetlands along the Akanyaru and Nyabarongo rivers in the south and south-east of the country. The Akanyaru and Nyabarongo Wetlands are considered Important Bird Areas by Birdlife International.

The most easily accessible wetlands and lakes can be found in Bugesera District to the south-east of Kigali. There are numerous sites across this district that offer excellent birding within a short drive from Kigali and, so far 415 bird species that have been recorded in this region. There are several habitats in this area, such as swamps, lakes and savanna type pastoral lands. The whole district has good birding, but it advantageous to explore the area’s numerous hotspots that offer good chances to observe numerous waterbirds and savannah species; including Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Canary, White-winged Swamp Warbler, White-collared Oliveback, Lesser Jacana, White-backed Duck, Redchested Sunbird, Palm Nut Vulture, Blue-naped Mousebird and African Fish Eagle.

Birding in Rwanda’s Capital Kigali

Kigali has great Urban Birding. Hotel gardens often hold interesting bird species and Nyarutarama Lake or “Lover’s Lake” at the edge of the Kigali golf course is always productive. Even those with a few spare hours will be rewarded by a visit. Species include: White-collared Oliveback, African Swamphen, Grey-headed Bushshrike, Bat Hawk, Narina Trogon, Lesser Honeyguide, Brown-backed Honeybird, Black Cuckoo-Shrike, Olive-bellied, Red-chested Sunbird and Bronzy Sunbirds, African Goshawk, Palm Nut Vulture, Crested Barbet, Grey-backed Fiscal, Rüppell’s Starling and Black-headed Weaver.

In addition, Umusambi Village in Kigali offers rehabilitated wetlands and close up views of rescued Grey crowned Cranes and to date around 100 species have been seen in the restored habitat. The Rwanda Environment Management Authority is also developing a park at the edge of Kigali, which is a good place for urban birding. Furthermore, there are good birding sites at wetlands at the edge of the city and around Mount Kigali.

Birding in Rwanda
Crowned Crane, Rwanda's National Bird

Rwanda Bird Species

Albertine Rift Endemics

Common name

Status

Volcanoes NP

Gishwati

NP

Mukura NP

Nyungwe NP

Camudongo Forest

Rugezi Marsh

Handsome Francolin

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Rwenzori Turaco common

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Congo Bay-Owl

5 unconfiremed Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albertine Owl uncommon

Uncommon

 

 

 

X

 

 

Ruwenzori Nightjar common

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Dwarf Honeyguide uncommon

Uncommon

 

X

 

X

 

 

Ruwenzori Batis

Common

X

X

X

X

X

 

Albertine Boubou

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Willard’s Sooty Boubou

Fairly Common

 

 

 

X

 

 

Stripe-Breasted Tit

Fairly Common

X

X

X

X

X

 

Ruwenzori Apalis

Common

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain-masked Apalis

Common

X

X

X

X

X

 

Kungwe Apalis

Unommon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neumann’s Warbler

Common

 

X

X

 

 

 

Grauer’s Swampwarbler

Fairly Common

X

 

 

 

 

X

Red-faced Woodland Warbler

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Grauer’s Warbler

Fairly Common

 

 

 

X

 

 

Red-collared Babbler

Fairy Common

 

 

 

X

 

 

Kivu Ground-thrush

Uncommon

X

X

X

X

X

 

Red-throated Alethe

Common

 

X

X

X

X

 

Archer’s Robin-chat

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher

Common

 

 

 

X

 

 

Blue-headed Sunbird

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Ruwenzori Doublecollared Sunbird

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Regal Sunbird

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Rockefeller’s Sunbird

Very Uncommon

 

 

 

X

 

 

Purple-breasted Sunbird

Common

 

X

X

X

 

 

Strange Weaver

 Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Dusky Crimsonwing

Common

X

X

X

X

 

 

Shelley’s Crimsonwing

Scarce

X

X

X

X

 

 

Other Range Restricted Species

 

Common name

Status

Akagera NP

Bugesera

Rugezi Marsh

Other sites

Papyrus Gonolek

Common

X

X

 

Lake Muhazi. Localised in otherpapurys swamp

White-winged

Swamp Warbler

Common

X

X

X

X

Papyrus Yellow

Warbler

 

 

 

 

 

Red-chested Sunbird

Common

X

X

X

Kigali

Papyrus Canary

Fairly common

X

X

X

Kigali

Northern Brown-throated Weaver

Common

X

X

 

X

White-collared

Oliveback

Uncommon

 

X

 

Kigali, Lake Kivu

Grey Capped Warbler

Common

X

X

X

Kigali, Forest Blocks, Lake Kivu

Red Faced Barbet

Common

X

X

 

 

Shoebill

Uncommon

X

X

 

 

Caruther’s Cisticola

Fairly common

X

X

X

 

When to go Birding in Rwanda​

As the main draws for birding in Rwanda are the endemics. These Rwanda birds are resident and present in year-round. Western Rwanda around the Albertine Rift receives abundant rainfall year-round with a few exceptions. The dry season is June to September, this is the best season to visit if you wish to avoid heavy rain, but this is also the season when most resident species nest and will be quiet. Expect the West to be green even in the dry season. 

The wettest season is November and April. Expect heavy rainfall during these months, but also some sun especially in the mornings. The season of December – February receives less rain but is not dry, this season is generally the best for birding as the migratory species are present and many trees will flower. 

When To Visit Rwanda
When To Visit Rwanda
When To Visit Rwanda
When To Visit Rwanda

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Categories:Birding, Tours and Activities

Birding in Lake Kivu

05/20/2021 8:50

Birding in Lake Kivu

Birding in Lake Kivu

Birding in Africa is one of the most popular activities for visitors. With so many bird species in Africa it is no wonder that birding in Africa is one of the main reasons for visiting. There are many well-known sites for birding in Africa Ranging from Southern Africa’s migratory streaks to the Rainforests of Congo.

East Africa with its two separate Rift Valleys has many great places for birding and almost 100 endemic species. One of the best kept secret places for birding in Africa is the Albertine Rift Valley. The Albertine Rift Valley is the Western part of the Great Rift Valley and passes between Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. The Albertine Rift Valley encompasses the largest and oldest montane rainforests in Africa as well as several of Africa’s Great Lakes. The Albertine rift Valley has a total of 37 endemic bird species, making it one of the most unique regions for birding in Africa. 

Birding in Africa
Rwenzori Turaco in Rwanda

Lake Kivu

The peaceful and tranquil Lake Kivu makes a welcoming stopover on a birding tour as well as being home to impressive numbers of White-breasted Cormorants, African Fish Eagles and Pied Kingfishers. Lake Kivu, its islands and the surrounding gardens and vegetation are have a total of 301 recorded bird species, including attractive species such as Double-toothed Barbet and Yellow-bellied WaxbillOspreys migrate all the way from northern Africa and Europe to Lake Kivu where they can be found from October – April.

A great destination for birding on Lake Kivu are the islands in the archipelago outside Karongi. There are plenty of boats available to rent for a small fee.  Napoleon Island close to Karongi is home to a very impressive colony of fruit bats and also has some good birdlife including African fish eagle and Palm-Nut Vulture. Outside Karongi you will also find Monkey Island and Peace Island, both of which have a good degree of indigenous vegetation and a great bird life. Lake Kivu is in Western Rwanda in the Kivu Belt Region. For bird watching, it is ideal to combine a visit to the lake with a visit to Gishwati Forest and Nyungwe Forest, two of Rwanda’s national parks.

Birding in Africa
View of Lake Kivu

Close to Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s newest protected area, Gishwati-Mukura National Park. This park comprises two patches of high-altitude forest and is only a short drive from Rubavu and Karongi. There are currently extensive conservation efforts to restore the habitat between these important habitats. The forests hold good birdlife Gishwati 232 species and Mukura 163 species, including several Albertine Rift Endemics and montane forest specialists. Gishwati is also home to a troop of Chimpanzees, which are being habituated. Various tourism options will be available here in the near future.

There are three main towns to stay along Lake Kivu: Rusizi, Karongi and Rubavu. These offer numerous hotels in close proximity to the lake. For a more rural setting, Kinunu is a paradise amongst the coffee plantations at the the edge of Lake Kivu between Karongi and Rubavu. Kinunu offers great accommodation options at Rushel Kivu lodge or Kinunu Guest house. Further north, just outside Nyamasheke Town is the tranquil Kumbya Eco Lodge and Kumbya Retreat Center in wonderful natural setting next to the lake.

Birding in Africa
Ruaha Chat

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Categories:Birding, Tours and Activities

Biking The Congo Nile Trail – Complete Guide

05/19/2021 12:01

Biking The Congo Nile Trail – Complete Guide

The complete guide to biking the Congo Nile Trail

The most popular way to complete the Congo Nile Trail is by bike. Any normally fit individual can complete the entire 280 kms of the Congo Nile Trail from Rubavu to Rusizi in 5 days on a bike at a leisurely pace without pushing themselves too much. Most people who bike the Congo Nile Trail will do so through a tour operator, but it is also possible to complete completely on your own with your own equipment.

The 280-kilometer Congo Nile Trail from Rubavu to Rusizi lets you explore and discover the many delights of Rwanda’s Western Province: Coffee, tea and banana, quiet natural beaches, and amazing views of the beautiful, often dramatic landscape. Along the way, you ride through rural villages, cooperatives invite you to visit community based tours and you get to know the three larger Rwandan towns on the shores of Lake Kivu.

Most of the trail runs on unpaved dirt roads or on thin single tracks. A good mountain bike is necessary to complete the track. Remember that Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills for a reason and you will constantly be biking uphill or downhill. There are fully serviced accommodation options along the Congo Nile Trail and good camping facilities should you bring your own tent. 

Visit Rwanda’s Interactive Map of the Congo Nile Trail can be found here

A downloadable PDF guide to the Congo Nile Trail can be found here

Biking Map of the Congo Nile Trail

This and the other maps on this page can be opened in Google maps on any Mobile Device for easy guiding on the trail. Simply click in the square in the top right corner of the map. 

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 1, Rubavu – Kinunu

Distance: 36.5km – Elevation: Uphill ~1300m – Effective Riding: 4h

This first biking stage of the Congo Nile Trail begins some 7km south of Rubavu (formerly Gisenyi) in near the Braliwra Brewery. From the starting point after the Bralirwa Brewery, you ride overland to the agricultural village of Rwinyoni. Early birds enjoy the sunrise lighting up the lake shores.

The next village is Nkora Fishing Village where you may see fishermen returning from the traditional overnight fishing and children playing in the lake.

 The trail then leads through coffee and banana plantations to Kinunu from where accommodation on the shores of Lake Kivu is available.

Accommodation: Kinunu Guest House or Rushel Kivu lodge

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 2 Kinunu – Bumba

Distance: 28.5km – Elevation: Uphill ~1250m – Effective Riding: 3h

 A wonderful ride on the shores and hills above Lake Kivu, interacting with the local communities and enjoying the scenic views, you pass a coffee washing station before you reach Musasa where you can have lunch at Musasa Homestay which offers meals to bikers and hikers. Bike through the scenic Coko Valley renowned for its yams. In the valley the trail continues next to the Coko River. A steep climb on the far edge of the valley takes you up to Bumba and the Congo Nile Center makes you sweat as you conclude the day.

 Accommodation: Bumba Base Camp or Dian Fossey Hotel Rutsiro

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 3 Bumba – Karongi (Difficult via Mukura Forest)

Distance 61.3km – Elevation: Uphill ~1700m, – Effective Riding : 7h

This is the more challenging stage between Bumba and Karongi as it passes uphill all the way to Mukura Forest. An early departure is highly recommended as the stage is long. At the beginning of your ride – while still fresh – visit Mary Mother of the Poor, the impressive church whose bishop Aloys Bigirumwami is also a pioneer and writer on the Congo Nile Divide.

 From the Carvary hill of the Parish, a dirt road takes you on a climb through the tea plantations of the Rutsiro Tea Company. At the turn-off to the tea factory, you have already reached an elevation of almost 2450 m.

A series of descents to cross rivers, and ascents to climb out of the deep valleys, makes you reach the Continental Divide which gives the Congo Nile Trail its name. At an elevation of 2600 m you have a wonderful view of the valleys to the east which drain into the Nile River and those to the West which drain into the Congo River

Straddling the Divide is Mukura Forest, a part of the new, Gishwati-Mukura National Park. A long descent through Mukura Center and past the Ntaruko Waterfall makes you reach the Muhanga-Karongi main road in Rwimpiri.

 Rather than descending on the main road, the trail takes you through the irrigated lands of the Kwiperu community to Rubengera and – for some 2 km on tarmac – to Ryanyirakabano Center.

 Turn sharp left to join the alternative trail coming from Sure for the final 16 kilometers to Karongi.

Head towards Kibirizi, a small town with a large market and shops. From there, the trail descends to cross Musogoro River and climb along the northern flanks of the impressive Sakinnyaga mountain chain to reach Matyazo Center.

Lake Kivu welcomes you as you ride around the tip of Sakinnyaga. A 5km ride on the main road brings you to Karongi town – still referenced mostly by its old name Kibuye.

Accommodation: Karongi town offers different option for accommodation ranging from small guest houses to big hotels.

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 3 Bumba – Karongi (Easy via Sure)

Distance 31.2km – Elevation: Uphill ~800m – Effective Riding: 3.5h

This is the less demanding route to Karongi from Bumba. This stage of the Congo Nile Trail this beautiful alternative makes up for by-passing the Congo Nile Divide by bringing you much closer to the farming communities.

 Descend to Sure on a different track than the one you used on  the prvious day to climb to Bumba. Continue through banana plantations to the sandy valley of Musaho.

 Cross Muregeya River on a suspension bridge and climb gently out of the Valley up to the main road at Ryanyirakabano.

 Bend right to join the main trail coming down from the Congo Nile Divide and Mukura Forest for the final 16 kilometers to Karongi.

Head towards Kibirizi, a small town with a large market and shops. From there, the trail descends to cross Musogoro River and climb along the northern flanks of the impressive Sakinnyaga mountain chain to reach Matyazo Center.

Lake Kivu welcomes you as you ride around the tip of Sakinnyaga. A 5km ride on the main road brings you to Karongi town – still referenced mostly by its old name Kibuye.

Accommodation: Karongi town offers different option for accommodation ranging from small guest houses to big hotels.

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 4 Karongi (Kibuye) – Gisovu

Distance: 29.5km – Elevation: Uphill~ 1375m – Effective Riding: 4-5h

 Start at the roundabout in Karongi Town for the longest continuous ascent of the entire trail. See beautiful Lake Kivu behind as you climb on the dirt road.

Tea plantations and fresh breezes announce you are getting close to the end of the climb on top of Mount Karongi. Bearing right through alternating rocky descents and slit ascents the trail carries you into the heart Gisovu, one of the most famous and largest tea estates in Rwanda.

Accommodation is available some 6-9km further towards the Source of the Nile. Set in a serene paradise of tea and with sunbirds fluttering in the crisp atmosphere, the Guest House of the Gisovu Tea Eactory receives visitors for an unforgettable stay while the guest house of the Catholic Church in Twumba has rooms for budget-minded riders.

Accommodation: Gisovu Tea Eactory or Twumba Catholic Church

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 5 Gisovu – Mugonero

Distance: 11.5km – Elevation: Downhill ~675m (Uphill ~100m) – Effective Riding: 1h

After four days with much climbing, the 5th day is 95% downhill. Enjoy the long descent to Mugonero through forests and community farms. Refreshing winds blow from Lake Kivu and shade is provided by eucalyptus, pine and fruit trees.

 This short stage ends in Mugonero at the tarmac road.

Accommodation: L’ Esperance Orphanage Mugonero or Kivu Lodge(+8km)

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 6 Mugonero -Tyazo

Distance: 56.6km – Elevation: Uphill ~1800m – Effective Riding: 6h

Start day six by choosing between a boat ride from Kivu Lodge to Ku Rukunda or a thrilling downhill on tarmac around the famous Dawurimwijuru corner.

Whichever way you choose, you reach Dukoni center, from where you continue your ride through banana farms to descend to the rice fields in the estuary of Gisuma river. Then, the trail climbs to Muhombori and Mukamina, and brings you – via Mu Gakoma – back to the Lake for a beautiful stretch along the shores.

A rocky climb takes you to the main road in Ryadomori. 9km on tarmac to Kadehero let you relax and catch your breath, before looping again on dirt roads and single trails through hills and across community made bridges to arrive in Tyazo.

Accommodation: Plan A Motel, Tyazo Guest House, or Ishara Beach Hotel 5.5 kms further. Ibigabiro Hotel in Nyamasheke Town is also a good option. 

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 7 Tyazo – Kigaga

Distance: 34.2km – Elevation: Uphill ~1175m – Effective Riding: 4-5h

A good ascent to a center called “Kigali kwa Sebujangwe” will warm you up for the pleasant descent to Kinini back on the main road.

Decide in Kinini, if you want to bear left to climb to Gisakura to visit Nyungwe Forest (8.8km), or continue on the main trail to Kigaga.

For Kigaga, continue on the other side of the main road through a stretch of villages to eventually descend into a wide valley. Crossing the rivers, you arrive at the so called “Olympic climb” – a very short, super steep climb, challenging even for Tour of Rwanda riders.

A series of descents and ascents will take you to Bushenge market, where a stop for refreshment is recommended. The last portion of this stage to Kigaga is mostly flat or downhill.

It is here on the shores of the Lake Kivu, the first German Post was founded in 1896 by Captain Berthe. Richard Kandt settled here and called the post “Bergfrieden”, after having discovered in 1898 what he then believed is Caput Nili, the Source of the Nile.

Accommodation is available at the Shangi St. Martin Parish. Alternatively you may push on with Stage 8 to reach Kamembe on the same day.

Accommodation: St. Martin Parish

Biking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 8: Kigaga – Kamembe

Distance: 20.2km – Elevation: Uphill ~475m – Effective Riding: 2.5h

Without too much elevation to gain, this short last stage of the trail ends your ride on a relaxing note. Descend to the beautiful rice fields in Cyunu Valley. Crossing the bridge, you arrive in Rusizi, the last of the five Districts you visit on this trail. As in Eastern DRC, you see villages (Nkaka and Gihundwe) with wooden houses lining the road.

The Congo Nile trail ends in the middle of busy Kamembe Town, where accommodation in all categories and transportation back to Kigali is available.

Kamembe, formerly known as Cyangugu, always played important role in Rwandan History. Today the border post down at Rusizi River sees a bustling exchange with Bukavu.

Accommodation: The town offers different option for accommodation ranging from small guest houses to big hotels.


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Categories:The Congo Nile Trail, The Congo Nile Trail, Tours and Activities

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail – The Complete Guide

05/19/2021 10:14

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail – The Complete Guide

Complete guide to hiking the Congo Nile Trail

The Congo Nile Hiking Trail is one of the most iconic hiking trails in Rwanda. The trail is popular with both cyclists and hikers, traversing rain forests, bracken fields and bamboo forests. The entire Congo Nile Trail passes along the hills of Lake Kivu with magnificent views from the hiking trail of Lake Kivu and the rolling Rwandan hills. The Congo Nile trail takes 10 days to complete on foot combined with two short boat rides. It is possible to hike each single section or the entire trail, which is the longest trail for hiking in Rwanda. The hiking trail follows mainly the footpaths of the local people and is a wonderful way to soak up daily Rwandan life in traditional villages, very close to nature and experience Rwanda up-close.

With interesting community-based tourism activities, coffee-washing stations, tea plantations, big towns, dozens of villages, and innumerable beaches, coves, waterfalls, valleys and vistas, the winding path of the Congo Nile Hiking Trail offers some of the finest hiking in Rwanda and perhaps to be had anywhere in east and central Africa. Winding its way along the fringes of the lake via the peaks of Rwanda’s green hills, the Congo-Nile Trail as challenging as it is rewarding. With a peak elevation of 2,630m, like most hiking in Rwanda, it’s a serious workout to boot.

There are camp sites along the trail or guest houses in the towns for those after a bit more comfort. Refreshments are available along the route supplied by small shops. Active hikers can discover the coastal waters on kayaking tours and boat rides and visit the many islands of Lake Kivu. The Congo Nile Trail can be trekked from both directions (North to South/ South to North). Hikers are advised to book ahead for accommodation facilities and /or meals

Hiking map of the Congo Nile Trail

This and the other maps on the page can be opened in Google Maps on any mobile device and for easy guiding on the trail. Simply click in the square in the top right corner of the map. 

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 1, Rubavu – Cyimbiri

Starting point: BRALIRWA Brewery Ltd.
Duration: 5 hours
Length: 16.5 km

The 16.5 km stage of the Congo Nile Trail starts from Rubavu, the largest beach town of Rwanda. The town has a range of accommodations from budget guest houses to four-star accommodation. Stage one ends at Cyimbiri Guest House located on the shores of Lake Kivu and surrounded mainly by coffee estates and other green plantations. In the middle of this stage, you can choose to do different community-based activities from traditional pottery, traditional healing and music to coffee and tea experiences.

Accommodation: Cyimbiri Guest House with possibility to camp or rent one of the apartments.

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 2, Cyimbiri – Kinunu

Starting point: Cyimbiri Guest House
Duration: 4 hours
Length: 13.4 km

The second stage of the Congo Nile Trail passes near or along Lake Kivu and offers some of the most varied hiking in Rwanda. The 13.4 from Cyimbiri to Kinunu passes through small villages and harbours. This stage of the Congo Nile Trail starts with the traditional healing trail and continues with the charming views of the amazing landscapes and coffee plantations of Kinunu. In the middle of this stage, hikers have opportunities to experience some community-based tourism products including the beekeeping experience, coffee experience as well as handcrafting experiences with a local women cooperative.

Accommodation: Kinunu Guest House or Rushel Kivu lodge

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 3, Kinunu – Bumba

Starting point: Kinunu Center
Duration: 7 hours
Length: 24 km

This challenging but walkable stage of the Congo Nile Trail gives hikers an opportunity to walk around rolling hills and have a great view of the clear water of the Lake Kivu with some of the best views of hiking in Rwanda. Different agro-tourism activities are available for those who prefer to spend some time with the local communities in their daily activities. The hiking trail is high above Lake Kivu providing amazing views of the lake and the Koko-River Valley. This stage of the Congo Nile Trail has has some steep and challenging hikes.

Accommodation: Bumba Base Camp or Dian Fossey Hotel Rutsiro

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 4 Bumba – Karongi

Starting point: Bumba Base Camp
Duration: 5 hours
Length: 15.9 km

This 15.9 km is the last stage of the northern part of the Congo-Nile Hiking Trail from Bumba to Karongi Town. Karongi is one of the most unique places for hiking in Rwanda as it has numerous of bays and islands. Before entering the calm town of Karongi, hikers take a short boat trip to Home Saint Jean, one of the many of accommodation options available in Karongi. One of the most iconic experiences in Rwanda is the Night Fishing Experience which we advise you to do during your stay in Karongi. There are also other community-based activities including the swimming cows, sorghum beer making and silkworms’ experiences as well as boat rides to different hilly islands available in Lake Kivu. Cross Muregeya-River on the suspension bridge, then follow small the footpaths of the local people up and down over some hills, down to the lake and up again. Pass banana forests and the rich diversity of landscapes.

Observe! This stage requires a boat passage across the bay just before arriving at Home St. Jean which must be booked/announced in advance. Your local guide or the previous accommodation can help you book.

 

Accommodation: The town offers different option for accommodation ranging from small guest houses to big hotels.

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 5, Karongi – Mugonero

Starting point: Karongi Hospital roundabout
Duration: 6 hours
Length: 19.6 km

This 19.6 km stage of the Congo Nile Trail gives remarkable views of Lake Kivu and its beautiful islands. From this stretch of the Congo Nile Trail, you can see the fascinating Kivu Belt Road twisting on the shores of Lake Kivu a unique sight while hiking in Rwanda. The stage ends at Mugonero Orphanage, which also offers accommodation.

For those who like to challenge themselves and want to extend their hiking in Rwanda for a few extra days, there is the possibility to make a detour and to hike up Mount Karongi to the Gisovu Tea plantations. This hiking trail continues up to Nyungwe National Park or you can re-join the Congo-Nile Hiking Trail the next day. Gisovu offers accommodation facility and tea experience in the middle of the tea plantations.

Accommodation: L’ Esperance Orphanage Mugonero

Congo Nile Trail, Hiking Stage 6, Mugonero – Karengera

Starting point: L’Esperance Mugonero
Duration: 7 hours
Length: 22.5 km

This long but amazing stage of the Congo Nile Trail of 22.5 km offers you beautiful footpaths through hills, valleys and fields. There are several viewpoints to the Lake Kivu and the Kivu Belt road. The hike ends at Karengera High School. The start of this stage is a bit different than other hiking in Rwanda as it starts with a boat trip across Mugonero Bay, climb up small paths to a hill 1,800m high (350m above lake level) overlooking the lake, pass a valley with rice fields, follow a long and small valley framed by steep hills before climbing up through fields and small forests to Karengera.

Observe! There is one boat passage across Mugonero Bay which must be booked/announced in advance. Your local guide or the previous accommodation can help you book.

Accommodation: Karengera High School

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 7, Karengera – Kumbya

Starting point: Karengera High School
Duration: 4 hours
Length: 14.7 km

From Karengera, the 7th stage of the Congo Nile Trail of 14.7 km goes mainly through rice fields. This stage leads you to Kumbya, a hidden gem. This is one of the most serene of all hiking in Rwanda  to the lovely, serene and peaceful retreat center on a little peninsula on Lake Kivu secluded away from the rest of Rwanda. This peninsula with a small forest of native trees is a birder’s paradise and offers two options for accommodation on the shores of the lake, either inside the retreat center or at the Kumbya Kivu Life Eco Lodge. Cross the rice fields of Kilimbi-River on small dams, jump over small ditches, watch the herons on the fields and the monkeys near Kumbya.

Accommodation: Kumbya Retreat Centre or Kumbya Kivu Life Eco lodge

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 8, Kumbya – Ishara

Starting point: Kumbya peninsula entrance
Duration: 3 hours
Length: 13 km

This 13 km of the Congo Nile Trail starts with a very beautiful footpath along the banks of the lake, continues through several villages where you come across charming smiles and greetings from the rural communities along the trail. The end of this stage is quite unique compared to other hiking in Rwanda as it ends with a walk through the rice fields of Kamiranzovu Valley. Ishara Beach Hotel in Nyamasheke is the main accommodation after this stage. However, one can choose to stay in other available guest houses in Nyamasheke. The trail follows the path on the shores of Karundura River.

Accommodation: Ishara Beach Hotel in Nyamasheke or Guest houses available in Nyamasheke Town

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 9, Ishara – Shangi ​

Starting point: Ishara Beach Hotel
Duration: 7 hours
Length: 24 km

Laying very close to Lake Kivu and surrounded by nature, this 24 km stage of the Congo Nile Trail is also a great trek through beautiful vegetations, including forests of eucalyptus trees. The stage of the Congo Nile Trail is mainly on narrow footpaths passing through villages and fields. This is one of the few trails for hiking in Rwanda which also offers astonishing lake views with long passages on the coastal path of Lake Kivu. The stage ends at Shangi Catholic Church where you can stay at St. Martin Parish in the priests ‘compound. In Shangi, you can visit one of the historical landmarks “Richard Kandt House”. For more info about this German explorer and first colonial governor of Rwanda, please download the Richard Kandt Trail App.

Accommodation: St. Martin Parish

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail, Stage 10, Shangi – Kamembe

Starting point: Shangi Catholic Church
Duration: 5 hours
Length: 18.3 km

The last stage of the Congo Nile Trail stretches for 18.3 km from Shangi to Kamembe Town in Rusizi District. Rusizi is the largest town on the shores of the lake Kivu and only approximately an hour drive from Nyungwe National Park and home to Kamembe Airport, one of the two current operating Airports in Rwanda. The town offers different option for accommodation ranging from small guest houses to big hotels. There are many options for community-based tourism activities including night fishing, boat rides to the inhabited islands and other cultural experiences.

Accommodation: Rusizi town offers different option for accommodation ranging from small guest houses to big hotels.


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Categories:Hiking, The Congo Nile Trail, The Congo Nile Trail, Tours and Activities

Operators selling the Congo Nile Trail

05/19/2021 9:16

Operators selling the Congo Nile Trail

Booking the Congo Nile Trail with a proffessional company

The easiest and most convenient way to hike, bike or kayak The Congo Nile Trail is through a local tour operator. There are many operators in Rwanda who can organize various tours and packages along the Congo Nile Trail. Most operators will be able to provide you with a transfer to and from Kigali, a guide, bikes if you are biking, book accommodation and porters to transport your luggage to and from your accommodation. They will also include various activities like chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest or a night fishing experience with dinner one evening. This list is a compilation of all operators who organize hiking, biking or kayaking on the Congo Nile Trail. 

Ames Tours

Ames Tours is based in Rubavu (Gisenyi) at the start of the Congo Nile Trail. Ames Tours will help to organize hiking and biking package tours on the Congo Nile Trail. Ames Tours also have several boats and organize various boat trips around Karongi and Rubavu. Asa a local company, they have some of the most experienced guides who know the Kivu Belt Region like the back of their hand. You can also book various shorter hiking, biking and boating excursions in Karongi and Rubavu if you wish.

https://amestours.com/

Tour Operators selling the Congo Nile Trail
Boat tour on Lake Kivu

Green Hills Eco Tours

This tour operator has their office near the public beach in Rubavu and offer numerous tours around Rubavu as well as multi-day tours on the Congo Nile Trail by foot or by bike. The local owner has an extensive network and knowledge of the Kivu Belt Region.

http://www.greenhillsecotours.com/

Kingfisher Journeys​

Kingfisher journeys are operated from Rubavu in the Kivu Belt and specialize in canoeing and kayaking. They have great guides and professional equipment. Kingfisher journeys can organize multi-day canoeing or kayaking tours of the Congo Nile Trail on Lake Kivu. Paddling the Congo Nile Trail is a very comfortable way to experience the trail and Lake Kivu and involves some islands and experience which cannot be reached on foot or by bike.

https://www.kingfisherjourneys.com/

Operators selling the Congo Nile Trail
Lunch on the Congo Nile Trail

Lava Bike Tours​

Lava bike tours is one of the most renowned tour companies when it comes to biking in Rwanda. All guides of Lava Tours are professional biking enthusiasts. They have high quality bikes and all other equipment needed to bike the Congo Nile Trail.

https://lavabiketours.com/

Go Gisenyi Tours​

Go Gisenyi Tours are based in Rubavu (Gisenyi) and is run by a couple of local enthusiasts with extensive knowledge of The Kivu Belt and the Congo Nile Trail. Go Gisenyi Tours offers various premade and custom tours around the Congo Nile Trail, including multi-day hiking and biking tours on the trail. All tours are guided by the owners of the company who also have extensive local knowledge and connections.

https://gogisenyi.wordpress.com/

Ask 4 Adventures​

This company is specialized in helping visitors to experience genuine outdoor experiences in Rwanda of the beaten path. They specialize in hiking, biking and camping in various locations around Rwanda, including the Congo Nile Trail. Ask4Adventure also rent out bikes, camping equipment and organize transfers.

https://ask4adventure.com/

Beyond Kigali City Tours​

A Kigali based tour operator who offer a mixture of city tours and other multiday tours. They can organize complete guided biking tours of the Congo Nile Trail including transfer from Kigali.

https://www.beyondkigalitours.com/

Beyond Gorillas Experience​

This operator is based in Musanze and specializes in genuine experiences involving local communities off the beaten track in Rwanda. They offer many different tours along the Congo Nile Trail as well as multi day hiking and transfers from Kigali to and from the Cong Nile trail.

https://www.beyondthegorillasexperience.com/

Country Side Tours Rwanda​

This company organizes various tours from Kigali to the Kivu Belt and the Congo Nile Trail at affordable prices. 

https://www.countrysidetoursrwanda.com/

Rwanda Eco Company & Safaris​

Rwanda Eco Company offer complete guided hiking packages of the Congo Nile Trail including a guide, full board and accommodation. The standard tour takes 9 days and includes Chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest after hiking the Congo Nile Trail.

https://rwandaecocompany.com/

Operators selling the congo nile trail

Ikaze Rwanda Tours​

Ikaze Rwanda Tours are based in Kigali and specialize in outdoor activities around Rwanda. They offer various multiday hiking and biking tours on the Congo Nile Trail which are fully serviced including transfer to and from Kigali, guide, accommodation and full board.

https://ikazerwandatours.com/

New Dawn Associates​

This Kigali-based tour operator can help you organize a multi-day biking tour of the Congo Nile Trail with a guide, a bike and other necessary equipment.

http://www.newdawnassociates.com/

Rwandan Adventures​

Rwandan adventures have several multi-day packages for hiking and biking the Congo Nile Trail. The packages are customizable but generally include transfer to and from Kigali, a guide, accommodation and all the necessary equipment you will need.

http://www.rwandan-adventures.com/


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Categories:The Congo Nile Trail

The Congo Nile Trail

05/18/2021 14:16

The Congo Nile Trail

The Congo Nile Trail

The Congo Nile Trail is a hiking and biking trail in in Rwanda. The trail can be completed on foot, by bike or by kayak. The Congo Nile Trail traverses a series of interconnected single paths, dirt roads and hiking tracks through the tropical Kivu Belt Region on the shores of Lake Kivu. As it stretches along the scenic shores of Lake Kivu, hikers on the Congo Nile Trail trek by some of Africa’s few remaining tropical rainforests, vast coffee plantations and hidden beaches. This trail is scattered with unexplored experiences, often hosted by locals along the trail. For those looking for a genuine, yet safe hiking or biking experience in Africa away from the beaten path, Rwanda’s Congo Nile Trail is a hiking trail waiting for you to challenge her on foot, by bike or by kayak and is one of the most iconic and best hiking trails in Africa.

The Congo Nile Trail. The name is as exotic as it is confusing. As the name of an African hiking and biking trail, the name makes you think of two completely different African locations.  The name of the hiking trail comes from the fact that the hike passes along the mountain ridge of the African Congo-Nile divide which divides the rainfall into two of Africa’s largest rivers. All rainfall which falls to the west of this ridge trickles down and eventually ends up in the Congo River. All rainfalls which falls to the east of this ridge eventually ends up in the Nile River.

In the past years Africa and Rwanda has risen as one of the world’s foremost upcoming ecotourism destinations. Even though Rwanda is mostly known for the Mountain Gorillas, the country has a lot more to offer than this. Known as the safest and cleanest country in Africa, it’s thousands of rolling hills and a nice and welcoming people it has made itself known as of the best African countries for hiking and biking. Located in Eastern Africa, the tropical climate along with the elevation gives Rwanda constant year-round pleasant temperatures of around 25°C (77°F). Since Congo Nile Trail runs along the shores of Lake Kivu, one of Africa’s great lakes, the views are magnificent and the friendly smiles of the locals from the villages are sure to charm every visitor. The rolling Rwandan hills and winding roads, have in recent years seen the rise of the cycling team Team Africa Rising which have started to have international success and Rwanda has also applied to host the 2025 World Cycling Championships.

The biking trail and the hiking trails of the Congo Nile Trail overlap in places and have slightly different overnight stop overs and therefore require different planning

Go here for a complete, including maps and stage descriptions, guide to biking the Congo Nile Trail

Go here for a complete, including maps and stage descriptions, guide to hiking the Congo Nile trail

What to expect along the Congo Nile trail

Part of the Congo Nile Trail consists of dirt roads while other parts of the trail consists of single dirt tracks only accessible by hiking or on a mountain bike. There are two different routes which at some points cross and at places overlap. One route is for biking and one is for hiking.

Rwanda very safe compared to other places for hiking in Africa. Rwanda is known as the safest country in Africa and there is no crime to speak of. You can feel safe to pitch a tent just about anywhere without having to worry about being robbed. Compared to other places you might go hiking in Africa there is no large wildlife in Rwanda outside of the national parks. You do no have to worry about bumping in to a heard of buffalo while hiking or biking the Congo Nile Trail.

The lack of wild animals also goes for the Lake Kivu. Many other African Lakes are dangerous since there are often hippos and crocodiles living in them. There are no dangerous animals in Lake Kivu and you can feel safe to refresh on one of the lake’s beaches after a days hiking or biking the trail.

The people in Rwanda are very friendly. Rwandans are known to be a bit more calm and timid compared to other parts of Africa.  As a visitor to rural Rwanda you will stand out. For many people, seeing a foreigner is something exciting, so be prepared for many people to be curious about you, want to talk to you and great you. You will never be treated in a bad way, but in some places where you stop you might have a crowd nearby who are curious about what you are doing. The language barrier in rural Rwanda is quite strong and most people except for staff at hotels speak only Kinyarwanda and a few words of English, French or Swahili. Despite the language barrier, people will often go out of their way to help you in case you are lost or if there is a problem. 

Congo Nile Trail
View over Lake Kivu from the Congo Nile Trail

What to do along the Congo Nile Trail

While hiking or biking the Congo Nile Trail through the rolling hills, it passes different plantations and villages. Rwanda is a large producer of both coffee and tea both of which you will see plenty of along the Congo Nile Trail. To learn more about coffee production, COOPROCACI Coffee Cooperative has a great coffee tour and both Rushel Kivu Lodge and Kinunu Guest House organizes coffee tours at the nearby plantation and coffee washing stations. To learn more about tea production, Pfunda Tea Factory organizes a tea tour which includes picking tea and a look inside the nearby tea factor. One thing which amazes along the Congo Nile Trail are the banana plantations. Banana is the most abundantly grown crops along the trail and bananas are cooked and eaten in many ways in Rwanda.

Another common sight along the trail are the traditional beehives made from banana fibers. These traditional beehives can be found hung in trees along the trail and are normally harvested a couple of times a year. Local honey can be bought in many places. Some communities along the Congo Nile Trail organize honey harvesting tours.  

Sorghum is a crop commonly used to make beer in Rwanda as is common throughout Africa. This traditional brew, commonly known as kigage is thick and nutritious. Kigage is normally drunk during traditional ceremonies and weddings in Rwanda. In a village just outside Karongi, a local village organizes a very special Sorghum-beer experience. During the experience, guests are invited to take part in a sorghum beer making tour. The tour includes the entire process of beer making, from seed to drink and involves planting, harvesting and fermenting the sorghum. The experience ends with tasting the finished kigage along with traditional food.

Many of the villages along the Congo Nile Trail have specialized in making of traditional crafts. Common crafts are various types of traditional pottery and different types of weaving. The making of crafts in the villages are often organized in the form of cooperatives who support and train each other and share profits. Most of these craft making cooperatives are happy to have visitors to join them in craft making or who come to purchase some of their crafts. For pottery making tours along the Congo Nile Trail, you can visit Kiguri Pottery Rubavu or Kigano Pottery at Ishara Beach outside Nyamasheke. Nearby Gishwati Forest you will find COOVAKARU Cooperative of women who weave baskets and other things. Young Women Destination in Rubavu is a cooperative of young women who meet every Saturday to make crafts which they sell in town. They are happy to have visitors join them in in craft making or one of their other traditional experiences.

Since you are close to the shores of Lake Kivu, several different activities will take you out on the lake. Most places where you stop close to the lake will offer boat trips. The best place for a boat trip is without a doubt Karongi which has numerous interesting islands to visit. The most interesting of the islands in Karongi is Napoleon Island which hosts a large colony of straw-colored fruit bats and a nice hike to the peak of the island with a splendid view of the surrounding archipelago.

One of the most unique experiences along the Congo Nile Trail is the Lake Kivu night fishing experience. The night fishing experience is an evening with the singing fishermen of Lake Kivu where you get to join the traditional fishermen as they spend the night fishing sambaza the same way as their ancestors have done for generations.

There are numerous beaches along the Congo Nile Trail where you can enjoy a dip after a long day on the trail. For a complete list, head over to the Lake Kivu Beach Guide. 

The Congo Nile Trail

National Parks along the Congo Nile Trail

Parts of the Congo Nile Trail passes on top of the mountain range which divides the Congo basin from the Nile Basin. This mountain range used to be covered in an ancient montane rainforest which stretched from Congo to Burundi. As the montane rainforest on the Congo Nile divide has been separated from the surrounding areas of similar habitats, many species here evolved separately. Many animals evolved separately from other populations in these forests. Today these animals are endemic species which can only be found in the remaining forests of the Congo Nile Divide.  Most of the original vast forest has been cut down, but some large portions of this rainforest have been preserved as national parks. These are today protected as part of Nyungwe Forest National Park and Gishwati-Mukura National Park. The Congo Nile Trail passes next to both of these national parks where you can not only see the remaining endemic species but also a number of endangered primates including the elusive eastern chimpanzee.

Nyungwe Forest National is a large area which contains some of Africa’s oldest forests. It is full of hiking trails, waterfalls and has one of the world’s largest population of the eastern chimpanzee. Gishwati Mukura National Park was recently made into a national park and contains two separate pockets of rainforest. In Gishwati Forest a small population of chimpanzees can still be found and there are several hiking trails and waterfalls throughout the forest.

Apart from the chimpanzees, these forests contain another 12 species of primates, more than 300 species of birds, 30 of which are endemic, and several other large mammals including serval cats and jackals. There are also many exotic butterflies as well as endemic flowers and trees in these forests.

If you want to visit one of the national parks while on the Congo Nile trail it is possible to take a small detour and do so. A detour to the biking stage 3 of the Congo Nile Trail will take you past Mukura Forest. The 4th biking stage of the trail takes you to Gisovu, which is very close to the northern part of Nyungwe Forest National Park. The road which passes through the Gisovu Tea Estate passes through one corner of Nyungwe Forest where you could potentially do some wildlife spotting from the road. All park activities, including chimpanzee tracking can be booked from the Gisovu Office located Gisovu Tea Estate. Be prepared that most of the activities start early in the morning and need to be pre-booked at least the day before.

Nyungwe National Park is best visited as a separate activity after the Congo Nile Trail and can easily be arranged with an operator from Rusizi or Kamembe. Most activities start early in the morning and require at least half a day to complete, so an overnight in or near the park is necessary. A good base for visiting the park is either the campsite in the park near Uwinka Visitors Center which also offers rustic cabins or one of the nearby lodges such as Nyungwe Top View Hotel or upmarket One & Only Nyungwe House.

Gishwati Forest, located a short distance away from Rubavu at the northern end of the Congo Nile Trail has one accommodation option in close connection to the park. The Forest of Hope Guest House and Camp Site is located next to the forest. They offer camping accommodation or accommodation in a nice guest house. The place is located at the edge of the forest with spectacular views of the forest and surrounding landscape.

To do a hike or other activity inside one of the national parks, chimpanzee trekking or other activities, you need to pre-book and organize this with a private tour operator, with RDB, or the operator of the national park.  Nyungwe is operated by African Parks and Gishwati Mukura is operated by Wilderness Safaris. All hiking inside the national parks require a guide and a permit. This can be bought at the park office or online in the online system Irembo which can be found here. More information can be found at one of the park offices, including booking of park activities. 

Congo Nile Trail
Congo Nile Trail passes next to the vast Nyungwe Forest

Where to stay along the Congo Nile Trail

Finding somewhere to stay along the Congo Nile Trail is easy and there are many different forms of accommodation. In Rubavu, Karongi and Rusizi there are numerous different levels of hotels, hostels and campsites. Between the larger centers there are also a lot of different places to stay from hotels to rustic community run hostels, to campsites with toilets and showers.

This list of accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail will help you, so will the plan of the Hiking or Biking which has recommendation of accommodation after each stage of the Congo Nile Trail. 

Congo Nile Trail
Rushel Kivu Lodge along the Congo Nile Trail

Planning for the Congo Nile Trail

The Congo Nile Trail normally starts in Rubavu and ends in Rusizi but can be done in any direction. Plan for 10 days to hike or 5-8 days to bike the entire trail. There are also good options for shorter weekend trips or day hikes from one of the basecamps along the trail. Accommodation and food can be found at the end of each stage of the trail but should be pre-booked. Shops and other service like bike mechanics can be found in the villages. For more detailed information, read about the hiking stages or biking stages of the Congo Nile Trail. 

Hiking the Congo Nile Trail
Hiking the Congo Nile Trail

Getting to and from the Congo Nile Trail

The Congo Nile Trail runs along the entire Kivu Belt Region in Rwanda. The towns of Rubavu, Karongi or Rusizi serve as good bases from where to start or end the Congo Nile Trail. These towns are easy to get to from Kigali by bus or your own car and offer everything you need in terms of service, food and accommodation. There are many bus companies with several daily departures from Kigali. The fastest and most reliable bus company who operate large, well maintained and modern buses is Ritco. Most buses depart from Nyabugogo Taxi Park in Kigali. Tickets can generally be bought in advance in the ticket offices at Nyabugogo but is generally not needed and can also be bought by mobile money or cash directly on the bus. 


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