Destination Kivu Belt

Posts Tagged Biking

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 

Includes

More information

Contact the organizer

Map

More products

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.

Read More

Tags:, , , .
Categories:Hiking, Tours and Activities

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail

05/19/2021 13:29

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail

There are many options of accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail for all budgets no matter if you are hiking, biking or kayaking the Congo Nile Trail. This list shows some of the options along the trail, but there are many more options which can be found if asking around. Rwanda is developing rapidly and new hotels are constantly being built along the shore of Lake Kivu and the Congo Nile Trail. 

Accommodation in Rubavu

Rubavu is a rather large and touristic town on the shores of lake Kivu and where the Congo Nile Trail starts. There are many options of places to stay in and around Rubavu near the start of the Congo Nile Trail. The start of the Congo Nile Trail Stage 1 is near Bralirwa Brewery, a few kilometres outside of Rubavu along the newly paved road by the lake shores.

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail
Beach at Lake Kivu Serena, Rubavu

High end accommodation

Lake Kivu Serena

Classic hotel with private beach on the shores of Lake Kivu with sunbeds. Restaurant offers bar seating or seating down in the garden by the lake.

https://www.serenahotels.com/serenalakekivu/en/default.html

Mid Range Accommodation

Gorillas Lake Kivu

Well managed hotel close to Rubavu Public beach. Nice tropical garden with a large pool and and views of the lake from the upper floors.

http://www.gorillashotels.com/?rubrique4

Palm Beach Resort

Resort style hotel with round stone bungalows situated in a wonderful tropical palm garden on the shores of Lake Kivu. Nice restaurant and bar with seating at the edge of the lake.

https://the-palm-beach-resort-gisenyi.booked.net/

Nirvana Heights Resort and Spa

Hotel mostly known for its pool with a view over the bay. Nice seating area with a view but rooms are pretty basic.

https://dtravela.com/hotels/rwanda/rubavu/Nirvana-Heights-Hotel-Spa

Stipp hotel

Nice classic hotel on near Rubavu’s lakefront. Upper rooms have balconies with view of Lake Kivu. The garden has a pool and a children’s play area.

http://stipphotelgisenyi.com-rwanda.com/

Hill View Hotel

Hotel with a good location near the public beach. Unfortunately, a bit run down but caters mostly towards business travelers. There is a pool next to the parking and a pool bar which unfortunately closes at sundown.

http://hillviewhotelrwanda.com/

Paradise Malahide

Simple hotel with good restaurant offering seating by the water. The bungalows are very simple and offer overnight accommodation in Rwandan style using local materials.. There is also a private island in the bay. 

https://www.paradisemalahide.com/

Budget Accommodation

Musanto Hotel

Good value hotel near the beach bars at the end of the public beach. Simple standard, but functional and clean. Nice garden with restaurant.

https://www.hotelmusanto.com/

Discover Rwanda Discover Beach

Hostel with shared or self-contained rooms in an old colonial villa. Great location across the beach from the public beach in Rubavu.

http://www.discoverrwanda.net/

Hakuna Matata Lodge

Nice place on the shores of Lake Kivu and a good restaurant. Garden stretches all the way down to the water’s edge and rooms overlook the lake.

http://www.hakunamatatalodge.rw/

Cyimbiri Accommodation

Budget accommodation

Cyimbiri Guest House

This guest house is run by the local community who also runs the school in the village. The accommodation is divided in two different apartments located at the edge of the lake. The apartments are basic, but comfortable and clean with electricity and hot running water. Each apartment has a number of ensuite double and single rooms, a common sitting room, a dining table and a kitchen with a gas stove. There are also comfortable camping facilities on the lawn by the water with access to bathrooms with shower facilities and toilets. Food can be cooked in one of the kitchens or food can be pre ordered by contacting the guest house before arrival. There is a nice beach for swimming.

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail
Community owned Cyimbiri Guest House

Kinunu Accommodation

Mid Range Accommodation

Kinunu Guest House

This Guest house is located on a hill shaded by local trees and a nice garden leading down to the lake. There is a beach for swimming nearby behind the coffee washing station. The guest house is small but well managed and offers two different kinds of accommodation. Stay in one of the comfortable rooms in the guest house or in one of the new apartments with private terrace and views of Lake Kivu.

http://kinunuwonders.rw/

Rushel Kivu Lodge

Resort style hotel at the shore of Lake Kivu with private beach volleyball and nice beach. There is a number of different accommodation options ranging from smaller tents, luxurious suites and normal hotel rooms. There is a full service restaurant overlooking the private garden and beach.

https://rushelkivu.wixsite.com/home

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail1
View over Rushel Kivu Lodge from the Congo Nile Trail

Bumba Accommodation

Budget accommodation

Bumba Base Camp

Simple, but clean accommodation in the form of 4 rooms with bathrooms with running (cold) water. There are camping facilities on a nearby lawn and a service building with toilets and running water. Food should be pre ordered.

Bumba Base Camp

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail
View over Lake Kivu from Bumba Base Camp

Vive Hotel / Diane Fossey Hotel Rutsiro

This large hotel has magnificent views from the edge of the town overlooking the valley below and Lake Kivu in the distance. The Hotel has recently undergone renovations and is relatively nice. There is a restaurant and a bar.

Dian Fossey Hotel Rutsiro

Karongi Accommodation

High end accommodation

Inn on the Lake

Nice modern designed place on the lake front with a garden which slopes down to the lake and wonderful views of the islands outside Karongi.

http://www.innonthelakekibuye.com/

Moriah Hill

Modern and well designed hotel by the lake. Nice restaurant with lake view.

https://moriah-hill.com/

Mid Range Accommodation

Delta Resort Hotel

Large hotel with lake view rooms and a private beach next to the museum of environment in Rubavu. Nice bar on the beach.

http://deltaresorthotel.rw/

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail
Beach at Delta Resort in Karongi

Cormoran Lodge

Wooden lodge built on a sloping garden with a private beach. Nice restaurant with views over the islands and the lake.

http://www.cormoranlodge.com/

Budget Accommodation

Home St. Jean

Good for value accommodation near the Congo Nile Trail. Good food and rooms at affordable prices with nice views over the lake.

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=202994716515335

Bethany Hotel B

Not to be mistaken with Bethany Hotel A. Run down hotel at a prime location at the sea front. Cheap and somewhat functional with a nice view of the lake. 

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail
Bethany Hotel "B" in Karongi, run down but great location

Mugonero Accommodation

Budget Accommodation

L’ Esperance Orphanage Mugonero

It is possible to stay in one of the comfortable visitor rooms with access to toilets and showers at the Orphanage. Food and the room must be pre ordered by contacting the orphanage before arrival.

L’ Esperance Orphanage Mugonero

Gisovu Accommodation

Budget Accommodation

Twumba Catholic Church

Guest room at the catholic church in Twumba at the edge of the tea plantations in Gisovu.

Mid Range Accommodation

Gisovu Tea Estate Guest House

Nice guest house with only three rooms located in the middle of the tea plantations in Gisovu Estate. Good place to stay when biking stage 4 of the Congo Nile Trail or as a base to explore Nyungwe Forest.

Gisovu Tea Estate Guest House

Karengera Accommodation

Budget Accommodation

Karengera High School

Karengera High School offers you basic but clean and functional accommodation in one of the boarding rooms. This accommodation is very special and offers a memorable experience. Accommodation needs to be pre booked before arrival and food should be pre ordered.

Kumbya Accommodation

Budget Accommodation

Kumbya Retreat Centre

This Christian retreat center is ideally located on a peninsula in a calming and natural setting. Accommodation can be had in one of the cabins and there is also a camping site with service buildings including shower and toilets. There is a bar but food should be pre ordered.

Kumbya Retreat Centre

Accommodation along the Congo Nile Trail
One of the cabins at Kumbya Retreat Center

Kumbya Kivu Life Eco lodge

This lodge on the edge of the lake has wonderful views of the mountains and the bay below. There is a nice place to sit on the tables by the waters edge. Accommodation is in one of the round wooden bungalows. There is a bar overlooking the lake and a restaurant.

Ishara Accommodation

Budget Accommodation

Ishara Beach Hotel

This large complex overlooking the lake offers various forms or accommodation a private beach with a beach bar and large restaurant. You can stay one the wooden beach bungalows on the beach, in one of the rooms in the hotel, or camp at the campsite.

Rusizi Accommodation

High End Accommodation

Mantis Kivu Marina Bay

Large and modern conference hotel with a view of the bay of Lake Kivu outside Rusizi. Nice pool with a pool bar and a modern restaurant.

https://www.mantiscollection.com/hotel/mantis-kivu-marina-bay-hotel/

Mid Range Accommodation

Emeraude Kivu Resort

Comfortable and affordable hotel on the lake front. Nice view of Nkombo and Gihaya Islands and at night the lanterns of the night fishermen light up the bay below.

https://www.emeraudekivuresort.rw/

Budget Accommodation

Peace Guest House

Church-owned accommodation with lake views. Dinner and breakfast is served on the lawn overlooking the lake.

http://www.earpeaceguesthouse.com/


Tags:, , , .
Categories:The Congo Nile Trail, The Congo Nile Trail

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.


Tags:, , .
Categories: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/


Tags:, , , , .
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. 


Tags:, , , .
Categories:Attractions, Hiking, The Congo Nile Trail, The Congo Nile Trail, The Congo Nile Trail, Tours and Activities

× Questions? Ask us here!