Destination Kivu Belt

Posts Tagged Hiking

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


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


More information

Contact the organizer


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Categories:Hiking, Tours and Activities

Ibere Rya Bigogwe

06/7/2022 15:58

Ibere Rya Bigogwe

Ibere rya Bigogwe is one of the greenest most spectacular places in Rwanda. The gentle rolling hills have a lush cover of fresh green grass making them a bright green with an almost dreamlike appearance as if from a fairy tale. Apart from a few walking tracks, the hillsides of Ibere rya Bigogwe are dotted with dairy cows busy munching away on the lush green grass. At the base of each green hill is a gentle stream separating it from the next. Ibere rya Bigogwe is a very gentle and dreamy place which will take the breath away from any visitor on a clear day.

Ibere Rya Bigogwe

Ibere rya Bigogwe is a cattle farming region established in the 80s for dairy farming. Today it is one of the largest milk-producing regions of Rwanda. Cows have a very special place in Rwanda both as an economic asset and as a symbol of wealth and social status. Traditionally the reddish Ankole breed of cows was widespread in Rwanda but has been replaced by other breeds which produce more milk. Today, black and white Jersey cows are the most common sight on the green hills of Ibere rya Bigogwe.

Ibere rya Bigogwe Milking
Drinking fresh milk on the green hillsides after a hike. (Photo, Dan Nsengiyumva)

There are many interesting activities for visitors to do in Ibere Rya Bigogwe. You can visit the green hills on your own, but a pre-booking is recommended to get a better experience. Most activities at Ibere Rya Bigogwe are obviously related to cows, but there are also nice trails for hiking and even a rock face used for rock climbing. Milking cows and tasting various dairy products such fresh cheese or Inshyushyu a pasteurized milk served hot are must-do experiences. Visitors also have the opportunity to take part in the specific Rwandan traditions and culture associated with cows and cattle keeping..

Ibere rya Bigogwe Stick Fighting
Traditional Stick Fighting (Photo, Dan Nsengiyumva)

Tending cows in Rwanda has always been the job of special cowboys. Rwandan cowboys have lived their lives next to the cows for centuries, watching over them, milking them and making sure that they are safe and healthy. Since cows do little else than eat and sleep, Rwandan cowboys have a lot of free time on their hands.  During the centuries, certain games, songs and stories developed amongst the cowboys to pass the time. At Ibere Rya Bigogwe, visitors are welcome to join traditional cowboy games such as high jumping and stick fighting. The cowboys will also recite traditional stories and sing songs as part of the old Rwanda traditions and culture linked with cows

Ibere Rya Bigogwe Hiking
Easy hiking at Ibere Rya Bigogwe (Photo, Dan Nsengiyumva)

There is the possibility to stay over night or over an entire weekend at Ibere rya Bigogwe. Tents are available for hire and you will be served fresh hot food. Nights are spent under the stars in front of the fire with the cowboys telling tales of ancient stories, singing songs and reciting poems while drinking warm milk from traditional wooden gourds. Visitors who stay over several days will can use one of the many hiking trails to explore the green hills. The views are incredible and on a clear day one will see Mt. Sabinyo in the north and Mt. Nyiragongo in the South. The lush short grass makes it easy to move around and in the few hills which are covered in forest have excellent trails for hiking.  

Ibere rya bigogwe camping
Camping at Ibere rya Bigogwe (Photo, Dan Nsengiyumva)

Contact Information and Booking

Ibere rya Bigogwe is an area of green lush hills off the RN4 main road halfway between Rubavu and Musanze with roughly 1 hour travel distance from each town. Visit Bigogwe is a company who organize various tours and activities for visitors. 

Good to know:

  • It is advised to bring raincoats or windproof jackets and hiking boots. The sun can be very strong. Walking sticks are available to borrow.

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Lake Kivu Napoleon Island

Napoleon Island

Napoleon Island, the most popular island on Lake Kivu is located outside Karongi. Place for hiking and home to 40,000 fruit bats

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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.

Read More

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Categories:Attractions, Community Tours, Destinations, Hiking, 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.



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


More information

Contact the organizer


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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.

Read More

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Moriah Hill

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Budget Accommodation

Peace Guest House

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

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Categories:The Congo Nile Trail, The Congo Nile Trail

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Country Side Tours Rwanda​

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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