Tag Archives: Gisenyi

A Mountain Detour and an Italian

Our journey back to Kigali was straight forward enough. Having decided against the Congo / Nile Trail as the roads were quickly becoming impassible (we started along it and quickly gave up – having had some unfortunate recent experiences!), we returned via the route from whence we came. 

   

  

  
    
    
    
    
 However, and hour or so in and seeing signs to Volcano National Park we decided to turn left. The next hour or so took us up into the mountains skirting the edge of the park and gave us some excellent scenery. The road itself remained good and doubled back to our original route puting us about 10K further back. It was worth the diversion and provided an interesting view of rural Rwanda.  

    
    
 
  



 Later we passed and explored a rope suspension bridge. 

    
    
   
Stopping in Ruhangeri we found virtually all the shops and businesses closed or closing. We managed to get a lunch order in for Brochette (meat kebab) and chips at a small bistro/bar before it too closed. Here in Rwanda they are observing a National Week of Mourning in commemoration of the 1994 Genocide. In this annual event the Rwandans gather at  memorials to remember their loved ones, this daily event closes businesses early in the afternoons with some re-opening in the evenings. We saw many Rwandans walking from these ceremonies as the finished or gathered in specific locations in every village and town. 

  
Approaching our destination we got some excellent views from the top of the ridge as we descended down towards Kigali. 

   
Reaching the Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel our only frustration was the poor parking of other guests who made it impossible  to park inside. Seemingly unwilling to move their vehicles we unloaded and headed out to a fabulous Italian Restaurant (Sole Lunar) possible the nearest good Italian Restaurant to Mwanza (another 13 hours journey away).   


    
Tomorrow we head home. We have greatly enjoyed our first family  trip to Rwanda and hope to be back soon.

A Boat Trip to the Hot Springs

One of the things we wanted to do whilst here in Gisenyi was to take a trip to the Hot Springs. A result geological conditions here in the Rift Valley and the location on the volcano ( Mt Nyiragongo) super heated water emerges from the rocks on the coast of Lake Kivu where it mixes with the lake waters.

Initially we intended to walk to the Springs (a 4 hour round trip) but whilst on the beach we encountered a man with a boat and negotiated a trip by water – much more relaxed. It also gave us a chance to view the coast from out in the lake, including the massive Nyiragongo Volcano across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – see previous post

Our trip took a circuitous route out past the gas drilling platform avoiding it’s pipeline before heading around the coast.

Rounding the peninsular we approached a fishing village, this was also the location of the hot springs where we disembarked. Walking to the Spring we were shown to a bench and placed our feet on rocks in the hot waters of the lake, which had been cordoned off by sanbags. Two ladies then began a massage of arms and legs using the hot water which they rubbed onto the skin. The water in this pool was very warm – the temperature of a hot bath. There were other springs on land which were scaldingly hot as well as some in the lake which bubbled up into the lake water making the waters warm. After the massage we made our way to a second pool where I went for a dip in warm water – I will spare you the close up pictures!

The springs are sited opposite the local brewery which we passed upon our return. The boat sailed back past the peninsular and gas rig and on to the Congolese border before returning to the beach. Our return gave use excellent views of the Volcano plus a front row seat of a thunderstorm.

    
 

Living under a Volcano!

Gisenyi and the neighbouring city of Goma across the border in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) lie on the shores of Lake Kivu. Both of these cities are located below Mount Nyiragongo – one of 37 active volcanoes worldwide and located in the DRC.

Much of our time here in Gisenyi it has been hidden by mist but yesterday we were able to see it on a boat trip out in the lake.

  
In the night the volcano looks even more impressive with it’s red halo formed by the reflection of light from its enormous lava lake on the clouds of steam above.

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Nyiragongo is one of the world’s most active volcanoes at the moment and it’s lava lake is one of the largest.

On the Rwandan side of the border there seems little threat from this giant, but Goma has been affected as recently as 2002 with fast flowing lava streams leading to loss of life. Apparently the lava is so runny  it can flow at 100kph. Thankfully for now the lava remains in the crater lake.

Pictures (not mine) can be seen here.

One effect that does occur on our side of the border is the presence of hot springs which we visited yesterday and form part of the next blog post.

Gisenyi Beach Hotel

We’re here for four days in the Discover Rwanda- Gisenyi Beach Hotel. We booked this place on a last minute deal with Expedia and we’re really pleased with our choice.
    
This old colonial house is part of a group of hotels run by the Discover Rwanda Group which is linked to AEGIS Trust a charity supporting the country following the 1994 Genocide. They also run the Youth Hostel where we stayed in Kigali and the Genocide Memorial in Kigali. From AEGIS’s own blog the following quotation 

Through the Museum Cafe, the Museum Gift Shop and the Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel we offer beneficiaries career opportunities in various industries by providing training in high-demand areas such as tourism, customer care and the culinary arts. We are committed to providing top-level training in skills that will create the best career opportunities for our beneficiaries and put 100% of the proceeds back into Aegis’ continued work in Rwanda

This also applies to our location too. We’re in a family room with a great view overlooking the garden towards the beach. 

  

  

 Gisenyi Beach Hotel has a relaxed home from home feel. A place to chill and unwind. 

   

     

  

  

 Food is excellent and in the evening as it cools to a chilly 21°C (for us that is cool!) they light the open log fires.  

   
 The hotel is a stone’s throw from the beach, just beyond the palms which are alive to the chatters of the hundreds of fruit bats hanging in the branches. The noise is actually quite soothing as you drift into sleep.   

   
The waters of Lake Kivu are warm and though the sand beneath makes the water brownish the lake is clean. 

   

Road to Gisenyi / Weekly Photo Challenge: Rwandan Landscape 2

This second submission to this week’s photo challenge: Landscape fits in nicely with our Rwandan Travelogue so a combined post.

The journey North West from Kigali towards Gisenyi takes you up and up through the mountains. Well maintained throughout this road takes about three hours to travel and the scenery is breath taking. As you climb you come across terraced hills (coffee and/or tea plantations) and cultivated values. The road undulates but eventually reaches just under 2500m. The  hills above are cultivated so that almost every square meter is given over to agriculture up to 3000m or so.


The roads are full of bikes some towed others walked and some ridden laboriously uphill but reaching great speeds on the downhill runs, heavy laden at 80km+.


Eventually a series of steep descents into the Rift Valley bring you to Lake Kivu and the town of Gisenyi (Rubavu).