Need to loosen up? Take a trip to Kibuye

  • By Dawnn Anderson
  • May 18, 2013
The writer (R) and her colleagues rented a boat and sailed to Amahoro Island. Saturday Times/Dawnn Anderson

While in Kibuye, feel free to visit Butare, Rwanda’s second city, and tour the King’s Palace. You can also visit the National University of Rwanda (NUR).  And when you are ready to end your mini-vacation, know that bus lines run from Kigali to Kibuye and back every hour on the hour. Currently the cost is Rwf3,000.

My trip to Kibuye was the quintessence of perfection – allowing me to reflect on the academic highlights of my stay in Rwanda while enjoying the warmth of the sunrays and cool blue waters.

The trip to Kibuye served as a beautiful getaway with a stress free environment following 4 months of vibrant academic discourse and intense academic research regarding the peace-building and development processes 19 years after the Genocide. It should be understood that this trip was for resting purposes only. Therefore, I took advantage of the opportunities that allowed me to do just that.

As a participant of the SIT (School of International Training) World Learning study abroad programme, I, along with 21 other American University students, traveled to Western Rwanda.

The bus trip from Kaciyru to Kibuye was a pleasant ride, only about 3 hours. It was very calming to see the transition from the busy city to the serene countryside. The breathtaking scenery of the green foliage and trees are quite the distraction. The hills are planted with pines and eucalyptus, which allude to its breathtaking feel.

I was able to enjoy one of my favourite pastimes that included leisure reading. Given the academic nature of our trip between site visits and preparing for daily academic discourse, I found little time for reading anything else. During this trip I started Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven, a best-selling novel and a candid attempt to illustrate a place many dream of reaching during the afterlife.

I would suggest taking a great book along with you or some of your favourite tunes to add to the lighthearted nature of the trip. 

And don’t forget your swimming gear! After arriving at your final destination you will probably spend most of your time swimming in Lake Kivu or one of the nearby beaches. The climate is also a great aspect to the trip, mid-80s in the afternoon cooling down in the evening to the 70s. 

The friendly staff at Centre Bethanie accommodated our stay. The food included a wide range of tasty choices from the self-serve Rwandan buffet complete with jasmine and the choice of chicken, beef, or fish. I must admit the food is very tasty and I went back for a third sharing.

The hotel resort is located along the shore of Lake Kivu and many of the rooms overlook the lake. Aside from Lake Kivu, visitors may travel to Nyungwe Forest and Virunga Volcanoes, two popular attractions surrounding the region. The dry season from June to September is the best time for gorilla tracking in the Volcanoes Park while the wet season is best for tracking chimpanzees in Nyungwe.

Rwanda’s first national park, Virunga, is a popular attraction with over 700 bird species and, of course, gorillas. While in Kibuye, feel free to visit Butare, Rwanda’s second city, and tour the king’s palace. You can also visit the National University of Rwanda (NUR). The SIT programme visited both sites and your stay is sure to be accompanied by an amiable and enthusiastic welcome. 

The three-day trip was comfortable and relaxing, far less productive than our time spent in rigorous learning environments of the former weeks. The coming weeks included field visits to local NGOs in both Rwanda and Uganda, such as Invisible Children, interactive lectures and discussions by distinguished guests such as Pastor Antoine Rutayisire, a major force in the country’s reconciliation efforts.

During the Genocide against the Tutsi more than 10,000 people tragically lost their lives at the sight of Kibuye Stadium alone.

It was hard to fathom how beautiful and peaceful the region is today after Kibuye’s history of 1994.

I was happy to see that the people of Kibuye were able to acknowledge this horrific aspect of the past and still persevere through their everyday lives. Similar to many people in Kigali, the residents of Kibuye who I interacted with relayed the same sweet-natured and placid disposition.

As I lay in my lake-front room that night I realised even the most aesthetically beautiful places have a past.

On our second day, the group rented a boat for 10 people and sailed to one of the surrounding islands, entitled Amahoro Island. For about 10 people per boat we paid Rwf3,000 per person. Fittingly, the literal Kinyarwanda-English translation for Amahoro is peace.

Visitors are invited to swim in the lake, as I would certainly suggest. However, be aware that it is at your own risk.

Visitors can stay at Centre Bethanie for Rwf21,000 per night with 2 beds per room.            

The rooms are comfortable and the resort provides internet access through Wi-fi, at no extra costs.

When you are ready to end your mini-vacation know that bus lines run from Kigali to Kibuye and back every hour on the hour. The cost is currently Rwf3,000.

If its relaxation that you seek, you will definitely find it in Kibuye. I also encourage you to take the time out to learn about the history of Kibuye.

Enlightenment is the perfect companion to relaxation.

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