Rubavu: Exploring Rwanda’s popular holiday destination

There is no doubt that Rubavu is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. For those who have been there, it’s easy to understand why most people prefer Rubavu to unwind and soak in some fresh air.

There is no doubt that Rubavu is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. For those who have been there, it’s easy to understand why most people prefer Rubavu to unwind and soak in some fresh air.

As part of their campaign to popularize domestic tourism, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) recently took local tourists and journalists to Rwanda’s north western district to explore the country’s unique tourist sites.

 
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The district’s name originates from Rubavu Mountain. Rubavu which means a rib, was named so because “A rib is an indispensable part of a person” according to local residents.

 

The proximity to gorilla viewing in the Volcanoes National Park and across the DRC border in the Virunga National Park, positions Rubavu as an alternative accommodation base for leisure travelers in search of the region’s premier attraction.

 
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Being near to Goma, a major city in Eastern DR Congo, also makes Gisenyi town a service gateway offering first-rate hospitality, banking, retail, transport and other services associated mainly with the cross-border trade.

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Journalists and tourists disembark from a boat. / Photos: Nadege Imbabazi

Hiking along Congo Nile trail, Mount Rubavu Climbing, Gisenyi city tour, kayaking, boat riding, fishing, hot spring tour, coffee and tea tour, ecotourism in Mukura-Gishwati Park, historical and cultural experience are among the recreational activities that tourists experience in Rubavu.

After the tour, tourists were left with an indelible memory of the beauty of Rubavu. Needless to say, the trip was so breathtaking that everyone wishes for a come again.

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The things that make Rubavu unique are not only the place itself but also the along the road to the district and the surroundings.

Along the way to Rubavu, tourists saw different things that include mountains as well as the chain of Volcanoes and rivers.

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We started to feel a different environment right from the beginning of the journey at Shyorongi where we saw monkeys along the road.

As we drove westward, we crossed through curled roads in the North, where most of the thousands hills that Rwanda is renowned for probably reside. Meanwhile, some of our colleagues engaged us with humour that left our ribs cracking.

As we climbed Buranga hills, Kabuye Mountainin Gakenke district, one of the highest in the country, appeared few miles away from the road.

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Everyone listened attentively as the guide us about the mountain and the mysterious cave at the top of it.

The cave is said to be so long that nobody knows its size. An unidentified man once sent a dog in the cave and the dog was found dead far away in Lake Ruhondo.

We made a stopover at Nyirangarama, a popular roadside shop where all passengers get out for relieving themselves and buying foodstuffs.

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It was also impressive to see the splendid beauty of the breast or“ Ibere rya Bigogwe”, a rocky mountain in Rubavu.

We also passed by Muhungwe, the highest mountain in the country. The mountain is part of the chain of mountains that make up Congo-Nile trail. Sebeya River that pours into Lake Kivu and crossesto the Rusizi was seen sideways the road.

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We had a panoramic view of beautiful hills of Gishwati forest with a charming nature of trees and green pastures.

Boat ride to Kimbiri

When we boarded a boat of 130-person capacity, everyone appeared amazed at that unseen experience. We put on life jackets and headed to Kimbiri to see the traditional coffee processing in the area. The scenic view in the lake made the one-hour journey shorter.

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The further we moved offshore, the more new things we discovered and the more excited we got. With the beautiful hills in Rwanda and on the other side of the border, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, tourists never wanted to miss anything. While some watched the beautiful islands in the lake, others followed the traces of the boat and tried to be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a fish. Everyone wanted to be in the position to see everything easily but we were told to avoid concentrating on one side to keep boat balance.

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Inside the lake, tourists saw the methane gas extracting machines and were surprised to see how stable those machines are but confused about how they are tied deep in the lake.

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Tourists were contented to sail in the lake with the companion Rwanda Defense Forces’ marines from the beginning to the end.

We not only savoured the beauty of Lake Kivu but also the flavorsome coffee of Kimbiri that is made traditionally. Most of the local farmers grow coffee but without consuming it. Locals came up with the solution to make coffee in an easy and traditional way through milling and winnowing and frying it.

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We also saw the Rwanda’s oldest brewery, BRALIRWA. As we rowed back headily to the shores of the lake, we had become less curious and sat inside to watch TV installed in the boat. Fishermen had also started fishing in crews as it got dark.

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In the evening, music enthusiast enjoyed the sunset beach party while others warmed themselves with traditional fire that was set at the place. Afterward, we left and went in our respective hotels. The hotels that accommodated us are world-class.

Waters ports in Lake Kivu

Gisenyi town has the most popular beach in the country at the shores of Lake Kivu, the largest water body in the country. The beach is busy with people from all walks of life, some enjoying water while others are spectators who come just to watch the spectacular performances of others and see the beauty of the lake.

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While some of us were swimming, those who didn’t know how to swim still had a lot to choose on the menu such as kayaking, and boat riding, stand up paddle boarding, and peddle boat, beach volleyball, among the activities that tourists enjoyed on the second day.

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Many enjoyed sunbathing at the beach while drinks and snacks are served for those who got thirst.

Climbing Mount Rubavu

Gisenyi city is located at the heels of Mount Rubavu.

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At the top of the mountain, you can entirely see the town of Gisenyi, Lake Kivu as well as the neighboring city of Goma. The mountain has interesting history as it had the bases of Germans during their battles with Belgians in the First World War.

There is also rock climbing sport at the mountain.

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Linda Mutesi, who is in charge of tourism marketing at Rwanda Development Board said the Tembera u Rwanda campaign has generated local interest.

“The public knows there is a lot to see but they didn’t know how to do it. In this campaign, we have seen a lot of interest from the public. We are still working in progress but we have created awareness and we have several other plans laid out for the next year and we hope that this awareness will be a call to action for more people to visit.

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Currently, 72000 local tourists visit national parks every year apart from other attraction sites. We hope that the number can more than double.

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