Kibuye, the jewel of Kivu

The west of Rwanda is the hidden treasure of Rwanda and Kibuye is its brightest jewel, it is now called Karongi but for the sake of nostalgia, I will call it by its old name. The wonders I saw were amazing, many are yet to be digested and I will reflect further but I was left with one question.

The west of Rwanda is the hidden treasure of Rwanda and Kibuye is its brightest jewel, it is now called Karongi but for the sake of nostalgia, I will call it by its old name.

The wonders I saw were amazing, many are yet to be digested and I will reflect further but I was left with one question.

Why is Kibuye a well-kept secret? This place should be the main attraction and not a side act, Gisenyi is its better known cousin and Cyangugu is the other relation but Kibuye has the best potential.

Gisenyi is lucky to be near the Mountain Gorillas so you can slope down to a beach, Kibuye has no beach but that can be easily made. 

I took the bus because I didn’t know the road well; sometimes there was a sheer drop of almost a kilometre down into a valley so deep, so deep that they are almost in the earth’s crust.

Violent tectonic forces created this land, it pushed the mountains into the valleys, valleys into the mountains, created lakes where there was dry earth and the creation is still going on.

You roll into a cove that is ringed with hotels and exclusive houses, the water is turquoise on a perfect day. When the bay is still, you can see impressions of the buildings reflected in the water like an impressionist painting.

The outcrops of islands that dot the lake are somewhat out of place, as they are hills submerged by the lake.

The story of this place is similar to other tourist destinations in Rwanda, for long they were the exclusive reserve of colonial types and expats.

Other places had roots in spiritual solitude. I stayed at the Bethany Lodge, very affordable, very clean, but somewhat austere as befitting its Presbyterian roots.

The biggest problem in Kibuye is what to do; there are few activities for tourists apart from boat rides.
When you arrive at a hotel you are met with despondency, it is on the faces of all the employees, smiles cost extra.

Despondency from the guard dozing half-asleep picking his nose for hours on end and never finding what was looking for, to the receptionists, to the bar, it is just misery writ on all their faces.

Go to any other lodge or hotel it is the same, we need enthusiasm and smile in our service industry, the person who discovers how to inject that “oomph” or “Umwete” into Rwandans will add billions to our GDP.

I saw a T-shirt saying “Quality is P.r.i.d.e – Personal Responsibility in Delivering Excellence.”

Our tourism industry employs the wrong people, the interview should ask “Can you smile, can you be enthusiastic, and can you take personal responsibility to deliver the best?”

Just when you are so angry at the level of service and apathy on show, Kibuye hits you with a miraculous sight, the sun had a rainbow going all the way around it like a sun disk.

We just sat in utter amazement, I have never seen such a wonder but it is apparently a common sight in the area.

ramaisibo@hotmail.com

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