Traveling is one luxury that my job affords me. My most recent travel experience introduced me to the stunning beauty that lies in the western part of Rwanda, a place I have always yearned to visit. This escape from the hustle and bustle of the city took me on what is now the famous Congo-Nile trail. The geographical wonder that is the Lake Kivu, remains in sight during the entire trail that stretches 227 kilometers from Karongi, Rutsiro, and Nyamasheke to Rusizi.
Karongi is a beautiful district. A description of the district would be incomplete without mentioning the Lake Kivu. The scenic view of the island-dotted Lake will leave many an outdoor aficionados mesmerized.
The five-day hiking experience cannot be captured in words alone but also in song and dance. I arrived in Karongi town early enough to catch the early morning activity as the lake side town awoke from its slumber. The misty view from the lake and the freshness that comes with the early morning breeze was simply invigorating. A boat ride on the Lake was an endless tale of nature at its best.
The pristine cottages that line the shores are a honeymooner’s paradise. Amahoro Island a few kilometers from the lake’s shores is the ideal lover’s escape. With hammocks strewn on different corners of one of the trail base camps, the Island offers a magnificent environment to relax and reflect. Bird life is also rich on the shores.
Hitting the rural earthen roads brings out the true picture of rural Rwanda. The roads are dotted with hundreds of wooden bridges that make crossing a pleasantly scary experience. The terraced undulating hills, the sight of villagers tilling the land, the bliss of children waving at a car passing-by, the village dog chasing behind before giving up as it wheezes, is simply a memorable experience.
With my phone battery dead on day two, the mood was set for the enjoyment of the sights and sounds of the spectacularly lush green countryside without undue interruption. The Congo-Nile divide watershed in Rutsiro district offers fantastic scenery.
The area is held sacrosanct and is a major pilgrimage site for Catholics. A visit to the L’Esperance Orphanage; one of the base camps on the trail reveals a bold desire by authorities to make it self sustaining, this would make it the first of its kind on the continent.
After a rejuvenating and yet adventurous experience hiking on the trail, my entire journey of discovery, a glimpse into life beyond the concrete jungle that is the city, was refreshing.