There’s nothing nicer if you’ve been on the go for a few days than being able to flop on a sandy beach and just relax…
There’s nothing nicer if you’ve been on the go for a few days, trekking up volcanoes and through forests, than being able to flop on a sandy beach and just relax. You wouldn’t think that was possible in a landlocked country, but thankfully Rwanda has Lake Kivu – one of Africa’s biggest lakes – which has a string of lovely beaches along its eastern edge. It’s perfect for swimming, too, because there aren’t any hippos or crocodiles, and the water’s really clear and clean. It’s very popular with the Rwandans, but international travellers haven’t really discovered it yet and it still feels calm and unspoiled and a bit of a clever find.
You can’t come to Lake Kivu and not go out on a boat of some kind, and there are plenty of different trips on offer. On some of them, you literally just go out on the water for a scenic cruise, so look for one that includes stops at some of the most interesting islands. There’s quite a few: Napoleon Island with its huge colony of fruit bats and the occasional African fish eagle, Monkey Island with its population of vervet monkeys, Peace Island with the swimming cows, and a few more. Another great option if you want to spend the day lazing on the beach is a sunset boat cruise: you’re sitting there with a drink, watching the amazing scenery get even more amazing as everything changes colour, and suddenly the local fishermen are going past in their dugout canoes singing their traditional songs. It’s magical.
If you’re feeling a bit more energetic, you could rent a canoe or kayak and have a gentle paddle along the shore. A better option, I’d say, is to head off on an organised tour with an expert guide – you can do anything from a day to a few hours. You get the same feeling of peace just gliding along, but with the benefit of local knowledge. So you’ll visit places and see things you probably wouldn’t be able to find by yourself, whether it’s a particularly lovely hidden bay, a tucked-away fishing village or a spot where you might catch a glimpse of Congo clawless otters.
Or you could stay on land and go hiking or mountain biking along the Congo Nile Trail which stretches all the way along the side of the lake for 140 miles. It would take about five days to cycle the whole thing, and twice as long to walk it, so most people just do a short section. It really takes you into the heart of rural Rwanda, along dirt roads and tracks through the forest, past tea, coffee and banana plantations, and into villages where you can watch daily life just going on. And, of course, you get the most incredible views out over Lake Kivu from almost every bit of it. I’d say it’s well worth getting off your sun lounger for!
Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Vicki, who's travelled extensively in Rwanda. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the guides who track mountain gorillas day and night to ensure you get the best sightings, the Kigalians who'll give you a real insight into their vibrant city and the coffee-growers who'll tutor you in the art of tasting.
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