Sometimes you don’t have much time to get outside of the city, maybe you’re on a business trip or your vacation time won’t let you be great. Lucky for you, Rebecca Crook aka @stickylittleleaves has scouted out the best way to escape Kigali on to greener (and bluer) pastures out in Gisyeni.
Lush rolling hills give way to tranquil waters in the beautiful lakeside town of Gisenyi just 3 hours east of Kigali. For less than five USD, take a bus from Kigali to enjoy a piece of paradise. Buses leave every thirty minutes from the Nyabugogo terminal and arrive in Gisenyi three and a half hours later. I much preferred taking the bus to hiring a taxi as it is a fraction of the cost (100 USD for a private car) and experienced drivers are a perk on the winding hilly roads.
Once you arrive on the banks of Lake Kivu, here’s the best way to make use of your time:
12 pm Arrive on bus from Kigali
You can easily hire a taxi from the bus rank. Get off at the first bus stop, as it is closest to hotels.
1 pm Lunch at Waterfront Resort Lake Kivu
Try the Chicken 65 or biryani! Patricia, the owner, imports her spices from India for the best Indian food in town.
3 pm Swim in the turquoise waters of Lake Kivu.
I know they say don’t swim after lunch but trust me it’s so relaxing it will not faze you one bit.
5 pm Sunset Boat ride
Boats can be hired from most hotels or from the public beach front in town, next to the Serena Lake Kivu. I brought a beer and enjoyed the calm waters and a hidden natural hot spring on the tour around the lake.
7 pm Dinner at Paradis
Restaurant and hotel near Waterfront; the perfect place to watch the sunset. They also have a fire pit and free wi-fi.
9 pm New Beach Tam Tam
Laid-back beachfront bar with music and foosball
After breakfast and before the bus trip back to Kigali, explore town. I was fascinated by the DRC/Rwanda border, where over 25,000 people pass through each day, primarily for trade.
Other highlights include perusing the market (beautiful cloth), and strolling the public park and beach, where divers jump from the pier.
You will head back to Kigali, relaxed and restored by the beauty of Gisenyi and its people!
Accommodation: We highly recommend staying at the Waterfront Resort, as the food, service and beauty are unparalleled. For those looking to camp, Inzu Lodge offers tents just up the road.
Night life: Gisenyi’s night life is quite sleepy during the week. If you expect a bustling night out on the town, Friday and Saturday night
MORE THINGS TO CHECK OUT
Coffee cooperative tour
During the dry season, at sunset get a view of the glowing volcano. In the rainy season, it is often overcast and you will not be able to see anything
Tour the local brewery
Have more time? Take a few days to cycle the famous Nile Congo Trail