Lush rolling hills give way to tranquil waters in the beautiful lakeside town of Gisenyi just 3 hours east of Kigali. For less than 5 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 a 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.
The epic-ness that is Chicken 65 at the Waterfront Resort Lake Kivu
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.
Watching them get their swim on!
5 pm - Sunset Boat ride
Boats can be hired from most hotels or from the public beachfront 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.
Our boat heading back to the shores of the Waterfront Resort Hotel
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
The staff at the Waterfront Resort starting the day with smiling faces.
8 am - Breakfast at Waterfront
Made to order omelettes, waffles and ice cream, and fresh fruit juices
Me — feeling extra “iron-man”!
9 am - Mountain biking and boat tour
Rwandan Adventures is located across from Waterfront and has customizable biking and boat tours varying on rigour and time available.
Call: +250 786 571 414 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to book in advance. You can also find a special perk in the #tstmkrsapp (sign up to be a beta tester)
3 pm - Swim at the Serena pool
Order a drink and the pool and beach are all yours.
7 pm - Dinner at White Rock
Delicious food, lovely owner.
Ending the day with a Primus, a beer brewed in neighbouring DR Congo
9 pm - Go out at New Paris or Chez Nyanga
Music, dancing, drinks
After breakfast and before the bus trip back to Kigali, explore the town. I was fascinated by the DRC/Rwanda border, where over 25,000 people pass through each day, primarily for trade.
Rwanda has some beautiful fabrics and tapestries, be sure to ask for the authentic styles which are heavier
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.
Nightlife: Gisenyi’s nightlife is quite sleepy during the week. If you expect a bustling night out on the town, Friday and Saturday nights are best.
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