Welcome to Karongi Destination – Lake Kivu Kibuye
Karongi – Kibuye city lies on the eastern shores of Lake Kivu Kibuye, between Gisenyi and Cyangugu, approximately 135 kilometres (84 mi), by road, west of Kigali, the capital and largest city in the country.
Be prepared to fall on your knees in awe: spread across a series of tongues jutting into Lake Kivu Kibuye (Karongi) is one of the most scenic cities in Rwanda.
The steep hills that fall into the deep green waters and the indented shoreline with a smattering of islands nearby make it extremely picturesque.
It’s a green little town where nothing much seems to happen in a hurry. In short, if you’re after a mellow place to decompress, Kibuye is your answer.
The most conventionally pretty of the lake ports, Kibuye sprawls across a series of hills interwoven with the lagoon like arms of the lake.
With good roads from Kigali this is popular with visitors and Rwandans alike, and at the weekends you’ll find families from elsewhere in Rwanda enjoying the small beaches and swimming in the lake.
Hills planted with pines and eucalyptus give the area a pristine, almost Alpine feel — it’s a green and peaceful place.
Kibuye’s recent past
It is hard to believe, amid today’s tranquillity, that during the genocide the area of Kibuye experienced the most comprehensive killings of Tutsis anywhere in Rwanda.
Near the sports stadium a sign reads ‘More than 10,000 people were inhumated here’. Now birds chirp on the surrounding wall and the laughter of children can be heard in the nearby schools.
Here, as throughout Rwanda, memories of the genocide remain acute but the daily life carries on determinedly around them. Below are some of the things you can do there by yourself:
- Take an hour boat ride around Lake Kivu Kibuye for 15,000 RWF. If you book with local boatsmen instead of your hotel you might get half the price deal. Some take you to small nearby islands from where you can enjoy a nice view and feed a monkey.
- Go swimming at the very small beach at the Moriah Hotel or across the street from Golf Eden Rock Hotel.
- Go swimming anywhere for that matter.
- Visit the genocide memorial and Catholic church at the Home Saint Jean Hotel.
TOURISTS ACTIVITIES IN KARONGI – KIBUYE
1. Eglise st. Pierre:
While a good number of memorials in Rwanda are stark reminders of the past atrocities, the genocide memorial church of St Pierre is a beautiful, calm and evocative testament to the strength of the human spirit.
The interior is adorned with colourful mosaics and vivid stained-glass windows, while outside a small brick annex displays skulls and bones from some of the 11,000 people who were killed by a drunken mob here.
There are no set opening hours or entry fee, but someone is normally available to open up. To find the church, take the first exit from the roundabout at the entrance to the town if you’re arriving from Kigali and you’ll come to the church on your right around 300m up the road.
2. Bisesero Genocide Memorial:
About 30km southeast from Kibuye, the small village of Bisesero is home to stunning scenery and a stirring genocide memorial.
During the early days of the genocide, more than 50,000 Tutsis fled here in the hope of evading the Interahamwe. For more than a month, these brave individuals were able to fend off their aggressors with little more than basic farming implements.
On 13 May, a reinforced regiment of soldiers and militia descended on Bisesero, slaughtering more than half of the refugees. By the time the French arrived on the scene in June, there were fewer than 1300 Tutsis remaining.
3. Environmental Museum:
This smart museum on Kibuye’s lake shore has educational displays about energy sources and the environmental impact of different types of fuel sources.
It won’t appeal to anyone who knows anything about sustainability, but there is an excellent rooftop garden with a collection of native plants, each with explanations of their use in traditional medicine.
4. Ndaba rock and waterfall:
Ndaba Rocks and waterfalls-locally in Kinyarwanda is known as “Urutare rwa Ndaba” is part of the captivating cultural and remarkable historic attraction sites in Rwanda.
Ndaba Rocks and waterfalls is one of Rwanda’s most-visited tourist sites, not just for its appearance but the mythical/legendary stories that surround it and it is situated in Karongi district of Rwanda.
The lake has one of the most beautiful islands, blue water, turquoise water, beach front and you imagine you live in paradise – in a lake blue and crystal clear.
There are extremely beautiful islands that show an endowed beautiful nature of this part of Rwanda. Upon arrival on the lake shores, you will meet young men ready to help you board a boat, to one of the most popular islands, known as Akarwa k’amahoro-Peace Island.
At the island, the paradise of Lake Kivu Kibuye will help you enjoy; mix pleasure and adventure in your holidays. It helps one relax and keep away from bustling city life, in a beautiful virgin beach of Kivu island and self possessed atmosphere.
Akarwa k’amahoro- Peace Island is one of the hidden inside treasure of Lake Kivu Kibuye, allowing you to hike through fishermen’s community and enjoy spectacular basin of the lake.
As you approach the beautiful Peace Island, your eye roams beyond the beaches, and you are struck by the thick green forests that still cover a large part of this Island.
The choice is always yours-you may camp at the island, where during the day you can play beach games or simply lie down and take in the beauty of it all.
If you are a photographic enthusiast, you will not believe the shots you will capture; the sunsets on the beach are extraordinary. The islands here are teaming with all sorts of birds, making them quite the bird watchers dream destination.
Or pick a room at one of the Hotels on the shores of the lake. Some hotels are located on the beachfront allowing for maximum enjoyment of the beach.
This means you will sleep and wake up to the sounds of the lake and depending on the location of your room, enjoy breathtaking views. The treasures of Lake Kivu Kibuye are so enormous that we cannot exhaust them today.
6. Swimming in lake kivu Kibuye
There are many beautiful lakes in East and Central Africa but you cannot swim in most of them. Lake Kivu Kibuye is not only a lake where you can relax and chill out, but you can swim in the Lake.
There are no hippos, crocodiles and no Bilharzia found in Lake Kivu Kibuye making it the perfect natural swim hole.
The temperature at the Lake is just right and the water is not too cold. It is just perfect to dive in get refreshed.
If you prefer to swim in a pool, there are hotels and lodges in the area that have swimming pools. So you will still get you swimming opportunity and relax.
7. Water Sports in Lake Kivu Kibuye
There is a variety of water sports to enjoy in Lake Kivu Kibuye. You can go sailing, kayaking, motor boat riding, fishing, wind surfing, water-skiing and more.
You can also paddle to the nearby island and do some exploration. If you are looking to have fun on water, Lake Kivu Kibuye is just the place for you
Lake Kivu Kibuye is known in Rwanda and with past visitors as a place for excellent water-sport activities and Lake Kivu does not disappoint.
You can even go fishing for some tilapia for lunch or dinner – another relaxing and enjoyable way to enjoy Lake Kivu Kibuye.
8. Hiking and Biking
At Lake Kivu Kibuye you can enjoy half day, or full day hikes and nature walks and bike rides. You can go hiking or biking for one day or several days on the newly developed Nile-Congo trail. As you hike and bike, bike you can also go on village visits and do some cultural tourism and interact with the locals and learn a bit about them.
You can also climb up some hills and back down on your bike. Rwanda is after all the land of a thousand hills, it is inevitable that there are hill near Lake Kivu Kibuye.
9. From Crop to Cup (Tea or Cofee experience)
If you are a coffee or tea lover, you can take the opportunity to enjoy a coffee Tour on your visit to Lake kivu Kibuye.
The half day excursion includes a boat ride on Lake Kivu to different Islands where you learn and take part in the coffee making process from crop to cup.
The washing of the beans is done at the washing stations, then the coffee beans are dried, roasted and ground, and you get to taste the finished product
Many major coffee and tea houses across the world including Starbucks are using Rwandan Arabica Bean Specialty Coffee.
Be sure to buy some and take it home, it will remind you of your Rwanda safari experience every time you take a cup. The experience ends with a pleasant lunch and of course Coffee and/ or tea is served.