Rwanda launched Congo Nile trail in 2011 and this made it a top walking, cycling and biking destination in Africa. There is no uncertainty that gorilla tourism and gorilla trekking in particular is the most useful tourism resource in the country of Rwanda. Rwanda government should be praised for the great work put in place to ensure diversity in their tourism attractions.
The Congo Nile trail is a 227km trail starting from the northern shores of Lake Gisenyi passing through Lake Kivu and ending in the southern shores of Rusizi district. The Congo Nile trail neither passes through Congo nor anywhere near river Nile but the trail is named after a land mark that separates DR Congo and the Nile rivers. The Congo Nile trail is probably the best biking trials in East Africa.
The Congo Nile trail is the best way to experience the natural beauty and clean air of Rwanda. This trial passes through the beautiful scenery which includes ngungwe forest national park, clear waters of Lake Kivu, Rwanda’s famous rolling hills among others. Scenery aside you get to spot how locals go about their daily business of their banana, tea and coffee plantations. You pass through small shops, towns, waterfalls, markets, fishing villages and valleys with greetings from children and some curious leaders.
On the Congo Nile trail you can decide to stop at mugonero orphanage and get entertained by the local people. The kiziba refugee camps is a home of about 17,000 Congolese refugees and it’s also located near the Congo Nile trail. The end of this trail takes you the very top of Congo Nile.
There are 4 options by travelers of completing the trail. It’s by car, bike, motorcycle and walking. Every method has its own benefits. Walking and biking are tiring but they allow travelers to appreciate the beautiful scenery along the Congo Nile trail and the connect more with the local people. These options are good forms of exercise and can easily allow you to be joined by other travelers not like driving and motorcycling. Walking through the Congo Nile trail can be done in 10 and biking can be completed in 5 days. Take not that there is a rainy season in March to May and October to November which make some parts of the trail muddy and difficult to pass through.
Regardless of the method you choose the pass through the trails, there are always maps available you guide you at Rwanda development board offices located in Kigali. These maps help to point out correct directions, distances, landmarks, interesting places, route changes and time to be taken to pass through a specific section of a trail. A lone traveler staying in Rwanda needs a map, person and self-assurance supplies. High end visitors in Rwanda can hire their own porters, cooks and guides to accompany them through the trail. Visitors coming to Rwanda can use tour operators to organize everything for them on ground before arriving. A tour company helps to arrange porters, guides and other necessities considering your interest, budget and time.
Africa adventure vacations can help you get the right maps, hire mountain bikes. We also have an experience in getting you guides, porters, cooks and transportation to and from the starting and ending points.
Note that the Congo Nile trail passes through sections with different sceneries, some are rocky areas, hilly areas and dusty roads. The trail sections are not flat for long you will be sloping and climbing sharing the road with others before passing through narrow trails.
How to get to the starting point
From Kigali to Gisenyi the starting point of a trail takes you about 3 hours using a bus. If you’re to travel with a bus you will have to tell the bus conductor to get fir you a space for your bike and alternatively a tour operator can book for you a car taking you up to the starting point in Gisenyi and then they will pick you up at the end of the trail.
Renting and purchasing a bike
It’s always costly for an international traveler to move with their own bike. There for a visitor might need to hire or purchase a good mountain bike from any outlet in Kigali or Gisenyi. Inzu lodge rents its bikes ranging from 30 USD to 75 USD a day. Visitors are encouraged to taste their bikes to see if they are in good conditions and if they are comfortable with them. The bike comes with spare parts and a pump.
Level of difficulty of Congo Nile trail
Visitors need to be fit and accustomed to mountain climbing to complete the trail by biking, walking, riding, motorcycling. If you doubt your fitness then you can complete the trail by having breaks as you take part in refreshing and fan activities such as relaxing, boat cruise and canoeing at Lake Kivu, checking out waterfalls and swimming.
Getting water and food
The Congo Nile trail passes through villages, markets, shops and trading centers. The water and food can be purchased from anywhere along the trail. All you need is to recognize the local signs showing food places, shops and other outlets. This is the best time to try out local Rwandan foods.
Accommodation along the Congo Nile trail is easy although most of the travelers prefer setting their own campsites using tents near schools, shops, market and orphanages is it gets dark. Rwanda development board or tour operators arrange and hire tents for those who don’t travel with the right gear. Rwanda development board has built many campsites along the Congo Nile trail and these campsites have tents meaning you only need to travel with light beddings.
Budget travelers can choose from any of the following accommodation along the Congo Nile trail.
Luxury travelers can choose can choose from these high end hotels and lodges
Paradise Malahide in Gisenyi. This is a luxury resort near perfection with fine material and gardens built along Lake Kivu.
Lake Kivu Serena hotel. This is a 4 star hotel with high standards, outdoor swimming pool, a bar and a restaurant.
Cormorant lodge. This is one of the newest lodges on Lake Kivu shores with a view of nyiragongo volcano on DR Congo. This lodge is made up of wood and gives a clear view of Lake Kivu
Moriah hill hotel. This hotel has many rooms with a large balcony giving you great views of Lake Kivu. The visitors to this hotel can visit any of the islands on Lake Kivu using a speed boat.
Gear for the Congo Nile trail
Visitors planning to walk, cycle or bike through Congo Nile trail should have the following items / gears. These include a sleeping bag, bike pump for bikers, a dust mask, extra bike tire, cloths, gloves, toiletries, sunglasses, biking shoes, bicycle, headlamp, biking shoes, camera and helmet
Apart from walking and cycling through Congo Nile trail, travels can combine a cycling tour with any of these activities
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