Karim Gisagara, one of the main brains behind the launch of the Congo Nile Trail three years ago, yesterday reported that some 60 kilometers of the new road, which will eventually connect the entire 227 kilometers of the trail between Kamembe (Rusizi) via Kibuye (Karongi) to Gisenyi (Rubavu) have been completed while work on the other sections is ongoing.
In late November last year, the Rwandan Senate took issue with the slow pace of progress on this crucial road, which not only connects the two ends of Lake Kivu with each other for the ease of local transport and improved trade but is thought to be a crucial tourism road. Rwanda Tourism is keen to diversify the offerings and attractions for tourists, and opening up the shores and islands of Lake Kivu and connecting them with forests like Gishwati and Nyungwe, key attractions for foreign tourists, is the key to bringing more visitors to this part of Rwanda, beyond the main activity being gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park.
Following the Senate’s intervention, the Ministry of Infrastructure has clearly heeded the demands and pushed for the completion of the first section at a faster pace.
Kamembe is connected with Kigali by double daily RwandAir flights and seen as the springboard to Nyungwe Forest National Park, and is also the starting point from where hikers and mountain bikers begin their journey along the shores of Lake Kivu towards Kibuye and Gisenyi. Mountain bikes are available for hire once prior arrangements have been made as are qualified guides and accommodation along the trail ranges from simple but clean base camps to small hotels and lakeside resorts. Three subtrails are now also open, besides 6 main trails into and through Nyungwe Forest National Park, namely the Pfunda, Gisovu, and Shangi trails, which add between 30 and more than 50 kilometers each to the trail distance. They are, however, worth exploring as they open up some of the most scenic sights of Rwanda, otherwise rarely seen but, going by this correspondent’s own experience after several visits to the area, most definitely missed by those coming all the way to Rwanda and “only” seeing the gorillas.