(R)Wanderer Diaries: Things to do on a 1 day trip to Karongi (West)


This is the second last installment of this series. Hope you enjoy!


On my trip to Rwanda, I was only able to have a total of one day in Karongi, located in the Western province as the rest of the time was spent traveling. However, it definitely wasn’t a wasted trip. In that time, my friends and I were able to visit two places:

  1. Museum of Environment

Located a few minutes from Karongi city centre, the museum opened in 2015 and is the only one of its kind on the continent. It lives up to its name, with a pristine green compound teeming with all sorts of plants and trees, all carefully selected, both for decoration and for their medicinal purposes. To top it all off, the entire building is strategically positioned on the shores of Lake Kivu, and from the roof, once can see the sun reflect on the calm waters. It makes for a perfect photo-taking session with friends. The whole tour costs 1000RWF, however, one is not allowed to take pictures inside the museum itself, only outside and in the reception area.

Inside the museum is a lesson on geography, history, environmental science etc. It is an information hub presented in three languages (Kinyarwanda, French and English) on energy sources on earth and how human beings should use them while still conserving the environment. The study is not confined to Rwanda, but draws examples from all over the world.

On the rooftop is a garden with a variety of exhibitions of traditional medicinal plants, all neatly labelled with the scientific name, local name and its uses. The guide is friendly and will answer any questions you might have about all the things on display. The traffic is slow so you will probably have the museum to yourself when you visit.


Guide explaining uses of plants on roof garden, Museum of Environment, Karongi – Photo credits: Soila Kenya


Museum of Environment, Karongi – Photo credits: Soila Kenya

  1. Lake Kivu – 15 islands

Another trip to The Lake. But it is well worth it as from this point, one is able to take a boat ride for 10,000RWF per hour and visit the islands littered around the lake.

This is an activity best done with friends as there are many opportunities to take photos. The views are spectacular as you can see numerous hills in the distance and the lake extends beyond where your eyes can follow.

The boat makes stop-overs at some of the islands, depending on how many hours you are able to pay for. Examples include Napoleon island which is a bird watching site and we got to see bats circling around at 12 noon. The island is in the shape of a mound and takes a bit of work to walk up. However, its white shores are magnificently beautiful as the moss and algae gather where the land meets the water to create a green ring around the shore.

Another island is Monkey island where we got a glimpse of a rare, newly discovered breed of monkey called the Lesula monkey. It is only the second new species of monkey to be discovered in Africa in the last 28 years. Its unique feature is its brilliant blue testicles, noticeable from a distance. It came to our boat with the promise of bananas from the guide then quickly ate and scurried away.

The last island we docked at was Peace island which used to have a bar that was closed down by the government. The trees at its shore make for a brilliant canopy to take pictures.

The whole journey is a very calming experience as one can doze while the boat steadily moves through the waters.


Fresh waters of Lake Kivu, Karongi – Photo credits: Minnie Gitonga


Lesula Monkey on the shores of Monkey island on Lake Kivu, Karongi – Photo credits: Soila Kenya


On a boat visiting the 15 islands on Lake Kivu, Karongi – Photo credits: Minnie Gitonga


View from top of Napoleon island, Lake Kivu, Karongi – Photo credits: Soila Kenya

Catch my last piece on Kigali city in the Involvement Newspaper.

This marks the end of the series 😀


What to know in your 20’s…

After forever and a day, I’m back bi****s!!!! *dramatic hair flip* And it’s my birthday to boot so happy birthday to me! 🙂

I’ve finally reached the big -two-oh- and as my friend put it, I’m two decades old now! Other than the existential crisis I’m going through due to the realization of this fact, though, I’m doing fine…sort of.

20 KID

So today I thought I’d give some advice to people turning twenty and how their lives will change (not) due to the inevitable turning of the clock. There exist a billion and one of these articles and I decided to give the world my own two cents. So whether your 20+ or still haven’t reached this (supposed) milestone, please read on…

On being responsible

OK, so let’s just be honest. If you were an immature baby last night at 11:59pm, trust you me, that’s not going to change once the clock strikes 12:00am on the day of your 20th birthday. As you blow out those 20 birthday candles, you ain’t also blowing away your baby-self. It’s still there! You actually have to make a conscious decision to change, or NOT to change like me 🙂 FYI I’m going to officially be telling everyone I’m 18 so…Plus I actually look 15/16 so it’s not such a big deal *big smile*

On relationships

Your barely existent not-worth-mentioning love life is going to remain just as it is. So sorry to say…OK, I’m not, not really. But it’s the harsh truth and I’m a realist -_-. Don’t be deceived that some wondrous prince is going to come and sweep you off your feet. He’s not. Because technically speaking there are only 26 countries left in the world with actual monarchies and of the ‘princes’ who exist, i.e. the sons of the king and not brothers/uncles etc of the king, none of them know you exist and it’s highly unlikely that they’ll EVER know you exist sooo…*deep breath* Yeah, anyway, the point is this area of your life is ALSO not going to change overnight. So just chillax. Learn how to cook and become less women-empowerment-y *ducks to avoid rotten eggs* These things will actually help you. Yes, even the last one, you’ll realize. It’s a fact that at some point he’ll get tired of hearing about it. Especially if he’s the macho type that most women, including you (but excluding me), want. Jussayin’

On career

Don’t kid yourself here. Mot of us will not end up working in the line of work we’re studying for so just take it easy. Be open minded. In fact, statistically speaking, most of us will end up as business men/women. However, unless you’re Justin Beiber, your success won’t happen over night. So now that you can sing/have a start-up/rap/DJ stop bragging to everyone who is willing to listen about how you’ll still remember them when you’re famous in Hollywood. Riiiight…because we totally believe that. Not.

On articles about “What to know in your 20’s’

Avoid them like the plague!!! Just do what you want with your life. Our ancestors didn’t have them and they seemed to turn out just fine. They tell you obvious things anyway like how you should network, read a lot, build meaningful relationships, eat well, take care of your body etc. As if you didn’t already know that! Don’t be fooled. Even the person who wrote that didn’t do many of those things. They set an impossible standard. Sometimes you just want to pig out on the most unhealthy food and date the guy you know is completely wrong for you. Just do it. It’s never that serious. Unless of course he’s actually a raving lunatic who murders you in your sleep. In which case you should utterly disregard this article and CARE A LOT. But I digress.


The point I’m trying to make is, just chill and take life easy. Age is but a number and as much as I’m saying I’ll be telling people I’m 18, I’m not ashamed of my age really. Like seriously, wharevs. There are bigger things to worry about.


You did, didn’t you.


So, funny story.

Before I started blogging, all I knew is, its a thing I wanted to do. Period. I didn’t know too much about what I wanted to write, or how I wanted it to look. So I had to start from the start.

One of the things I hate most about writing (why am I doing it then?) is coming up with titles for things. I suck at it. In fact, I took 4 days longer than I should have just to come up with the title of this update, and as I write this, I still don’t have a title, but I thought, ‘Oh what the heck, it’ll come to me. Hopefully.’ Anyway, back to what I was saying.

Yeah, I suck at titling things and the biggest decision I had to make in order to start a blog is the blog’s name of course. It had to be unique enough that if anyone said it, that’d be the only thing to think of, so names like ‘cosmic convergence’ and ‘undercover rockstar’ where thrown out the window. Those were actual considerations, by the way. Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking either. Thank God some kind souls talked me out of them.

But knowing names like ‘cosmic convergence’ and ‘undercover rockstar’ are less than unique and appealing didn’t help me come up with one that was.

Then the ‘Eureka!’ moment came in the most unexpected way.

I had set the debut for my blog to be January 1st 2015, nice and dramatic…

OK, more like I have intense memory problems and I just wanted an easy date to remember. *shifts awkwardly from foot to foot*

Anywho, for the Christmas holiday of 2014, my mum and I visited some family friends who live at the coast. We were staying at their house for about a week. It was awesome time to chill, breathe in water rather than drink it and not be around young people who want to explore and be generally active from dusk till dusk. Instead I got a lot of reading done (bite me). Started and finished the Divergent series.

Tris dies at the end.

No apologies for the spoiler, in case you’re wondering, otherwise I would have edited it out, obviously. Actually I’m evilly laughing in your face. In my head.

In that one week, I had to think of a name for the blog and it turned out to be easier than I thought. Under a pile of equally boring, possibly never-read-before and dusty books in their sitting room, was one really red one. That’s what I remember most about it. It was medium sized, too. Not too big or anything. However, my eyes landed on one thing. It’s name, written in big block letters: The Big Short.

End of story, I think you can fill in the rest from there.

Until recently when my world came crashing down. Well, not really, but it sounds better that way. A once unknown un-cared-about book became a Hollywood blockbuster with literally ALL big name actors you can think about in it. Former Batman, former guy from the Notebook, former Mr. Smith, former leader of the Minions. I mean, c’mon!!!

It may or may not please you to know that before this monstrosity of a motion picture took to the screens, my blog name was literally the first thing that came up when you searched ‘thebigshort’. Not even the damn book! Only for me to be unexpectedly steamrolled by the biggest brain washer of men and women of all races. Until the invention of Facebook, of course. I’m talking about Hollywood, by the way.

So that, ladies and gents is the story of my subtle but quite interesting rise and swift, brutal fall.

But was I going to remain downtrodden by unfair forces of the universe? No way! In the wise words of Gloria Gaynor,

I will survive.

And so I’ve renamed my blog to something that cannot and (by God) will not be overridden by something bigger of a similar name.

Let it be so.


New colour scheme and everything. And new theme! (it’s an addiction now honestly)

It’s pronounced Soila, just a different spelling to distinguish me from all the other Soilas out there (Cheers!)

Oh wait,now I have to go and change my name on all my social media.

Crap. Hadn’t thought of that.


The Blue City, Team Building Exercises and The Life of a Fugitive

The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.

Never have these words spoken to me more than they did this weekend.

I mean, I’m sure at some point I’ve felt how I’m feeling now but this is the most recent…event.

So another weekend, another adventure and I was off to The Blue (and white) City of Chefchaouen.


It truly is magnificent.

It’s just so different but what surprises me most is the fact that the locals have kept with the colour schemes all these years. Well, I guess it’s their pride now. There were TONS of tourists so business must be good.

The views are amazing…


It’s just…wow. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s definitely one of the must see places in Morocco. These northern cities of Morocco really have their own special charm. And they were colonized by the Spanish so maybe that’s why all these many years later you can detect a change from the other Moroccan cities.

Apparently the Spanish painted the city blue when they invaded but don’t quote me, I just heard this story, I’m not too sure why or how. Either way, it’s a good thing they did. We spent our first day there exploring the city and drinking in the sites…

IMG_1874 IMG_1877 IMG_1886 IMG_1891 IMG_1923 IMG_2172

Then the next day after a few complications we were off to Akchour a small city where all our wills were tested. We had to hike a ‘long’ distance to see a waterfall and it was really hot and everything but were cool with this so we went. Unfortunately, we didn’t know exactly how long was ‘long’ and it ended up taking us 3 bloody hours to reach the damn waterfall.


3 hours!!! It was tough going and that’s where the beginning of this post comes from. We lost hope countless times, almost gave up and just generally had low spirits but when we got there we were really proud of ourselves.


Heading back took another 2 hours though so that was less time but it was fine because we knew what to expect.


What I learned on this trip however is that I have the ability to sleep even less time then I thought. I slept a total of like 5 hours in total considering both journies to and from Casa we made in the night and arrived in the morning so obviously sleeping on a bus doesn’t really count. So basically, from thinking I’m an insomniac, I now know I’m a SUPER insomniac 🙂

We learn new things about ourselves every day.

Now, about my life as a fugitive…

I had a visa for one month and obviously that expired a..while ago but it’s taken ages to sort everything out and I’m in the clear but still technically on my visa in my passport I’m still illegally here. Let me tell you, going to the police station in a foreign country is…cool/scary. It;s cool cause I just imagine all the crime shows and movies I’ve watched and imagine all sorts of scenarios involving me and the police. But then there’s also the possibility of me being thrown in jail forever…so yeah. I took the trip there with the Consul of Kenya though so it wasn’t as bad. But I need to go back once more and I don’t know how I’m going to manage. I think I’ll just tag someone along…

Anyway, my time here is drawing to a close. Only 11 days left!

The countdown begins.

Ramadan is ending and I need to go shopping before the awesome 70% sales finish!! And then it’s Id which I might spend in Marrakesh 🙂 Should be interesting. The whole of next week I’ll take off to travel (yes, there’s still places I’ve not been to in this overly-touristic country). Hopefully I’ll reach the Sahara at least.

My host family is traveling next week so I’m homeless 🙂 Well technically I’ll be traveling the whole week too but still…:) Just keep smiling I guess. Keep tuned for the end of my #talesfromMorocco series. Can’t believe I’m almost gone. And then school will start like 3 weeks after I start…

Ok, ok, I’ll just not think about it.

Hope I’ll be able to post at least once before I’m back in Nairobi.


Big Love!



All great books, movies, anime/manga and any other source of great stories all have one thing in common: They either have a great beginning, or a great ending or both. As I sit here and write this on the 1st of January 2015, I am sleep deprived from New Year’s celebrations and am extremely tired. I am currently seeing double and all I would like to do is sleep. You have no idea how much I just want to sleep. Is that too much to ask? Well apparently, ’cause alas! here I am writing. And all because I just had to insist on adding an element of drama and deciding to have my first blog post be on the 1st of January of a new year. To add insult to puss-spewing, fungal-infected injury, I’ve practically told everybody (well, the few people who asked…but still!!) that I would be starting it on this day. So in order not to seem like an inconsistent little child of God, I had to live up to that expectation. And again, here I find myself.
Bearing all this in my sleep-deprived mind, I realised there was logically no way for the story of TheBigShortBlog to have a ‘great beginning’. I am not at 100% right now, I’m not even at 50 or 30 or 20%. So where am I, you ask? I’m actually nowhere on the charts running from 1-100%. I’m lagging behind in the negatives and the precise digits are too horrifying to reveal to the reader. [Cue PG 13 Rating]
I am now seeing in threes.
However, I am sure once I sleep (and wake up and belatedly realise that it’s 2015 and I started my blog and posted this nonsense onto the internet for the world to see and proceed to have an exceedingly out-of-character hissy fit and crawl under my bed in shame to consort with the dust bunnies) that I shall come up with amazing content for you guys to read, comment, share about that will shape up the out-of-body experience that I have planned out for you, dear reader. Yes, I am just that thoughtful. I aim for a ‘great ending’ then, something I will be proud of one day and look back and say, “Not bad, shrimp, not bad.” (No I don’t actually call myself ‘shrimp’ in my head. Who does that?! If you do exist out there, please know you need psychological help.)
What is the blog about, though? And why should you give Soila Kenya the time of day anyway?
I will be posting on;
• Photography
• Writing
• Art
• Videography and video making
• Music
• Crochet
This is basically a list of my interests and the main aim of this blog is to help me grow in these non-academic pursuits. Out of the 6 listed items, I’m sure at least one caught your fancy. I’m a one-stop shop for tips, entertaining news and anything connected to these things. So don’t hesitate to be visiting my blog for weekly updates on any of the mentioned items! Most exciting for me will be the book I will be updating on the blog weekly (hopefully!). Make sure to check it out!
As I wind up (finally!) I just want to give the conclusion that because I realised that the blog is incapable of having a ‘great beginning’ then I would at least try to write something that would not make me cringe when I read it a year or two later.
I have failed at that too.
So then I decided to just write the damn ‘Welcome-to-my-blog-we’re-gonna-have-a-grand-time-la-di-da’ message so I can go to sleep.
I didn’t want to write the message in advance because I wanted to ‘sound original and fresh and young’. I have only achieved sounding sleep-deprived and stale and not-so-young and sleep-deprived.
Oh, and did I mention I’m sleep-deprived and I want to sleep?
Ok, so this is turning out to be less of a welcoming message and more of the tirades of a sleepy person. I think it’s time to stop. Go on over to the other pages and check out the content I have prepared for you in each section.
I am now, in fact, not really seeing at all.
Big Love! (I know that may seem like a lie right now, but somewhere deep in the recesses of my soul I think there might still be vestiges of an emotion akin to affection for all the people reading this…even though they are,in fact, the very same culprits keeping me from my comfy, comfy bed. I say ‘in fact’ a lot. So sue me.)