(R)Wandarer Diaries: 5 must-see places in Musanze (North)

Hello!

Let the journey continue. To the North we go!

Musanze is a cosy agricultural town in the Northern part of Rwanda. Compared to Kigali, life is more relaxed and the inhabitants of the town are friendly and accommodating. Things are cheaper, especially food and one can tour the town, even on a small budget. The best forms of transport which are all affordable are motorcycles, minivans and bicycles, which are fun to take, especially if you’re in a group. The weather can get chillingly cold at night, though, and it is advisable to travel with a couple of heavy jumpers or sweaters.

Out of the several scenic places to visit within the town and its outskirts, these are the 5 must-see places:

  1. Lake Kivu

You haven’t seen Rwanda if you haven’t gone to Lake Kivu. From Musanze, you must take a 1 hour bus ride to Rubavu City for about 1500RWF. The public beach is easily accessible in Serena Hotel, Lake Kivu Beach where entry is free. The view of the Lake is best seen at sunset or sunrise but one can go at any time. Boat rides are also available for a reasonable price (about 1500RWF). On the Lake, you will get to see small islands that litter the lake. Also, if you don’t have a camera or want a professional one taken, there are photographers who can take you pictures and even print them for you for about 800RWF per picture. The sea breeze is relaxing and if you can find a quiet spot to rest along the beach, it can prove to be an emotionally stimulating experience.

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Lake Kivu at dusk, Rubavu City. Photo credits: Soila Kenya
  1. Congo Border

This is also in Rubavu City and can be seen on the same day you go to the lake. The bustling border is flowing under a constant stream of Congolese crossing over to Rwanda. The difference between the Congolese and Rwandese is distinct, mostly in their dressing style, destroying the notion that Africans all have basically the same cultures. When allowed through to go see the border itself (it is advised to go with a Rwandese who knows the area), you can see the gate that separates Congo from Rwanda and stand in the no-man’s-land between the two countries. It’s quite a sobering experience to see how different the two countries are, even at their borders. The border security is tight, though and you might not be allowed to take pictures.

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Suzan Kinyanjui in front of the Congo Border. Photo Credits: Alvin Ngugi
  1. Rubindi River

This is a great chance to witness the domestic life in Musanze. It is located in Byangabo Centre and is a short walk off the main road. One can see the locals as they plant various agricultural products such as sorghum and dry them in the sun. The river snakes through various settlements where the farmers take full advantage of it. The area is rocky, making it necessary for them to gather the volcanic soil form surrounding areas and pack it onto rocks so they can plant. There is also a natural spring that bubbles up from the ground and is used as drinking water. The river ends in an unseen underground waterfall that can be heard if you stand near it. Lots of legends and myths surround this wonderful phenomenon.

 

 

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River Rubindi. Photo Credits: Soila Kenya
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Natural Spring near Rubindi River. Photo credits: Soila Kenya
  1. Caves

For those more daring, visiting the various caves available at these caves are a great delight as you enter the pitch blackness with torches and find your way among the slippery muck to the other side. Children in the area are willing to guide you for a small fee (about 100RWF depending on how many help you). The cave varies between wide echoing caverns to narrow barely-there spaces that you have to squeeze through. It takes about 10 minutes to traverse the whole cave and the pictures you can take are well-worth the trip.

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A couple of friends in one of the caves. Photo credits: Soila Kenya
  1. Hot Springs Massage

These are located near Lake Kivu (but in a different section from the beach). It costs 500RWF for East African members to enter. The natural hot spring bubbles up near the lake and the masseuses use it to give customers an herbal massage for 1500RWF. It lasts about 15mins and by the time they’re through with you, your legs and feet feel amazingly refreshed. Also included in the treatment is a foot mud bath where they encase your feet in hot mud for 5mins. It’s great fun, especially with friends.

There are lots more places to visit in Musanze such as the volcanoes etc, and if you have time you can explore more places.

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Daphne Bochaberi enjoying a foot mud bath at the side of Lake Kivu. Photo credits: Soila Kenya
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Suzan Kinyanjui at the hot springs

Join me next week for a trip to the West!