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

Hello!

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.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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 😀

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