The Congo Nile Trail, The Biking tour in Rwanda

The Congo Nile Trail is actually trailing through roads that run from Gisenyi at the north end of Lake Kivu 227 kilometers south to the town of Cyangugu at the southern end of the lake. Between these two familiar points its made up of unending rolling hills and towns and villages, offering cyclists and trekkers a glimpse of Rwandan rural life rarely experienced by the city dwellers that make up most of Rwanda’s expat community. Bird lovers will also enjoy a wonderful diversity of fowl found along the way, including white tailed blue flycatchers, black headed herons and White-breasted cormorants. There is little traffic, but there are a few cars, trucks and buses that travel in both directions every day, so one has to be alert.  The climbs are few and not very steep, as the gradient on most hills is gradual.  That being said, one is in fact ascending and descending between 1450 meters and 1800 meters above sea level.

Congo Nile-trailThe beautiful network of local roads and trails runs along the shore of Lake Kivu in the East African country of Rwanda.  It’s growing more popular by the year, but currently offers just the right mix of accessible infrastructure and off-the-beaten-track spontaneity.  If you like exploring beautiful countryside and tiny villages, waking up on the shore of an island-studded lake, falling asleep to the aftermath of a thunderstorm, and sharing leisurely pantomime exchanges with curious locals, you’ll find your adventure on the Congo Nile Trail.

Imagine a stretch of primitive dirt roads and single trails winding through verdant jungle and farmland, exuberant children cheering and chasing as if you were riding for Team Rwanda. There are banana trees, coffee plantations, small fishing communities, and colorfully dressed women carrying impossibly large bundles of firewood, bananas, and avocados to market. To your right, peninsulas of terraced hillsides create the amorphous coastline of Lake Kivu and countless islets dot its sparking waters. The track pulls away from the lake and ascends into the crisp air that surrounds the enchanting emerald tea plantations, where pickers shear an endless wave of black tea. The route continues to ascend along the divide that separates the Nile and Congo rivers, hence the name. Rugged dirt roads turn in to a faint path that enters the thick Nyungwe rainforest in which the call of chimpanzees can be heard; there’s a good chance that you’ll encounter orchid, tropical birds, butterflies, chameleon, and at least one of 13 species of primates.

Congo Nile-trailWith Rwandan Adventures you can take a short tour of just a few hours or go crazy and try to make the seven day journey from Gisenyi all the way to Cyangugu, or anything in between. A popular route starts in Gisenyi and ends in Kibuye, stopping overnight on the way at the Kinunu coffee washing station. From Kibuye you return back to Gisenyi by boat along the shore of Kivu.

Congo Nile-trailhere are several options for enjoying the Congo-Nile Trail. Walking, motorcycling and cycling are all options, but you won’t get very far walking up the hills, and you can’t adequately appreciate the scenery if you’re zooming by on a motorcycle, so I recommend taking a cycling tour to get the most out of the Trail. On a bike you have a plenty of touring options. You can keep to the wide roads, challenge yourself on the more technically demanding narrow footpaths that snake through the hills and villages, or a mix of both.

Recommended Accommodation along Congo Nile Trail What to carry on a Congo Gorilla Trail
  • Gisenyi – Inzu Lodge.
  • Kinunu – Kinunu Guesthouse
  • Kibuye – Home Saint Jean and Bethanie Guesthouse.
  • Mugonero – L’Esparance Guesthouse.
  • Kibogora – Kibogora Guesthouse
  • Kamembe – Peace Guesthouse.
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Water purifying bottle
  • Small bike pump
  • Extra Tire and patch kit
  • Change of clothes, a sweater, a roll-up coat and toiletries and sunscreen
  • Headlamp, dust mask
  • Snacks (nuts and fruits)

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