Plan on travelling to Rwanda soon? If you are an active person, know that there are plenty of options available to you if you are an avid cyclist or hiker. With plenty of mountainous terrain, lovely lakes, and country roads which take you from one authentic village to the next, there are plenty of excellent places to hike and bike in this country.
Below, we’ll share our favorite places to do one or both of these athletic pursuits.
Congo Nile Divide Trail
Of all the places in Rwanda suitable for biking and hiking, the Condo Nile Divide Trail is by far the most popular. Laid out along the shores of scenic Lake Kivu, this 227-kilometre path can take as long as ten days to complete if you are making good time on foot.
Truthfully, though, it will take closer to two weeks if you are hiking the route, as you’ll get to see Rwandan rural life up close, as this path takes you through several villages. Every time your feet ache, remind yourself that you get to see locals in their native dress, gaze out across the peacefulness of Lake Kivu, and up at the mountain peaks which rise above it.
This may be a puzzling selection for some; after all, who comes to Africa to go on a bike ride through its cities? Unlike some capitals on this continent, Kigali’s paths and roads are laid out well for cyclists, allowing you to this hilly city with greater effectiveness than if you were to try to get around on foot.
We’ll be honest, though – while this city is popular with local cyclists, the traffic is still leagues worse than what you are used to back home. As such, novice riders should stick to the outskirts of town, where vehicle flows are lighter and more predictable. Anything can happen on the road and some roads are more dangerous than others.
The periphery of Kigali, especially in the south and east, has a friendlier grade to those who are less athletically inclined, and with plenty of rural Rwandan villages to explore, it is often a more rewarding place to ride than the city center.
A relaxing resort town situated 40 kilometers east of Kigali, Lake Muhazi is not a place where the hardcore hiker or biker can expect to spend hours or days on the trail. Rather, it appeals more readily to those who engage in these activities at a leisurely pace.
There are dirt tracks along the lake suitable for mountain biking enthusiasts that provide enough thrills to keep them satisfied – hikers also walk these paths, though, so be sure to keep this in mind if you plan on going for a rip during your time in Lake Muhazi.
Villages are also located along the route – when you reach one, take a break and connect with residents – you’ll be glad you did! Connecting with local people and sharing stories, smiles and laughs is one of the most enjoyable and memorable parts of traveling.
Musanze Twin Lakes
Situated in the heart of Volcanoes National Park, the Musanze Twin Lakes provide an alternative activity to gorilla tracking to those visiting the area. A number of tour outfits offer cycle safaris as a way to experience the park without hacking your way deep into the bush in search of our primate cousins.
Many of the itineraries offered last two days, granting a sense of adventure you may not have encountered on your previous big bike rides. In addition to checking out the stunning scenery that will unfold before you throughout the entire route, many tour guides will act as a liaison between you and the local people you’ll meet in the villages you’ll pass through on your ride.
Be sure to screen agencies using Tripadvisor/Google before choosing one, as some provide excellent service, while others simply provide a bike and little else. If you’d like to do further research, search out some reputable independent travel blogs as they will usually guide you in the right path.
Looking for an adventurous trek many travelers don’t get around to doing while in Rwanda? Depending on how much experience you have, climbing Mount Bisoke might be for you. The biggest point of contention: it sits on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a place which has had security concerns in the past.
However, these have been resolved, allowing trekkers to challenge this photogenic conical volcano, which stands more than 3,700 meters above sea level. On the way up, keep your eyes out for golden monkeys, elephants, and even mountain gorillas – these giants roam these ranges freely.
At the top, you’ll be rewarded for your sweat with a crater lake filled with jade green water and views of the surrounding landscape from one of the loftiest viewpoints in Rwanda – drink it in, as you will have earned it! It’s also a time when you’ll be glad you charged your batteries as you’ll be taking lots of photos.
Want to scale one of Rwanda’s peaks, but reeling at the permit costs slapped on most of them? Mount Kabuye is a significant mountain which is totally free for anyone to climb, making it a great option for travelers on a budget.
Not only is it an easy peak to scale, much of the lower slopes pass through farmland, practically guaranteeing you’ll run into local residents as you ascend through fields of blowing grass and eucalyptus trees.
Kalitta Belinda is the Tours Manager at Wild Rwanda Safaris.