The Rwanda Development Board on Friday officially launched a new tourist attraction , the Congo-Nile Trail which runs alongside Lake Kivu’s shores.
The 227-kilometer trail bridges the western part of Rwanda, stretching from Rubavu district through Karongi, Nyamasheke towards Rusizi. According to Rica Rwigamba, head of the Tourism and Conservation department at RDB, it creates the western corridor which links Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Parks and is part of an effort to give tourists possibilities beyond the national parks.
“We must invest by diversifying our products so as to keep tourists longer in the country,” Rwigamba said. “This is important given that tourism is one of the big foreign exchange earners.”
The trail can be explored through hiking (10 days), cycling or 4Ã-4 driving (3 days), does not only expose tourists to spectacular scenery, but also gives them an occasion to visit coffee washing stations and tea factories; they can also relax at several natural sand beaches or stroll around in lakeside towns and villages. Along the way, the Congo Nile Trail has eight base camps, two main paths and four secondary trails.
The highest point is on the trail is the Congo-Nile Crest with 2630 m; and the principal towns along the route include Gisenyi, Kibuye and Kamembe. “Through activities along the trail, we want to expose visitors to our cultural values and historical background,” Rwigamba said.
Wolfgang Thome, one of the tourists who have already enjoyed the trail experience for five days, lauded the initiative saying that it is a very special offer to tourist wishing to enjoy the Rwandan experience given that it is not expensive.
“People have misconception that hiking is done by people with very limited resources, but by hiking along the trail you get opportunity to meet exciting sceneries where some may pay 20 or 50 dollars depending on one’s capacity.” Thome said. “For me it was an eye-opener to experience daily life of Rwandan people, and see how agriculture dominates rural areas.”
The Congo-Nile Trail is the latest addition to the country’s growing list of tourist attractions, adding to recently-launched programs such as bird watching, cultural tourism, the Nyungwe Forest canopy walk, and the addition to revival and elevation of Gishwati forest as the newest National Park.
The Congo-Nile Trail was developed by RDB in collaboration with United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and SNV- the Netherlands development organization.