Exploring Rwanda’s Congo Nile trail

The Congo Nile trail officially opened around 2009 passing along Lake Kivu shores, through Rugavu and Rutsiro ending in Rusizi district. It gets its name from the fact that it watersheds between the Congo and the Nile River. It is a 227km long walking, motor cycling or biking trail so whatever you choose to do, it will be an amazing adventure for you. Most people for biking since it is easier than walking and can also use the smallest routes, through local communities of really wonderful people. It only gets tough when you have to go up hills or cross over water body. The trail is one of the activities that you can easily align with your Nyungwe Forest national park safari Visit.

How long is the Trail and what to expect

This 227km long trail is usually covered in 10 days maximum for the hikers since you have to go through rolling hills of Rwanda. However you can choose to split the journey half way if you don’t have that much time.    This can be done by bicycles . Bikers need 5 days to complete the trail and at the end of the trail, it will be worth your time, money and energy because it is such an amazing journey. You get the opportunity to meet and interact with different as you go through their communities. You can stop and explore the different culltures, the beautiful beaches, the canoe rides where you have to cross a large water body.

The hikers with enough time can hike for the whole 10 days and complete the trail, enjoy the beautiful sceneries, along the way you will have a clear view of Lake Kivu shoreline from different point along the different trails.

The Congo Nile Trail

There are different trail/ routes that you can follow for instance;

You can choose the shortest route which is 1 or 10 days long from Gisenyi to Kibuye. This is the best option for those that don’t have much time but wouldn’t want to miss the hike.

The second one runs from Gisenyi to Kimembe, it’s quite a long trail because it takes 5 days for the bikers so the choice is really yours depending on how much time you have and your physical fitness.

Hikers may need to hire a porter and park rangers to guide them along the different routes. For those who can read maps well, these are available at Kamembe or at RDB offices in kigali. The maps provide information about all the different routes and also accommodations available along the way.

Congo Nile Trail BikesBiking the Congo Nile Trail

Biking is on the best ways to explore the Congo Nile Trail, allowing you to traverse a great number of routes. The ride along the trails, always ensures that you have company. This is  because of the different cyclists that pile the highway with produces pedaling from one village to another. Hikers who would not wish to miss a metre of the 227kms of the Congo Nile trail, Biking reduces the distance into half and thus making it the prefect option for those with limited time in Rwanda.  For those who do not have bikes / bicycle and other hiking gears, there are a number of Nyungwe hiking specialized  tour operators who can hire you all that you require to make your exploration smooth. Short rides of 1 or two days are available for riders with just a day or a couple of days to spare.


Hiking the Congo Nile Trail

Taking you through over 10 villages, 3 cities, 3 Tea plantations and over a dozen coffee washing stations, the Congo Nile trail is another hikers paradise.  The trail winds its way along Lake Kivu through the endless peaks of the thousands hills that make up Rwanda. On Foot, the 227 kms of the Congo Nile trail takes 10 days. It is known to be one of the best work out trails, in the whole of east and Central Africa. Are you eager to swim in Lake Kivu, or meet up a number of different cultures or even taste the Coffee grown in the Mille Colline ( Thousand hills), then this is your perfect adventure that you need to book.

List of Items to Carry for the Congo Nile Trail

While planning a hike along this trail, there are items that we think you should carry. These include;

  • Drinks and snacks; In between the trails, there are no shops, therefore it is advisable to pack snacks and  drinks.
  •  A Hat and sunscreen.
  • Long Trousers and Comfortable hiking shoes.
  • Minor objects like sunglasses or a cap, Binoculars, wipes, among so many other stuff are also important depending on what you use in a day..

Accommodation and camping along the Congo Nile Trail 

There are several campsites and plantation guest houses along this Congo Nile trail. Along the trail there are  8 camping sites in addition to the guest houses in the cities and plantation houses.

Some of this accommodation is found at orphanages, some are local schools and beddings might not be that good. Thus it is important that you carry your personal sleeping tent or sleeping bags if you can.

Some of the guest houses to consider staying in are ; peace guest house, bethenie guest house and kinunu guest House depending on your route.

Important rules/ guidelines to a successful Congo trail hike

  • Obtain the detailed copy of the Congo Nile Trail Map from your Tour operator or from Rwanda development Board.
  •  It is also important to learn the local language which the Kinyarwanda; at least a few word so that you can communicate with the local people when you meet them. Hello, thank you and a few starter word will help you deal with the locals. Learning some terms in the local language is important more so if one doesn’t speak French.
  • Backpacks or waist bags are needed to carry your valuables.
  • Always following the green signs to guide you to your final destination.
  • Warm clothings, a rain and Umbrella are mandatory, because it rain any time o day.
  • It is advisable that bikers hike during hot seasons because it more challenging during wet season.

Try to follow the guidelines and you can be sure you will have the most amazing hiking adventure in Rwanda. This Congo Nile trail is such a great addition for those visiting Kivu or Nyungwe National Park.  You can combine this with a cultural tour or primates tour in Rwanda.