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Hi there!

I'm Margaret, a female traveller from Nigeria, and welcome to my personal blog , TheAjalaBug.com.

Here, I document my adventures in travel and life experiences generally. Hope you get inspired!

How I spent my last holiday in Rwanda | Exploring Gisenyi

How I spent my last holiday in Rwanda | Exploring Gisenyi

After exploring Kigali for a day, it was time to head to one of the most popular tourist sites of Rwanda, Lake Kivu (one of the largest 20 lakes in the world) at Gisenyi.

The night before the trip to Gisenyi, I was psyched but also a little anxious. Did I mention that I over-packed?! So much for advocating for packing light. Yimu!!!. Anyways, we had decided to take the public bus instead of the US$100 taxi from Kigali to Gisenyi. I wasn't sure how convenient it was going to be but I was definitely certain that we were saving about US$70 combined.

The next morning our amazing driver picked us from the hotel to the bus pack at Nyabugogo terminal, Kigali. He negotiated on our behalf and sorted us out before leaving.

 Rwanda Travel Guide | The Ajala Bug

Rwanda Travel Guide | The Ajala Bug

We were excited to jump on a bus with the locals and escape to tranquil waters in the beautiful lakeside town of Gisenyi. Did I mention Ofure (my travel buddy) and I had such amazing push-pull relationship? Yes, we did. She is the very reason we saved money on this trip. Hahahahahaha......we had to strike a balance between convenient travelling and affordability.

 Rwanda Travel Guide | The Ajala Bug

Rwanda Travel Guide | The Ajala Bug

After 3-hours drive on an intestine-like road and passing rolling hills & tea fields, we arrived at Gisenyi. Did I mention that Naija jam is a thing in Rwanda?! I mean, I was so proud of Nigerian musicians. They have put Nigeria on the map. Proud moments!.

Gisenyi sits on the shores of Lake Kivu and it is right next to the DRC border. This is why you have many Rwandans settled in Congo because during the genocide, there was a mass of people that moved to Congo.  

We took a taxi from the bus park to our hotel, The Palm beach resort. We were welcomed with sights of glistening Lake Kivu. The Lake is known to be one of the worldโ€™s only three exploding lakes. This means that the water is known to experience limnic eruptions, which are rare natural disasters involving carbon dioxide erupting from the deep lake water. 

 Lake Kivu Gisenyi | The Ajala Bug

Lake Kivu Gisenyi | The Ajala Bug

1. Lodged at The Palm Beach Resort for a night

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The manager of the resort showed us round the resort to enable us decide on if we wanted to stay at the African themed or modern room. To be honest, the difference wasn't that much. We eventually settled for the African themed room. The convenience was outside ..... LMAO. We frowned at it but.......not much of an option available, considering the time of the day we arrived and the prices of the other resorts.

Later that evening, we ordered for curry chicken & rice and had a fantasic dinner. Afterwards, we requested for a pitfire to keep warm before calling it a day. The WiFi was really good, the views from the room was relaxing and the staff were helpful but electricity was rationed. LMAO. 

There was mosquito nets in the room but it's either we were too tired to feel the mosquitoes or we were fortunate that there was none in the room. In summary, we had a good sleep. It rained all through the night and I hoped that it wouldn't disturb our plans the next day. 

2. We had an Anglo-American breakfast and explored the Resort in the morning

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The next morning there was no hot water. Ha!. While I managed the cold freezing water, my travel buddy was having none of it. I can't even remember how that was resolved because I left the room to explore the resort and place orders for our breakfast as it wasn't buffet.

While outside, I enquired about taking a boat ride on Lake Kivu and visiting Gisenyi / Nyanyumba hot springs. I was told it would cost RWF 40,000 (circa US$50). Why so expensive?!. Quickly, I had to re-strategise because we hadn't planned for such enormous cost. Just then did I sight a couple (Michael and Carolina) who we had seen the night before while we were seated around the pitfire. I approached them, introduced myself & my absent travel buddy and proposed the boat ride adventure. They said 'Yes'.  Whoop!!!! Our cost immediately reduced by 50%.

The resort was cheap, yet pretty. Such a budget friendly resort at US$85 a night, inclusive of breakfast for two. The breakfast is pre-portioned, but somewhat sufficient. What I can't get over is East Africans love for passion fruit. I mean.....smoothie is passion fruit, everything is passion fruit!!!. I don't like that fruit one bit.

3. Boat ride on Lake Kivu to Stone Island and Nyanyumba hot springs

 Boat ride on Lake Kivu | The Ajala Bug

Boat ride on Lake Kivu | The Ajala Bug

 Stone Island | The Ajala Bug

Stone Island | The Ajala Bug

 Stone Island | The Ajala Bug

Stone Island | The Ajala Bug

 Lake Kivu | The Ajala Bug

Lake Kivu | The Ajala Bug

 Nyanyumba hot springs | The Ajala Bug

Nyanyumba hot springs | The Ajala Bug

 Nyanyumba hot springs | The Ajala Bug

Nyanyumba hot springs | The Ajala Bug

 Nyanyumba hot springs | The Ajala Bug

Nyanyumba hot springs | The Ajala Bug

 Nyanyumba hot springs | The Ajala Bug

Nyanyumba hot springs | The Ajala Bug

The biggest tourist trap is that stone Island. Captain say what?! Now let me remind you that the RWF 40,000 (US$50) was for 2 hours and not the whole day. It ought to cover a boat ride to 'stone island', Nyanyumba hot springs, Primus brewery and fishing market.

Now looking retrospectively, the boat riders wasted our time at the stone Island and before we could say jack, the 2 hours was over. So we were only able to visit Nyanyumba hot springs. I guess we didn't complain because we got the most relaxing massage ever after paying about RWF 3,000 each (circa US$4). The locals were extremely excited to see Nigerians again and jammed Davido non-stop. Perhaps it's time for me to start sharing videos.

4. We said our goodbyes, but for a min, to our new friends and moved to Lake Kivu Serena Resort for a night

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

The Palm Beach Resort | The Ajala Bug

 Lake Kivu | The Ajala Bug

Lake Kivu | The Ajala Bug

 Primus Brewery | The Ajala Bug

Primus Brewery | The Ajala Bug

At this point, we felt sad to be leaving our Caro & Michael behind at Palm beach. Did I mention that there was no television in the rooms at Palm beach???Yes.....well, I didn't know at the point of booking and thank goodness, it was for only one night. 

Before leaving, we shared our itinerary with our new friends and invited them over to Serena Resort where we were moving to. It was an opportunity to watch the match and also explore together.

Our taxi arrived and it was time to say our goodbyes but for a min. Driving by we saw Primus Brewery which we were meant to tour but we were 'conned'. LMAO

3. A visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (we wish!) and Nyiragongo Volcano

 DRC Border | The Ajala Bug

DRC Border | The Ajala Bug

 DRC Border | The Ajala Bug

DRC Border | The Ajala Bug

 DRC Border | The Ajala Bug

DRC Border | The Ajala Bug

 DRC Border | The Ajala Bug

DRC Border | The Ajala Bug

Our new friends came over to our hotel and together we explored the town. At this point, our fun was based on the spontaneity that unfolded and all that was discovered in the spur of the moment.

We visited the commercial trade route connecting Rwanda and DR Congo, Goma Border. We discovered that there were two borders. The driver took us to a border we couldn't recognise (thanks to IG) LMAO. After looking around, we insisted that there was another border and viola, he drove us there. It was a much smaller border but busier. My lawd, you needed to see the human traffic. So apparently traders are allowed cross the borders and go about their trade. I only wonder how the government is able to control resettlements.

Excitedly, we also saw the active Mt. Nyiragongo Volcano. This is said to be the world's largest lava lake. I also read that it erupted a few times in the past displacing thousands of households. I have seen pictures from the 

5. Relaxed at Serena Resort

 Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

 Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

 Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

 Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

Sincerely, there's not much to see or do in Gisenyi in terms of exploring, except for the lake. I personally think Gisenyi is for relaxing. The town itself is sleepy. This was exactly what we planned; explore Kigali and relax in Gisenyi. 

We spent a night at the upmarket resort, Lake Kivu Serena. The resort has a prime beachfront and I got a glimpse of the sunset before it disappeared. By now, you have noticed my pattern. I mix budget and upscale hotels. You can canoe on lake kivu, enjoy a sailboat or Jet Ski ride. 

6. An evening with our friends, watching the FIFA World Cup

 Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

Serena Lake Kivu resort | The Ajala Bug

IMG_5487.JPG

We spent the evening watching FIFA world cup with Caro and Michael. The next morning it was time to catch a flight from Kigali to Kenya. We weren't looking forward to the road trip from Gisenyi back to Kigali.

Luckily, this time we took the luxurious bus and it was a smoother ride. I slept all through the journey and after 3 hours we arrived in Kigali, quite early to catch our flight so we decided to stop at Hotel Serena for lunch before heading to the airport. My meal was a fantastic way of ending our Rwanda trip. It was yummy!.

 Hotel Serena Kigali | The Ajala Bug

Hotel Serena Kigali | The Ajala Bug

Final thoughts on travelling to Gisenyi

Driving through Gisenyi you will notice loads of hotels dotted along the lakeshore. If youโ€™re after an upmarket experience, look no further than the Serena Kivu. Though my travel buddy thinks it is run down. LMAO

Rwanda is a beautiful country and perhaps the cleanest country in Africa. I could go on and on but pictures and words will never do enough justice. You really need to go and see it for yourself.

If something good happens, travel to celebrate. If something bad happens, travel to forget. If nothing happens, travel to make something happen.

Some facts about RWANDA

Below are a few observations from my trip to Rwanda; Kigali and Gisenyi

1. Rwanda is a small country by land area but with a number of volcanoes, rainforest and animal parks

2. Rwanda is impressively safe and easy to travel to from Nigeria

3. Rwanda is a country with linguistic diversity. The local language is Kinyarwanda, though they speak French, Swahili and a bit of English. This can singularly make it more attractive to foreigners. 

4. Rwanda is landlocked. I read that there are plans to build a train from the Tanzania to Rwanda.

5. Rwanda is big on Animal and environmental conservation. From banning plastic bags to be more environmentally sustainable, to conservation work for the endangered animals.

6. Rwanda's tourism is one of its fastest growing industries.

7. Rwanda coffee is dark and internationally competitive. 

Thank you all for reading and feel free to share. You have read from me, now I would love to read from you. Please share your Rwanda experience with us or perhaps your thoughts about the country if you are yet to visit. Bless!.

Margaret.

How to spend your holiday in Kenya | Nairobi Episode

How to spend your holiday in Kenya | Nairobi Episode

How I spent my holiday in Rwanda | Exploring Kigali

How I spent my holiday in Rwanda | Exploring Kigali