There is something about water bodies which is exceptionally attractive and soothing. Most people go to the beach to unwind and reclaim their peace of mind. In a land-locked country like Rwanda, folks rely on lakes to experience that peaceful beach atmosphere. Although our lakes lack sandy beaches, with Kivu being the only exception, their magical allure is still irresistible.
Boating, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking or simply chilling on the shore and relishing the enticing site of the blue water and the sound of gentle waves is food to the souls of many travelers frequenting the Kivu Belt. There are numerous activities a visitor can partake while in Karongi and the lake is a good place to start. A visit to the islands is both adventurous and informative. There are deep history lessons behind the Kivu archipelago.
The lake is surrounded by lush green hills and the Kivu Belt is arguably the most beautiful part of Rwanda. Trekking and cycling along the Congo Nile Trail is highly recommended for energetic explorers. Alternatively, a stopover at the Museum of Environment can do the trick. Coffee lovers are welcome to test their sipping skills with a Crop to Cup experience. There is so much more one can do in this district, most of which I haven’t discovered yet.
In 2009, Rwanda’s Ministry of Trade and Industry expressed concern over the country’s over-reliance on one tourism product. The land of 1,000 Hills is known for gorilla trekking, an experience that is enjoyed at a hefty fee. Whilst recognizing the importance of this iconic product, more effort is needed in diversifying the industry to include a wide range of activities.
There are lucrative investment opportunities in the hospitality sector within Karongi District. Accommodation and recreational facilities are being set up in response to the growing demands of visitors seeking a break from their stressful lives. The government through the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is formulating policies and introducing attractive products to stimulate growth but more investment from the private sector is needed.
Some facilities command huge investment. Water parks equipped with aqua rocket and vertical looping slides are still a long shot but worth putting into consideration. Besides, our God-given geographical features have not yet been fully utilized. Sometimes, creativity is what we need. The Congo Nile Trail is a good example of how far creativity can take us without necessarily investing money. The trail existed way before RDB came up with an idea to launch a new product out of it.
There are several community-based initiatives designed to give visitors an opportunity to experience the day to day life of a rural Rwandan while empowering communities. King Fisher journeys is a low investment, high reward venture that creates an alternative activity for Kivu-bound visitors.
Years ago, RDB unveiled a luxury boat namely Munezero, a move that was applauded by many travel enthusiasts. What happened to the boat after a short period of operations remains a mystery. Cruising from Rubavu to Ruzizi via Karongi aboard this lavish mini-vessel was a thrilling experience only a few enjoyed while it lasted.
Karongi boasts unparalleled beauty and moderate climate despite its close proximity to the equator. Nature is undeniably favoring this land but we need to do more in terms of product development and promotion to capitalize on God’s act of generosity.
The author is an adventurer on a mission to discover what Rwanda has to offer. Follow his awe-inspiring journey on Twitter and Facebook @ExposureRwanda