On one side of the hill, I slowed down and admired the splendid view of the city. On the other side, I was awestruck by the panorama of Nyabarongo River, Mount Shyorongi, Mount Jali and settlements spreading as far as Kamonyi.
I would have observed more but I was overwhelmed by the excitement of riding a horse for the first time in my life. It’s hard to observe distant geographical features when you are experiencing your first ever gallop-induced adrenaline rush.
In the beginning of my horse riding experiment, I practiced halting, walking and trotting. My trainer, a gentleman namely Vitalis, gets along with horses very well. He interacts with them in their own language. His passion for horse riding is undeniable. I have a feeling he talks about horses to strangers he sits next to in the bus.
After a short basic training session, I embarked on an exhilarating hack around the hill. When I got comfortable on the back of this powerful animal capable of covering a good number of kilometers per hour, I went full throttle.
At some point, I wanted to stop and take pictures but instead of pulling the ropes, I kicked the horse. By doing so, I pressed the accelerator instead of stepping on the brake pedal. What followed made me speak Chinese in a desperate attempt to make the horse obey my instructions. Apparently, Vitalis hadn’t taught me the language horses understand.
Notwithstanding that little incident caused by miscommunication, my first horse riding outing was captivating. Horse riding experiences on Mount Kigali are offered by Fazenda Sengha, a recreational facility established to promote equestrianism in Rwanda while creating an environmentally friendly social enterprise uniting friends and families interested in horsemanship and other outdoor activities.
Before I was introduced to horses, I hiked from Nyamirambo to the top of the mountain. It took me about 40 minutes to get there. As close as it is, this area has a rural atmosphere with scattered houses, farms and a small forest. It’s hard to believe one can walk to Kigali’s buzzing suburb in a few minutes. I was in a countryside environment with a clear view of downtown Kigali.
However, the upper Nyamirambo area is expanding rapidly towards the top threatening to consume what should have been a reserved area. I understand the magnitude of the scramble for plots on which our houses are built but I am not a fan of the urbanization of Mount Kigali.