As COVID- 19 continues to cripple the global economy, tourism happens to be one of the most affected industries. Circumstances are forcing destinations to suspend tourism activities after spending a fortune promoting their attractions.
#TravelTomorrow is a trending thread on platforms connecting tourism promoters, operators and other stakeholders around the world. Staying home today means traveling tomorrow. This message is a proclamation of solidarity and hope. We don’t know when the world will be open for tourism again. We can’t predict accurately the gravity of the economic recession in a foreseeable future. The good news is, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. As dim as it is, that light is keeping our flame of hope ablaze.
In the meantime, I have found myself reminiscing about the good old days and looking forward to the day I will travel again. I remember the day I toured Lake Ruhondo on the foothills of the volcanoes. From the shore of Lake Ruhondo, I marveled at the turquoise water and the towering volcanoes soaring to the clouds thousands of meters above sea level. That was a sight to behold.
The lake looked abandoned. A cluster of activities usually seen around other lakes was missing. There was no fanfare and the only sounds I could hear were produced by singing birds. I am not complaining though. The tranquility I felt there is exactly what I needed.
Earlier on, I had cruised around several islands aboard a wooden motorized boat and the only sounds I could hear were produced by singing birds and the engine of my vessel. At some point, I saw a man shipping goods to the other side of the lake in paddle-propelled canoe. When I returned to the shore, I overheard farmers communicating with their livestock in a language I barely understood.
Lakes are resources that stimulate nature-based tourism. Their allure is irresistible to some of us. This power of attraction was responsible for frequent Kivu-bound trips organized by residents of Kigali before they were grounded in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. As they drove to the Western Province under the influence of the magnetic charm of the lake they are familiar with, Kigali dwellers would bypass the seldom known Lake Ruhondo.
Not far from the north-eastern shoreline of Lake Ruhondo lies another hidden gem, Lake Burera. The Twin Lakes moniker is often used to refer to the two neighboring lakes. Lake Burera surges 150 meters higher than her twin sister. While standing near the slope of the nearest volcano, I enjoyed an unobstructed view of both water bodies. From this vantage point, it looked like Burera was flowing into Ruhondo.
Turns out, Lake Burera indeed pours its content into Lake Ruhondo. This is done through a pipeline designed to intensify the velocity of the dropping water, which in turn, whirls the turbines that produce electricity. At Ntaruka power plant, I learned a thing or two about the scientific process of transforming kinetic energy into electricity.
The upmarket Virunga Lodge is in the vicinity, mostly hosting loaded tourists attracted by the famous mountain gorillas. Other relatively cheaper lodges available around the Twin Lakes include Lake Ruhondo Beach Resort and the church-owned Les Foyers de Charité. Visitors can also opt to camp on Cyuza’s island.
From the shore of Lake Ruhondo, I marveled at the lush green plants and the imposing light blue sky. After hiking northwards for about an hour, I was rewarded with the view of the two stunning lakes. That was another sight to behold.