This was not my average campfire. It was ignited in a metallic furnace, powered by charcoal. The campfire wasn’t the only thing I wasn’t used to. The entire campsite has amenities lacking in similar establishments elsewhere.
I didn’t use my own tent. Sometimes, a combination of fatigue, darkness and banana wine makes it hard to assemble my camping gear late at night. This time round, I didn’t have to worry about building my own make-shift shelter, in the middle of the night, under the influence of urwagwa. Every thing was all set before I stepped on the camp.
The said campsite is on top of Mount Kabuye, in the Northern Province of Rwanda. The facility was set up by Beyond the Gorillas Experience (BGE), a social enterprise established to offer unparalleled ecotourism, cultural and community-based experiences, with emphasis on activities partaken outside the national parks.
Soaring higher than 8,850 feet above sea level, Mount Kabuye gave me a great hiking experience. I made it to the camp late. Darkness had enveloped the sky around the elevation and the landscapes beneath it. Illuminating lights from the surrounding settlements in the districts of Gakenke, Burera, Musanze, Rulindo and Gicumbi looked like little diamonds sprinkled on a dark surface.
After checking in, I took a warm bath and looked around, hoping to see the campsite’s most celebrated landmark — the bonfire. I expected to sit by the fire in the woods but my fellow campers preferred the warmth of the cabana near the kitchen.
Speaking of fellow campers, their itinerary gave me some ideas. They had trekked from Kinihira area in Rulindo to Gakenke through trails meandering from one hill to another. At the end of the day, they discovered Mount Kabuye.
The second day of their expedition would see them ramble to Lake Ruhondo and spend the night at Lake Ruhondo Beach Resort. From there, the plan was to cross the lake by boat and board taxi-motos to downtown Musanze. What a memorable experience!
Around the campfire, we exchanged stories and corn from neighboring farms. The corn delicacies were served as the first round of appetizers before the main course was placed on a dinner table. Adequate drinking water and fresh juice, not to mention aromatic and alcoholic beverages were at our disposal throughout the night.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Gakenke is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, The Peakspot Lodge, Exposure and Beyond the Gorillas Experience (BGE).