While pursuing the route I had never taken before, I didn’t use GPS or any other high-tech navigation tool. I wanted to find my destination the old-school way — tracking down landmarks and asking for directions.
I was going to My Hill Ecolodge in Gashaki Sector, Musanze District. The first time I visited the place, I rode along the Cyanika road before taking the right turn at a small village known as Agahunga in Burera District. Then I proceeded to Ntaruka hydropower plant. From there, I boarded a boat and sailed to My Hill on the Musanze side of Lake Ruhondo.
This time around, I rode to Gashaki through Gacaca and Remera sectors. From downtown Musanze, I followed the cycling trail elevating gradually through Mukungwa hydropower plant. Along the way, I saw the source of Mukungwa River and a nature walk trail slashing through breathtaking landscapes.
When it started raining, I pulled over and put on my rain gear. It rained for a long time but it was business as usual in the area. Farmers were walking back home and schoolchildren were playing outside despite the downpour.
There is a network of trails connecting different communities in the districts of Musanze, Gakenke and Burera. Some crossroads confused me a little bit. It’s easy to get lost. I stopped and asked for directions a few times. Most of the time, I relied on what I call landmark tracking. In this case, the lake served as the most reliable landmark. Since My Hill is a lakeside property, all I needed to do was stick to the trail that happens to be closer to the shoreline than the rest.
When I saw the Gashaki Sector signpost, I knew I was on the right track. It is at this point when I set my eyes on the most imposing landmark in the area. I am talking about the towering Mount Muhabura.
Historically, Mount Muhabura was our forefathers’ ultimate landmark. This volcano used to lead their steps back home after trading or waging wars in the neighboring kingdoms. Muhabura was the guiding star that never faded. It directed the lost and revitalized the weary while solving dilemmas created by confusing crossroads.
The closer I got, the more challenging the ride became. The track got muddier and more slippery. This stretch is being upgraded. A layer of fresh soil is added to the old surface in an effort to make it smoother. My bike danced in circles as sticky, wet soil filled the tread depth of its tires, leading to poor traction. Eventually, the mudguards got stuck to the rubber, forcing me to stop every after a hundred meters or so to clear the filling.
Challenging rides create great adventure and everlasting memories. At the end of the day, I made it to the hill I was looking for: My Hill Ecolodge. From the terrace of this lodging facility, I saw all five volcanoes lined up along the northwestern border. I also saw Mount Mikeno’s cone-shaped summit soaring to the clouds somewhere between Bisoke and Karisimbi mountains. That was a sight to behold.
The author is on a tour of all 30 districts of Rwanda. His Musanze expedition is sponsored by My Hill Ecolodge, The Peakspot Lodge, Musanze Caves Hotel, Kingfisher Journeys, Crema Cafe, Migano Hotel, Volcano Residence, Beyond the Gorillas Experience and Ndaza Escape.