From the rooftop of the highest building in Nyamasheke, I saw Lake Kivu, the meandering Kivu Belt highway and the Congo Nile Trail. From the same spot, I saw Idjwi Island and a cluster of smaller isles scattered across the lake. Some of them looked like dots on the verge of being erased by the waves.
On the other side of the building, Muzimu and Rengero mountains straddle near the edge of Nyungwe National Park. The two elevations form part of the Congo Nile Divide. The trail and the divide are probably confusing you. I will explain.
The Congo Nile Trail is an off-road track attracting adventurers who wish to explore the Kivu Belt while burning calories. The 221-km route spans from Rubavu to Rusizi via Rutsiro, Karongi and Nyamasheke. Tourists are free to cover parts of the trail that suit their itineraries and preferences.
I have never toiled along the whole path but I am familiar with many short segments. I have a confession though: I passed through some of those stretches on a motorbike instead of rambling on foot or cycling like everybody else. Using a fuel-burning combustion engine on this off-the-beaten path feels like cheating.
The Congo Nile Divide, on the other hand, is the watershed that separates the drainage systems of the Congo and the Nile — Africa’s most iconic rivers. This unique geographical feature forms one of the most intriguing landscapes in the area.
I was standing on top of the tallest structure in the premises of Groupe Scolaire Umucyo Karengera — near the Karengera base camp of the aforementioned trail. I climbed the building in order to have a better view of the lake, the forest and the watershed but it’s the neighboring Karengera market that stole the show.
I was surrounded by some of the most coveted tourist attractions in the region but the market managed to attract my attention. Even under the shadow of popular attractions, the commercial street of Karengera can’t be overlooked.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Nyamasheke is sponsored by Nyamasheke District, The Click Creations, Tec Global Ltd, Elimo Real Estate Ltd and Exposure.