Photo Credit: Kingfisher Journeys
Years ago, my screensaver was a beautiful image of Amahoro Island. I used to admire that image every day until it stuck on my mind and conquered my heart. Sadly, I had no idea where that gorgeous island was and how I could find it. I had been to the northern tip of Lake Kivu several times before but I wasn’t aware of the existence of such an island in the said lake.
Coincidentally, the first island I visited in this lake happened to be Amahoro. The same island whose image I used to see first thing in the morning. The same island I used to admire every day without a slight clue of its location. According to a surveyor commissioned by the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) whose report was made public in 2012, there are 250 islands in Lake Kivu, 56 of them happen to be on the Rwandan side of the lake.
I wasn’t responsible for the choice of my screensaver. It was installed by the previous user of my computer. When I adopted the machine, I loved the picture and decided to keep it. I wasn’t responsible for the choice of my first destination in the Kivu archipelago either. When I visited Karongi for the first time and decided to tour one island, the boat operator recommended Amahoro and I had no objection.
As we sailed towards the island and got closer and closer, our destination looked more and more familiar. It was my first time there but I had seen this picturesque island on my screen countless times before. It took me a while to connect my old screensaver to the reality. When I finally did, my dream came true.
Upon arrival, I spotted broken kitchen appliances, fallen roofs and rotting volleyball nets. The three-hectare piece of land whose image had kidnapped my heart for a long time looked abandoned. According to our boatman, there used to be a bar on the island but he wasn’t sure why it was closed down and eventually demolished.
The surface of the island is covered by eucalyptus trees, savannah grass and mixed riparian forest vegetation. There is a sandy beach area as well. Logs sculptured to form unique chairs and tables are placed on the sand.
Amahoro means peace and the atmosphere on the island is peaceful. It is an ideal place for those who seek to reclaim their lost peace of mind. Dr. Diana Perdue, founder of Rimwe Educational Resources and an avid traveler described Amahoro Island as a little slice of heaven. It arouses dreams of paradise.
I took a walk around the island and encountered a slew of birds. On the shore, trees lean 45° towards the lake. Some branches bend as low as the level of the gentle waves. During sunset, blue water turns indigo as the sky glows. Watching the sun drop into the lake is a spectacle you would want to witness one day.