Hiking and camping. I love both. Any plan that combines the two activities never disappoints. When I was invited to indulge in the Mount Kabuye hike, followed by a night of camping on its summit, I canceled other plans, jumped on my bike and twisted the throttle all the way to Gakenke where the said mountain is located.
Soaring to the heights of 8,800 feet above sea level, Mount Kabuye is the highest elevation in Rwanda outside the Volcanoes National Park. Kabuye hike takes two to three hours, depending on the hiker’s pace and the starting point.
I arrived in the area late and decided to ride to the highest navigable point with a secure parking facility. From there, I hiked for about half an hour before summiting. It was a short hike but quite strenuous.
The campsite is run by Beyond the Gorillas Experiences (BGE), a social enterprise established to offer unparalleled ecotourism, cultural and community-based excursions — with emphasis on activities partaken outside the national parks.
I made it to the camp late. Darkness had enveloped the sky around the mountain and the landscapes beneath it. Illuminating lights from the surrounding settlements in the districts of Gakenke, Burera, Musanze, Rulindo, Gicumbi and parts of southwestern Uganda looked like little diamonds sprinkled on a dark surface.
Upon arrival, I took a warm bath and looked around hoping to see the campsite’s most celebrated landmark. I am talking about the bonfire. I expected to sit by the fire in the woods but my fellow campers preferred the warmth of the bar/restaurant area. 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.
The second day of their memorable weekend would see them ramble to the twin lakes and spend a night at Lake Ruhondo Beach Resort. From there, the plan was to cross the lake by boat and board taxi-motos to downtown Musanze.
We exchanged stories while chewing some corn from the neighboring farms. The corn delicacies were served as the first round of appetizers before the main course was placed on the dinner table. Adequate drinking water and fresh juice, not to mention aromatic and alcoholic beverages were at our disposal throughout the night.
When I woke up in the morning, I strolled around the crest. It was a beautiful sunny day. Visibility wouldn’t be better. From my vantage point, I saw a network of trails I usually pursue during my frequent off-road biking tours. I also saw the Kigali-Musanze highway. Vehicles traversing the tarmac looked like little toys. The view of the surrounding rolling hills was breathtaking but it was the mist-capped volcanoes that stole the show.
The author is an adventurer on a mission to discover what Rwanda has to offer. His Mount Kabuye Expedition was sponsored by Beyond the Gorillas Experiences (BGE). Follow his awe-inspiring tours on Twitter @GeoExposure.