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Discovering the Congo Nile Divide

Discovering the Congo Nile Divide

The Congo Nile Trail spans from Rubavu to Rusizi in the Western Province of Rwanda. The trail attracts energetic adventurers determined to discover the hidden gems of the Kivu Belt through the off-the-beaten-path. Trekkers need ten days to complete the entire passage while cyclists can do so in five days. However, one can choose a specific stage instead of completing the entire trail.

The first time I hit the trail, I rambled from Inzu Lodge in the outskirts of Rubavu town to Cyimbiri Falls. From there, I hitched a ride to a small village known as Nkora found in Rutsiro District. When I made it to Nkora, I camped at a coffee washing station owned by CAFERWA.

My latest Congo Nile Trail’s adventure took place within the Karongi segment of the track. I covered this stretch on Indakangwa, a 250cc made-in-Rwanda adventure motorcycle.

From downtown Karongi, I pulled the throttle and headed to the mountains bordering Nyungwe forest. As I approached the forest, it started raining. Nyungwe is a rainforest. It rains often in and around the forest. When it rains, it pours. 70% of rain watering the Rwandan soil falls there.

I had a stopover on the hills of Gitesi Sector and interacted with one senior citizen namely Sesunga Alexander. Alexander has an interesting perspective of life in his environment but that’s the topic for another day.

When the weather improved, I resumed the tour. Shortly afterward, it started pouring again. This time, it was even heavier. Equipped with waterproof gear, I proceeded to the magical Rugabano area. It is here where I discovered the Congo Nile divide — the watershed separating the drainage systems of Congo and Nile rivers.

I like visiting places on sunny days but I was glad to discover Rugabano on a rainy day. The rain helped me to understand why the trail I pursued is named after the two iconic rivers. The downpour was a perfect demonstration of how the rainwater is dispatched to two different drainage systems.

One of those green Rugabano hills left me speechless. Rainwater falling on the eastern part of the said hill flows to the Nile basin while the rain falling on the western side of the same hill goes to the Congo basin. There is a house on top of this hill covered by a cone-shaped roof. Water dropping on the eastern side of the house feeds the Nile while the western side of the same roof sends water to the Congo.

While in the area, I saw the point at which Mwogo and Mbirurume rivers merge to form the popular Nyabarongo. The farthest source of the Nile can be traced from this adjoining point.

The author is on a tour of all 30 districts of Rwanda. His Karongi expedition is sponsored by The Click Creations, Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, Kivu Tours and Travel, Rebero Kivu Resort and Imari Hose Ltd.

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