Photo Credit: Kingfisher Journeys
About a decade 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 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 the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), there are 250 islands in Lake Kivu. 56 of them are 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 visit a random island, the boat operator recommended Amahoro. I had no objection.
As we sailed toward the island and got closer and closer, our destination looked 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 3-hectare piece of land, whose image had kidnapped my heart for a long time, looked abandoned. According to my tour guide, 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 guava 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 a getaway sanctuary recommended for those who seek to reclaim their lost peace of mind. Dr. Diana Perdue described Amahoro as a little slice of heaven. It arouses dreams of paradise.
I took a walk around the island and encountered a slew of birds and one little monkey who wasn’t bothered by my presence. The lone primate was later moved to Monkey Island which is a designated monkey habitat.
On the shore, trees lean 45 degrees toward the surface of the lake. Some branches bend as low as the level of the gentle waves. During sunset, the water illuminates and the sky glows. Watching the sun dropping into the lake is a spectacle you would want to see one day.
The author is a travel enthusiast currently visiting all 30 districts and 416 sectors of Rwanda. Follow his awe-inspiring journey on Twitter @GeoExposure