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Touring Lake Kivu Aboard Iliza Houseboat

Touring Lake Kivu Aboard Iliza Houseboat

We set sail in the afternoon and cruised around a cluster of islands I am obsessed with. As we did so, we marveled at those picturesque isles that look like floating gardens. It felt like the first time. It always feels like the first time.

We occupied the deck of Iliza Houseboat and enjoyed an obstruction-free 360° view of the lake and its surrounding landscape. The sight of the gentle waves, Karongi’s jagged shoreline and the green isles was breathtaking.

While bypassing Amahoro Island, which happens to be my favorite picnic site, we saw a wooden motorized boat dropping a group of domestic tourists. Amahoro means peace and the atmosphere on the island is peaceful. It is a sanctuary attracting those who seek to reclaim their lost peace of mind. Dr. Diana Perdue, founder of Rimwe Education Resources and an avid traveler, described Amahoro Island as a little slice of heaven on earth. According to her, the island arouses dreams of paradise.

I took a close look at Monkey Island, hoping to see my foes-turned-friends. I am talking about the little monkeys who once stole my lunch. After the lunch stealing incident, I held a grudge against them for a while. As our beef grew stronger and stronger, I realized that they were also victims of theft and I was the culprit. The guavas I picked the day I invaded their territory belong to them. The realization that I was equally guilty made me initiate peace talks which ultimately led to a reconciliation.

I would have loved to drop by the island named after its inhabitants and share some bananas with them but time wasn’t on our side. We proceeded toward Nyamunini Island or Napoleon’s hat as referred to by many. Nyamunini is a very steep hill. This cone-shaped elevation offers great hiking experiences and panoramic views of the lake and its gorgeous islands. On a good day, hikers can see the Virunga mountains soaring to the clouds along the northwestern border.

We saw a team of fishermen paddling their boats to their fishing spot. The fishermen in question were propelling three boats in unison while singing motivational songs. Singing boosts their morale and enhances their cohesion.

We left the fishermen alone and drifted farther offshore. As the luxury vessel was steered toward the interior of the lake, we spent some time admiring the sunset. During sunset, the turquoise water turns indigo and the sky glows. Watching the sun dropping behind the rolling hills on the other side of the lake is a spectacle you would want to witness one day.

The mini party thrown on Iliza’s deck continued after sunset. On our way back to where it all started, we saw the fishermen mentioned above doing what they do best — waiting patiently for their trap to catch those sardine-like delicacies known as sambaza. They had stretched their nets underneath the three boats and set up lit lanterns. The light from the lanterns is used to attract fish which blindly fall prey to the trick.

It was getting late and the rooftop area was getting chilly. We climbed down the stairs and sat in the dining room which also doubles as the fourth bedroom. We had dinner composed of fresh fish from the lake and organic supplies from neighboring farms. Yes, there are bedrooms and a dining room inside Iliza Houseboat. Obviously, there is a kitchen and a bathroom too. Iliza is a house. A pretty lavish one.

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