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Canoeing along the meandering course of Mukungwa River

Canoeing along the meandering course of Mukungwa River

Photo credit: Kingfisher Journeys

During my last trip to Mukungwa River, I joined a small group of domestic tourists and participated in a canoeing tour courtesy of Kingfisher Journeys. We paddled for three hours and covered ten kilometers.

Mukungwa flows from Rugezi swamp to Nyabarongo River via the Twin Lakes located in the Northern Province of Rwanda. It rolls southwards through gorges and falls helping to generate electricity along the way.

We glided along the meandering watercourse leaving behind trails of whirlpools. Kids from neighbouring villages gathered on both sides of the river and cheered. Their comments confirmed something I had already noticed. It is rare to see Rwandans partaking this excursion.

The channel had a way of speeding up and slowing down our canoes at different stages. As gentle as it looked, the current overpowered us from time to time. I remember being swayed astray several times. Whenever I lost control, I took it easy and let the velocity get me back on track.

My new friends paddling behind us experienced balancing issues at some point and their canoe turned upside down causing a splash and loud screams. Nonetheless, they seemed to enjoy their unplanned swimming session.

The highlight of the day was the whitewater stage under the bridge. Here, rapids and turbulence shook my canoe violently. I tried to avoid panicking despite a sudden surge of adrenaline.

Farther down, the river is divided into two tributaries. We pursued the right hand side one following recommendations from our guide. While navigating through this area, we worked harder to keep up with the twisting and turning as the course became narrower and corners became sharper.

I was overwhelmed by the excitement of steering my canoe down the stream while learning rowing techniques. Despite being preoccupied with new adventure, I still caught a glimpse of the hustle and bustle birds endure in their day to day lives. I was amazed by their impressive work ethic, attention to detail and resilient spirit. Ever since, I have been paying more attention to their endeavors and each birding experience has been memorable.

Some of these creatures perform tasks that are similar to jobs people do. Did you know that some birds work as interior designers? Wildlife will never stop amazing me!

As I propelled my canoe one stroke at a time while poking my nose into other birds’ affairs, I saw a lot of construction projects. Busy birds were building neat penthouses and camouflaging them with moss. Their construction work requires developed skills and advanced level of expertise. Superb work ethic, exemplary team work, impressive resilient spirit, profound communication skills - I can go on and on trying to phrase my observation.

When we crossed the finish line, the driver was already there waiting for us. As I stepped on the river bank and walked to the car, I began to digest everything I had observed and absorbed. I had seen this river numerous times before but I couldn’t discover its magic until I paddled along its course.

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