The Congo Nile Trail is a trail along Lake Kivu that extends from Rubavu, continues through Rutsiro via the Karongi, Nyamasheke districts and ends at Rusizi District.
227 km (141 miles) of beautiful landscapes, including rolling hills and clear water. The entire trek can be completed in a 10- day hike. However, the trip can be done in sections if travelers do not have the time to complete the entire trail. Trails give stunning views of the Lake Kivu coastline and offer adventurous travelers an exciting way to discover Rwanda.
Biking the Congo Nile Trail can be completed in 5 days, with rich views and immersive cultural experiences along the way. This trail appeals to adventure travelers and is a great way to experience Rwanda. The trail can also be split up if visitors do not have the time to commit to the 5 day journey. However, it is an experience worth selling to those who crave an off the beaten path adventure
Imagine a stretch of primitive dirt roads and single trails winding through verdant jungle and farmland, exuberant children cheering and chasing as if you were riding for Team Rwanda. There are banana trees, coffee plantations, small fishing communities, and colorfully dressed women carrying impossibly large bundles of firewood, bananas, and avocados to market. To your right, peninsulas of terraced hillsides create the amorphous coastline of Lake Kivu and countless islets dot its sparking waters. The track pulls away from the lake and ascends into the crisp air that surrounds the enchanting emerald tea plantations, where pickers shear an endless wave of black tea. The route continues to ascend along the divide that separates the Nile and Congo rivers, hence the name. Rugged dirt roads turn in to a faint path that enters the thick Nyungwe rainforest in which the call of chimpanzees can be heard; there’s a good chance that you’ll encounter orchid, tropical birds, butterflies, chameleon, and at least one of 13 species of primates.
Whether you’re keen to tackle the trail with paddles, pedals, or pieds (feet), the RDB publishes a detailed map available for free at any of their offices in Gisenyi, Musanze, or Kigali, which can point you in all the right directions. Featuring detailed descriptions of the day-to-day trail conditions, walking times, elevation changes, camping facilities, and not to mention more than a few of the unforgettable sights along the way, the RDB map is everything you need to get you from Gisenyi to Kamembe and everywhere in between. If you don’t have the time to commit to the whole 10-day excursion, there’s still plenty to see on any stretch of the trail, and the map also features the rarely-trod sub-trails at Pfunda (for tea lovers), Gisovu, and Shangi. Side trips from the trail abound as well, and the RDB can even help you paddle over to the otherworldly Nkombo Island if you’d like to stretch your trip just that tiny bit further
Planning your Trip
It may seem at first like there are a lot of options when it comes to exploring the trail, but there’s no wrong way to do it. With 227km of magnificent forests, plantations, villages, and vistas over the lake, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got 1 day or 10, you’re sure to come away smiling. Given the safety of the region and the warm welcome offered in all the villages along the way, self-guided backpackers can hike the trail end to end with a few supplies, a bit of confidence and a good map, or more luxurious travellers can set up a fully guided experience complete with porters, cooks, and an English-speaking guide. Any of the RDB offices can put you in touch with a recommended tour agency to set up your fully customizable trip, or simply give you advice on the latest trail conditions and which bit of trail would best fit your budget, time, and interests.