Distance: 142km (Cumulative: 17 677km)
Moving time: 3:55
Average speed: 36km/h
Road surface: 100% Tar
Home Saint Jean - R40 p.p
Camping on paved parking lot, beautiful views and hot showers
We set an alarm for 06:30 with the idea of leaving by 07:00 to be at Uwinka at 08:00. According to the receptionist at KCCEM most hikes leave at 08:00 from Uwinka which was only 26km away.
We only managed to leave by 07:30 and then took more than an hour to get to Uwinka. We arrived just before 09:00. Luckily another groups’ breakfast had been delayed and they were only leaving at 09:00. There are plenty of hikes to choose from and some other hikes were going to start at 11:00 and at 13:00. Most of the hikes were $40 per person. We decided to take the 09:00 hike that was leaving soon. The group actually left while we were still paying and we had to run to catch up with them.
As with most guided activities, we would have preferred to just walk through the forest on our own. In the group, there were two other South Africans who have been living and working in Rwanda for a few months at a cement factory. A couple from Belgium was really annoyed with the guide as they wanted to start hiking at 08:00 already as they wanted to get back to Kigali the same day. So when the guide said we had to wait for 20 minutes while three people who paid extra to the canopy walk they were really pissed and just walked ahead causing some tension in the group.
The forest was really beautiful, but not as dense and Tarzan like as the Bwindi Impenetrable forest in Uganda. We also only saw blue monkeys (not the same as SA’s blue monkeys, they were dark brown and didn’t have blue genitals, but rather made the sound ‘blue’.) and L’Hoests monkeys also called mountain monkeys.
The walk took about 3 hours, so we were back at the reception around noon. We checked out the campsite as we were considering to camp there. The normal price is $30 per tent, so Konrad would have to $30 by himself which is quite steep. The tented campsite is almost a kilometer from the parking area down a narrow path set in the beautiful forest. The tents are however very close together and on wooden decks, not really the ideal camping setup.
If we wanted to sleep in the rooftop tent we would have had to camp next to a bulldozer with no real view. Caro still wanted to stay as she was tired, but after making toasted sandwiches in the parking lot the decision was made to continue to Kibuye.
We left at 14:15 and got to Kibuye past 17:00. The road was really beautiful, first passing through the rest of the forest and then along the shore of Lake Kivu. The road was proper tar road all the way.
The South Africans suggested we go to Bethanie Hotel, but on iOverland, we saw that Home Saint Jean had camping for 5000 RWF versus 12000 at Bethanie. We arrived at Home Saint Jean and found out that we would have to camp on the paved parking lot, but that it was only 5000 RWF for the tent, thus only 2500 (R40) per person. The cheapest campsite since Namibia. The views were also amazing.
We made food together with Konrad on the parking lot and shared a beer, talking till late at night. The backpackers/guesthouse was quite busy with lots of other muzungus. A big group of French Canadians was staying there among others.
The next morning we took our hammocks and went down to the lake. There’s a sign that says ‘no swimming’, but according to the manager it is just for when the inspectors come and it is, in fact, OK to swim. We thus swam and relaxed in the hammocks until noon.
We made toasted sandwiches again for lunch and then wanted to do some month-end administration, but the WiFi was terribly slow. Wanderwheels mentioned that they had very fast WiFi at Bethanie Hotel so we decided to go there for dinner and to use their WiFi.
We took Boda-Bodas to the other side of the peninsula for 500 RWF each. The views from Bethanie were almost more amazing with the sun setting over the lake stretching to the horizon. Initially, the WiFi didn’t work at the restaurant and Hugo had to go to the reception which was quite far from the restaurant up a steep hill to enquire what was going on.
Caro eventually just gave up and enjoyed the sunset with Konrad while Hugo quickly sent invoices from reception. We had a basket of Fish Goujons, Kapenta like fish and chicken wings for dinner. After dinner, the WiFi started working in the restaurant so Caro uploaded some photo albums to the blog until almost 21:00.
Getting back to Home Saint Jean cost us 1000 RWF per person. We then had some beers at the restaurant while playing card games again till late at night.