Congo Nile Trail Expert Advice 2019

The Congo Nile watershed (the divide between the drainage basins of the two great rivers) has given a name to an extraordinary 10-day hiking adventure. It covers the 227 km/ 141 miles between the very north and the very south of the Rwandan cost of Lake Kivu.

Compared to the guide-based Gorilla Highlands Trails (dotted line on the map, reaching up to Bwindi NP in Uganda), the Congo Nile Trail is much more suitable for independent exploration. It is abundantly signposted and has well-established overnight options (numbered house symbols) wherever darkness is likely to find you.

César Niyonkuru

Still, we recommend you take a great guide with you — somebody like César Niyonkuru who generously shared his vast experience with the Gorilla Highlands team in August 2019. The photos, the sketch map items and the information below is all by César; feel free to contact us if you wish to connect with him and get other support in Rwanda, Uganda or DR Congo.

General notes:

  • it is not true that the Congo Nile Trail from Kibuye (Karongi) to Rusizi (Cyangugu) has lost its attractiveness because of tarmac; new paths have been developed
  • camping in your own tent is possible everywhere but at Musasa Homestay (#3a) at prices lower than rooms mentioned below
  • the Gisenyi (Rubavu) – Kibuye (Karongi) part can be done with a 4×4 vehicle or a motorbike 
  • the (R) symbol on the map means that the path includes river crossings that become tricky in the rainy season
Congo Nile Trail vista

The details:

Cymbiri (house symbol #1)

distance from Gisenyi: 18 km
special attractions: traditional healing and dancing
unique transport solutions: public boat back to Gisenyi
accommodation prices (in RWF): single 10,000; twin 15,000
meal prices (in RWF): dinner buffet 5,000; breakfast 3,000

Kinunu (house symbol #2)

distance from Cymbiri: 15 km
special attractions: bee keeping in Rugamba (on the way to Cymbiri), one of the few populated islands nearby, Bugarura
unique transport solutions: public boat back to Gisenyi
accommodation prices (in RWF): single 30,000 B&B; double 35,000 B&B; twin 45,000 B&B
meal prices (in RWF): dinner on order

Musasa Homestay (house symbol #3a)

distance from Kinunu: 15 km
special attractions: suitable for those who can’t make it to Bumba
unique transport solutions: /
accommodation prices (in RWF): 10,000 per person — the rooms are few and there is no campsite
meal prices (in RWF): on order

Bumba (house symbol #3b)

distance from Kinunu: 29 km
special attractions: the start of a newly discovered and therefore not signposted path to Kibuye that includes crossing by boat
accommodation and meal prices (in RWF): high-price options like Kinunu (#2); low-price options from 10,000
meal prices (in RWF): on order

Kibuye (Karongi)

distance from Bumba: 17 km
special attractions: the only Museum of the Environment in Africa, motorboat trips to several islands
unique transport solutions: a hub, regular public transport to any direction
accommodation and meal prices (in RWF): solutions for all budgets at numerous hotels

Fishing boats on the Congo Nile Trail

Mugonero (house symbol #4)

distance from Kibuye: 22 km
special attractions: nearby sorghum experience
unique transport solutions: /
accommodation prices (in RWF): 15,000 per person
meal prices (in RWF): dinner 5,000, breakfast 3,000

Karengera (house symbol #5)

distance from Mugonero: 16 km / 20 km (if you opt for the route that includes a boat ride)
special attractions: /
unique transport solutions: /
accommodation prices (in RWF): 15,000 per person
meal prices (in RWF): dinner 5,000; breakfast 3,000

Kumbya (house symbol #6)

distance from Karengera: 14 km
special attractions: /
unique transport solutions: /
accommodation prices (in RWF): 30,000 B&B
meal prices (in RWF): dinner on order

Nyamasheke (house symbol #7)

distance from Kumbya: 14 km
special attractions: pottery
unique transport solutions: /
accommodation prices (in RWF): 20,000-50,000
meal prices (in RWF): on order

Shangi (house symbol #8)

distance from Nyamasheke: 25 km
special attractions: /
unique transport solutions: /
accommodation prices (in RWF): 10,000-20,000
meal prices (in RWF): on order

Rusizi (Cyangugu)

distance from Shangi: 20 km
special attractions: borders Bukavu, the most beautiful city of this part of Africa
unique transport solutions: a hub, regular public transport to Kigali/Kibuye — including daily flights to Kigali Airport!
accommodation and meal prices (in RWF): solutions for all budgets at numerous hotels

More information: miha@gorillahighlands.com or +256 776 558 123