Congo Nile Trail Expert Advice 2021

UPDATE, July 2021: For the travel situation in Rwanda please see our Covid-19 page.

Congo Nile Trail map

Congo Nile Trail General Info

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 coast of Lake Kivu.

Fishing boats on the Congo Nile Trail

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 do recommend you take a great guide with you! Among Gorilla Highlands Experts we have César Niyonkuru, a hiking specialist, and Olivier Tuyisenge, a cycling guide featured in “Slow Travel” (3 op Reis/ BNNVARA). They are behind the information on this page.

Looking for a way to do the Congo Nile Trail in great company? In December 2021 we have something special taking place: the Gorilla Highlands Mega Trek!

General notes concerning the Congo Nile Trail:

  • 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 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

Congo Nile Trail Overnight Details

Cyimbiri

distance from Gisenyi: 18 km/11.2 mi
special attractions: traditional healing and dancing
unique transport solutions: public boat back to Rubavu
accommodation prices (in RWF): single 10,000; twin 15,000
meal prices (in RWF): dinner buffet 5,000; breakfast 3,000

Kinunu

distance from Cyimbiri: 15 km/9.3 mi
special attractions: bee keeping in Rugamba (on the way to Kinunu), one of the few populated islands nearby, Bugarura
unique transport solutions: public boat back to Rubavu
accommodation prices (in RWF): single 30,000 B&B; double 35,000 B&B; twin 45,000 B&B — these are the charges of Kinungu Guesthouse (pictured) but there is also a more upmarket option, Rushel Kivu Resort
meal prices (in RWF): dinner on order

Musasa

distance from Kinunu: 15 km/9.3 mi
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

distance from Kinunu: 29 km/18 mi
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): low-price options at the base camp from 10,000; more comfort available at Diana Fossey Rutsiro hotel
meal prices (in RWF): on order

Karongi (Kibuye)

distance from Bumba: 17 km/10.5 mi
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 — we have Home St Jean pictured as it tends to be the most popular option

Mugonero

distance from Karongi: 22 km/13.6 mi
special attractions: nearby sorghum experience
unique transport solutions: walking distance from public transport
accommodation prices (in RWF): 15,000 per person at the base camp — but you can also get fancy at Kivu Lodge
meal prices (in RWF): dinner 5,000, breakfast 3,000

Karengera

distance from Mugonero: 16 km/9.9 mi or 20 km/12.4 mi (if you opt for the route that includes a boat ride)
special attractions: /
unique transport solutions: walking distance from public transport
accommodation prices (in RWF): 15,000 per person, few rooms available
meal prices (in RWF): dinner 5,000; breakfast 3,000

Kumbya

distance from Karengera: 14 km/8.6 mi
special attractions: /
unique transport solutions: walking distance from public transport
accommodation prices (in RWF): 30,000 B&B at the Kumbya Kivu Life Ecolodge (pictured); there is also Kumbya Retreat Centre
meal prices (in RWF): dinner on order

Nyamasheke

distance from Kumbya: 14 km/8.6 mi
special attractions: pottery
unique transport solutions: walking distance from public transport
accommodation prices (in RWF): 20,000-50,000 at Ishara Beach Motel (pictured)
meal prices (in RWF): on order

Shangi

distance from Nyamasheke: 25 km/15.5 mi
special attractions: /
unique transport solutions: /
accommodation prices (in RWF): 10,000-20,000 — apologies, we do not have images of St Martin Guesthouse, a neat and simple Catholic establishment
meal prices (in RWF): on order

Rusizi (Cyangugu)

distance from Shangi: 20 km/12.4 mi
special attractions: borders Bukavu, the most beautiful city of this part of Africa
unique transport solutions: a hub, regular public transport to Kigali/Karongi — including daily flights to Kigali Airport!
accommodation and meal prices (in RWF): solutions for all budgets at numerous hotels

Don’t miss the Dutch Ultimate Hike pictorial from May 2021!

Please contact us for bookings or more information.