Living to Eat: Digesting Our First Food Tour

Welcome to the Gorilla Highlands archives. For fresh stories don't miss the Gorilla Highlands Experts Blog.

“Do we eat to live — or do we live to eat?” we asked ourselves as we sat down at the veranda last Saturday. Awaiting lunch at the Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel in Musanze, we were embarking on a daring new Gorilla Highlands chapter… Half a year after we began working on Local Experiences, here it was: our first tour! A culinary tour.

It was a scheduling coincidence that a food-themed trip opened our collection of experiences for the domestic market, but it felt right. If we are known for anything locally, we are known for the Gorilla Highlands Silverchef cooking competition. Wouldn’t you trust such a flavour-friendly team to show you interesting places to eat interesting stuff?

Three ladies gave us their vote of confidence: Claudine and Ketty are Kigalians who work with a tour operator in Kigali, and Liz is a British teacher in the same city. That clientele was, honestly, not exactly enough to pay the tour bills but, hey, one needs to start somewhere!

We knew this would be an uphill battle, convincing Rwandans to explore their country’s delicious bounty, or to successfully reach out to those who can actually afford it… But in this brave new world of a global pandemic you need to be — brave, right? Plus, the fact that we still have some hungry expatriates around should certainly help.

We also knew that you cannot count on anything after eight months of COVID-19, so we paid advance visits to all tour partners. But we didn’t know that eight months of cars sitting idle at their parking lots could spell trouble… Until we learned! Two different vehicles broke down in one day, imagine. That was thankfully the only serious challenge we encountered during the two-day Gisenyi Foodie Treat, and we solved it easily. The rest was a delight.

The only partner with no previous experience entertaining travellers, traditional doctor Mr. Neza, impressed us all with this knowledge and hospitality. We tested his recipe of mixing honey and sesame — it was delicious — and memorised a number of things to try at home. Chef Nicholas at Five Volcanoes, Saad with his Scoops ice cream in Musanze, Ayman with his Moroccan goodies in Gisenyi, the Imbabazi team with a country lunch in Mudende and Patrick with Rwanda’s only chocolate in Musanze all did great, as expected.

But once you frame something as a culinary tour, it matters how a foodie will perceive it… The biggest food lover on board was Claudine, and when she said this was one of the best trips she had ever tried, that was the seal of approval we needed!

For more images and itinerary details please see the tour page

If you have a taste for fun and fine flavours, we can organise the tour for you any time. We will also develop a self-guided version of the trip in the future, if that is your cup of tea.

Our upcoming weekend with Local Experiences will answer a rather different question: “Do we live to live — or do we live to live?” Sounds confusing? Have a look at the Kinigi Power Wellness program…

text and photo: Miha Logar