5 Reasons Why Families Should Visit Rubavu

Rwanda may be commonly known for gorilla treks when it comes to tourism, but the country has a lot more to offer. Rubavu District is a prime example. As the locale for Rwanda’s best beaches and lakeside resorts, the district’s reputation is growing among local families and foreign visitors alike.

A New Times journalist recently visited Rubavu as part of a media tour to promote domestic tourism and ticked off some of his favorite attractions. “What’s so great about them?” you ask. We dug around to find out.

 PHOTO:  STEFAN KRASOWSKI .

1. The Congo-Nile Trail

This diverse and beautiful nature trail stretches along Lake Kivu and runs from Rubavu through Rutsiro, Karongi, and Nyamasheke to Rusizi District. You can hike, bike, or drive the 227-kilometer trail. Hiking the full stretch takes 10 days. The Rwanda Development Board provides a free trail map with information such as hiking conditions, local attractions, and camping sites.

What visitors are saying: 

“We kept thinking as we were walking…why aren’t we seeing more tourists here? This is incredible! … Go walk this trail NOW before too many tourists discover it!” – Michelle B., TripAdvisor

“A great 4×4 adventure which can be tackled in a hire car and gets you out of the tourist traps and into the beautiful country of Rwanda.” -David B., TripAdvisor

2. Pfunda Tea Estate

This is the perfect spot for tea lovers as visitors get a guided tour of the plantation. They also learn the manufacturing process that transforms green tea leaves into a product that’s ready for packaging and shipping throughout East Africa and abroad.

What visitors are saying: 

“We ended our trip at the Pfunda Tea Company factory. Two thousand people work on the Pfunda Tea Estate, and the company also runs a cooperative for area tea farmers. All the tea is raised without pesticides, and, in February 2011, Pfunda Tea Company became the first company in Rwanda to obtain Rainforest Alliance certification.” -Cynthia Goodson, enclos*ure

3. Gishwati-Mukura National Park

This is the newest national park in Rwanda, and park officials are creating more hiking trails for visitors to see a wide variety of primates, including chimpanzees, the black and white colobus monkeys, l’hoest monkeys (also known as mountain monkeys), blue monkeys, and golden monkeys.

No visitor reviews yet, but you can bet they’ll be flooding in soon. 

4. Mountain Hiking

Rubavu offers a variety of mountain hiking activities that appeal not only to the fittest hikers, but also the casual walkers. On Mount Rubavu, you can participate in a brief hike that will reward you with a stunning view of Gisenyi, the capital of Rubavu District. For a more challenging hike, make your way up Mount Muhungwe, the highest non-volcanic peak in Rubavu. The seven-hour journey winds through mountain villages and provides panoramic views. If that sounds too easy, then consider a two-day hike up Mount Karisimbi, the highest peak in the Virunga Mountains.

What visitors are saying:

“Karisimbi Volcano Climb – Had a fantastic experience climbing Rwanda’s highest volcano. You need to be in good shape with the right kit and you camp at 3700m overnight before the final summit push.” -Makalu8000, TripAdvisor 

5. Kayaking on Lake Kivu

Apart from hiking and biking, adventure seekers can also participate in water sports on Lake Kivu. Kayaking and swimming are among the most popular as the water is calm and crocodile free. Or you can simply sit on the shore and watch the fishing boats come in at sunset.

What visitors are saying:

“Lake Kivu is probably the safest lake in Africa. With crystal clear, deep blue waters and no hippos or crocs, you can swim and explore, discover and now you can also journey in modern sea kayaks along its verdant shores. And sea kayaking has to be the best way to see Lake Kivu!” -Steve V., TripAdvisor

This article originally appeared on MindSky