Ill be honest, I had never heard of Lake Kivu until my trip, in fact I didn’t know Rwanda had any water bodies (don’t judge, my geography is a bit wanting). I imagined Rwanda to be a country with lush vegetation and many hills that harbour gorillas, but there is more to it with Lake Kivu being a prime example.
Lake Kivu is a great lake that expands between Rwanda and Congo with the major town in Rwanda being Gisenyi. The landscape in this region is varied with hills and great expanses of water that provide amazing scenery. I don’t associate lakes with beaches, but i was pleasantly surprised to find a great expanse of beach with fine brown sand and was exceptionally clean; I got real coastal vibes minus palm trees, seaweed or salty water. While on the beach, watching sunsets and locals swimming was a favourite past time of mine.
Since Gisenyi is a border town, there are many Congolese who whenever I told i was from Nairobi, they would quickly relay their amazement on how great the city was. It got me thinking how lucky i am to be a Kenyan, and how fortunate we are as a country to not have been ravaged by war.
Fish By The Lake
When it came to food, my main ambition was to have fish since we were in a lake town. The journey to having this fish was quite the adventure, as we hopped on motorbikes that took us up many hills and dusty roads that gave us a glimpse of village life. We had fish at a restaurant located by the lake shore whose name I can’t recall ( its opposite across the lake from the hot springs).
To start off, you have to buy your fish from ladies located outside the gate, who clean and gut the fish for you before taking it to the restaurant kitchen. I literally purchased and waited for the fish while seated on a motorbike which was awkwardly cool. This was the epitome of freshness and it got me excited for this meal.
The Fish is butterflied, grilled over charcoal and lightly basted with a tomato based sauce. I’ve never had grilled whole fish and when it arrived on the table it was quite a spectacle. The fish is cooked simply and the grill imparts great flavour making the fish smoky yet delicate. The fact that the fish is so fresh and cooked to order, contributed greatly to the amazingness of this dish. Eating delicious fish while seated by the lake shore was one of my happiest moments this year.
Café Calafia has a real hipster vibe where dreadlocked and tie and die clad people would thrive. The chairs adorned in African fabric, and the colourful artwork on the walls gives the place an effortless charm as well as making it one of a kind. The café serves healthy food such as salads, sandwiches and smoothies and uses organic produce. I had a chicken sandwich that came with a salad as well as a mango smoothie. Both items tasted amazing with the highlight being how fresh everything was. My experience here was great and I feel this is a perfect spot to relax over good food.
Pic from Trip Advisor by Cafe Management
My overall trip to Lake Kivu was beautiful and I wouldn’t change a thing. The food, scenery, accommodation and the people provided an unforgettable experience. Gisenyi is the perfect place for some R&R where you can completely relax and be still. I had no desire to visit Rwanda let alone Lake Kivu yet the impact the trip had on me was tremendous. My biggest sentiment from this trip was as follows – When the most unimaginable opportunities come your way, receive them with stride no matter how bewildering it may feel , because it’s Gods orchestration to remove you from the usual so he can reveal to you the extraordinary.