Cycling the Congo Nile Trail

Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes and lies on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The water running from one side of the lake will eventually reach the Nile and from the other it will reach the Congo River-that is why the cycle trail going along the lake is called the Congo-Nile trail.

I had rented a mountain bike from a friend of a friend for 15$ (phone no+250783532412) and had planned to take the ferry (4$) at 6am from the start of the trail in Gisenyi to the finish in Kibuye and then cycle the 100kms back to Gisenyi where I lived, but when I got to the port I was told by a restaurant owner called Patryk, who I had gotten to know earlier that the ferry was broken. Patrik suggested that I just cycled halfway to Kinunu and back and gifted me a bag full of chapatis for the road which I shared with some kids on my first stop after an hour of cycling.

The trail was rough, sometimes just plain mountain rock that could be very slippery when wet and the twenty or so bridges along the way were simply some logs put together so it was no road for cars, but mainly for walking which so many lokals were doing there. The landscape along the way was very beautiful, almost like small fjords in the lake with lots of islands and green vegetation.

I reached Kinunu after five hours of cycling, only stopping once for my chapati breakfast and once for buying water. Once there I was met by some drunk kids who must have been 12 years old and wanted me to drink groundnut beer with them. I joined them for one drink in a bar where people were completely wasted, having been drinking since the church ceremony in the morning. The only food that it was possible to get in Kinunu was potato chips and beans so I had a plate and was soon on my way back to Gisenyi again.

Along the way back I met lots of children who were riding home made wooden bikes which was fascinating. I also came across a village where around a hundred people where jumping up and down to hallelujah music in the rain. I almost wanted to join them.

Finally reaching Gisenyi around 5pm. After almost ten hours of cycling the 120kms or so, my body was beaten and my clothes were drenched from rain and sweat. I went back to the hot springs, put my dirty clothes in the boiling hot water to wash and grabbed a warm normal beer and a muddy local banana beer before I sank in and completely melted into the pool. Mission completed.