Rwanda - Mountain Biking the Congo-Nile-Trail, November 2015

In 1994/5 Anton and I were working in Rwanda as UN Civilian Police Officer and UN Human Rights Officer. We arrived some months after the Genocide during which up to one million Tutsi were murdered. Our task was to contribute to the improvement of the human rights situation and to assist the newly established police force in Gisenyi / North-West Rwanda.

Reconnected through Facebook we decided 20 years later to return to our old “area of responsibility” which in the meantime has become a tourist destination. Our plan was to mountain bike a section of the Congo Nile trail. The part from Gisenyi (which is now called Rubavu) to Kibuye follows the Lake Kivu, is 110 km long and normally takes three days. The total Congo Nile trail is 227 km long and can be walked in 10 days or completed by bicycle in five days. The trail leads through a stunning countryside far away from any major traffic. One soon realizes why Rwanda is called the Land of the Thousand Hills - the trail is constant up and down…

A few explanations:

  1. Rwanda’s capital Kigali since 1995 has experienced a remarkable development.

  2. Travel by road from Kigali to Gisenyi. Bicycles are still a major tool to transport local products.

  3. The Hotel Meridian in Gisenyi - severely ransacked and looted in 1994/5 - served as office building for several UN organizations including the one I was working for. It has now been converted into a fancy Serena Hotel which is used for wedding ceremonies.

  4. Pictures from our work in 1994/5 with UN Civilian Police and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

  5. Congo Nile Trail

  • Day one: Giseniy to Kinunu; 40 km, close to seven hours; many ascents; the most tiring section of the whole trip.

  • Day two: Kinunu to Bumba; 40 km, close to seven hours with some technically demanding sections.  

  • Day three: Bumba to Kismayo; 30 km, three to four hours.

  • At the end of the day there was always a hard choice to make: Mützig or Primus?

6. Visit at the famous mountain gorrillas near Ruhangeri (June 1995).