The second stop on my overland tour through Rwanda in the spring was in Gisenyi, where we stayed at the Lake Kivu Serena and spent a day cruising around the lake by boat.
OK, not this boat, per se, but a proper speedboat. Towering above the Gisenyi end of the lake is the active Nyiragongo Volcano, which actually lies in Congo, forever smoking and giving the ominous feel that it’s going to erupt at any point.
Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes and Rwanda’s equivalent of Lake Tahoe—a waterfront vacation spot—though much bigger. It covers a surface area of more than 1,000 square miles (versus Tahoe’s 190)!
Small towns and islands dotted the lake. We made a few stops, first to try some banana rum and other libations—and take copious amounts of photos of this charming Rwandan man. He was just too darn photogenic and already dressed for the occasion!
Fruit bats reign supreme in this area. There were, literally, thousands in the tree just outside of our hotel, and we cruised by a tiny islet where another clan of bats were causing quite the commotion. (We chose not to stop at this particular spot.)
The next place we offloaded was in a Congolese village, where the natives were ready for us, donning their most colorful frocks and busting some serious moves.
I’d be leading you on if I said we showed up and they just happened to be singing and dancing already. Well, actually, that is how it went—but they definitely knew we were coming. Visitors can pay money to come and observe such an act when traveling around the lake.
Even the little kids were getting in on the action, making me much more aware of my incoordination when it comes to dancing. I was perfectly fine sitting on the sidelines watching the spectacle and taking pictures of the other bystanders.
I’ve said this before, but I just can’t get over how the tiny little women haul around these cherub babies on their backs like so. Talk about needing a chiropractor later on in life!
But even more impressive were the young kids who toted around their not-that-much-younger siblings like it’s no big deal.
After an hour or so, we boarded the boat once again: It was time to go to the Congo. Or the border, rather. We actually did venture into the Republic of Congo, technically speaking, as the dividing line is somewhere in the middle of the lake.
But to reach it by land, you have to cross this footpath. None of us were so bold at the time. It took all the bravery I had to shoot some covert photos from the hip (I’m pretty sure my camera would have been confiscated had the border guards seen me). Oh well, next trip….
*All photos taken with a Canon T1i, Canon 17-85mm lens, Sigma 10-20mm lens and housed in a LowePro SlingShot.
**For more Rwanda coverage, click here. For more Photo Friday fun, visit Delicious Baby.
Wow. Sounds like an amazing experience, and you got such vibrant, cool photos. I have a friend working in Liberia. I lived in Egypt for a couple years as a kid, but I would love to do to central or southern Africa.
Beautiful! My (ex)BFF’s cousin’s name is Gisenyi, so surprisingly, this is not the first I’ve heard of the place!
You really do have the coolest job EVER.
What a great post. I LOVE the pictures. We went on a one day ‘cruise’ down the Mekong river. The boat was extremely basic. We got a similar reception when we arrived in the town, amazing.
That volcano shot is perfection! What gorgeous children–their smiles steal my heart.
Oh my gosh, K, these photos are making me emotional. Why? Because I am over here in Canada, my 7-month-old strapped on my back in my organic Ergo carrier…but in another part of the world -Rwanda- there are mothers and sisters with babies strapped on their backs as well. I felt an instant connection to these images as a mother. The children – they are just so beautiful! They do have an “old” look in their eyes, though. Like they are old souls. It just breaks my heart that merely a decade ago, many Rwandans were lost to genocide. Thanks for sharing!
I just love all the fabulous shots that you got of those precious kiddos!
What a magnificent place and beautiful people.
i have been to Rwanda a couple of times, its a very beautiful place. but i havent gone where you have gone
Great photos – especially that first one of the boat!
Kristin! Spectacular. I’m speechless with just how beautiful these are and the story that each image tells!
I love the picture of the two little girls busting a move. They’re so intense!
stunning photo-essay of Rwanda. your images truly tell a story. thanks for sharing your experiences of overland adventure and Lake Kivu Serena.
Had no idea that Rwanda was so stuning.
Again, super photos. They bring the people to life. I found that banana rum addictive. I had way too much