Musanze is the most mountainous district in the country of ten thousand hills, it houses several volcanoes such as Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura. It is also home to gorilla tracking and some beautiful hikes.
North east to the capital, Ruhengeri is one of the most neglected gems of Rwanda, two lakes Burera and Ruhondo lie. These magnificent lakes formed due to volcanic activity are only separated by a strip of land 1km wide. The reason they are called twin lakes is due to the huge pipe leading water from Lake Burera onto Lake Ruhondo.
Visiting the twin lakes is a journey to the unknown, completely off the beaten path. A friend and I decided to cycle to the lakes, finding a bicycle rental was easy, there are several companies offering bicycle rentals. Most of the quoted prices are bloated and it takes a strong negotiation spirit to get the prices from $70 per day to $15.
Always look for the fool in the deal. If you don’t find one, it is you
Cycling to the lakes from Musanze is moderately intensive for it is generally uphill. It is an approximately 16km ride on tarmac and an extra 7km on dirt road. A road bike will not survive this dirt road, so it is better to bring a touring bike or a mountain bike. There are very few cars driving down the road so you can definitely own the road. Like any village in Rwanda, there are tens of kids patrolling the streets ectastic and beaming with excitement for seeing foreigners. Some kids are extremely intelligent, at a tender age as young as 10 speak as many as 4 languages and they will carry conversations with you all the way.
At the lakes there is barely anything other than villages, magnificent views around the lakes and a large hydro electric plant. The shores of the lakes are heavily terraced and offer breathtaking views of the lakes. A dip into the lake is warranted, with the cool see through water and sounds of cows mooing around the hills, it is serene.
The ride back from the lake is really smooth as it is generally downhill. Riding on the deserted tarmac with a backdrop of the volcanoes and huge trees on each side feels like a ride in a hobbit movie. On lookers are eager to encourage you to go faster or ask you to stop for banana beer.
Musanze is the tourism capital of Rwanda offering gorillas, deep and scary caves and some beautiful hikes. Visiting the neglected twin lakes in the North gives you a taste of off the beaten path Rwanda with authentic experiences and some memorable views.
Meet a local
Yannick is a junior in the Rwanda’s cycling team and offers to ride with you for free as it is part of his practice. When not in school, he is riding around the land of ten thousand hills ( or is it a thousand?)