Gisenyi beaches on Lake Kivu are amazing. Gisenyi now Rubavu is the most developed of Rwanda’s resorts, with Lake Kivu providing the tourists with sunbathed beaches and plenty of water sports like swimming, diving, boating and parasailing. Birdlife is abundant near the lake with sightings of pelicans, cranes and kingfishers. Boat trips to the Primus Brewery are a favourite among those tired after a long day of sightseeing.
Close to the city is the Volcanoes National Park, which is famous internationally as one of the last remaining sanctuaries of the mountain gorilla. Les Chades de Nbada is a breathtaking 100 m metre high waterfall in the southern part of town; to the north-west tourists will be rewarded with another treat, the 3500 m high Nyiragongo volcano. There are many things to do in Gisenyi with minimal traffic on a good road network which offers a chance for bicycle rides along the scenic valley and the coast. As for mountain biking and hiking, the Rwandan hillocks and remote trails are excellent for an adventure.
Gisenyi is also home to BRALIRWA, the only brewery in Rwanda, which manufactures various local beers Primus and Mutzig, as well as Amstel, Guinness and a range of Coca cola brand soft drinks. Gisenyi is the most northerly port on the lake and an interesting small town. It is split into the upper and lower town, the first being a set of busy rounds around a central market and the latter more spaced out with collections of banks, old colonial houses and hotels. Several hotels and guest houses border the lake shore.
The waterfront with the sandy beaches are a lovely mix of palm lined roads and old architectural styles. With looks similar to a West African backwater town, it is not as humid as it sits at 1500m altitude making it a comfortable climate. There are interesting birds along the lake shore and a short walk away Rubona port has great views and you can explore in a dugout canoe traditional style if you prefer. It is on an attractive peninsula about 6km from the centre of Gisenyi. Near to Bralirwa are the hot springs, which are claimed to have curing effects, but more commonly the boiling water is used by villagers to cook food!
Near Gisenyi is also the home of the Rosalind Carr Imbabazi Orphanage which was started in 1994 to shelter orphans of the genocide, which is a fantastic project and one which has a great success story. Rosalind was a firm friend of Dian Fossey and the original site was in her plantation at Mugongo where she sheltered some of the many genocide orphans. She moved to Gisenyi in the 1990s and returned to new premises in Mugongo in 2005. Visitors are welcome and will no doubt find the children singing and dancing to them! The orphanage is on the Ruhengeri road.
There are several eco-tourism craft and farming projects in the area which you can visit and also the local Bralirwa breweries that uses methane gas from the lake for running their turbines. The Dancing Pots project gives visitors chance to interact with a Batwa settlement, hunter gaterhers by tradition where they have honed traditional skills such as pottery and performing arts and visitors can enjoy learning about their way of live and seeing traditional dance performances and pottery demonstrations. There is also the Ingoboka Coffee Cooperative which is one of the largest producers of coffee in the area, where visitors can tour the factory and do tasting. The main coffee harvest season is March to June.
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