Even though it is a landlocked country, Rwanda has watersports to offer at the country’s biggest lake, Lake Kivu.
The trip to Lake Kivu from Kigali, where I went on a boat expedition, took approximately three hours, excluding stops along the way.
From Lake Kivu you can literally see the DRC. Some of the buildings in the neighbouring country are so close they’re practically neighbours.
The public boat ride around designated islands takes about an hour, and costs about Rwf2,000 ($2.5) depending on how far you go into the lake.
The boat has been in operation since 2012; it serves the villagers of Nkombo, and sails to the farthest parts of the lake, dropping off passengers on the way. The boat can hold about 100 people in one trip.
The farthest point from the starting point at Rusizi is Kamembe, approximately six hours away. By road it takes about eight hours.
Everyone in the boat is required to wear a life-jacket, and stay seated until it sets off.
Eager to feel the cool breeze, I could hardly wait to get out to the stern where curious tourists were gathering.
The rippling water trailing behind the boat splashed small drops onto the boat.
Mid-way through the trip, a light rain sent the travellers back into the boat, giving credence to the old Swahili saying loosely translated as, “Whoever goes to the stern returns to the seat.”
Passing by islands, we saw inhabitants and tourists, while some had no sign of human life on them. We went to an island called Kimbiri, which is famous for its coffee and other agricultural produce.
On the second day, the watersports on offer were kayaking, rafting, jet skiing, and paddle boarding by Kivu Lake Serena Hotel, which is a privately owned beach.
The lifeguard gave brief instructions about what to expect and do. I went paddle boarding with the help of a friend who is a beginner too but was a quick learner. We enjoyed the ebb and flow of the waves.
As a way to relax from the hustle and bustle of the everyday chaos of city life, the lakes around the country are a surefire way.
To crown the experience, I quote poet William Wordsworth who wrote, “A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.”