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Travels & Trips

Rusizi & Nyungwe escapades

What’s the plan for the weekend?

We have to extend our temporary bike import permits. They were only valid for two weeks. This can be done at any customs office of Rwanda Revenue Authority. Now, we’re around 100km in any direction from the next office.

We went North to Gisenyi last weekend (get the story here) and decide to go South to the Rusizi border for the paperwork.

We get up early and head out before 6am. The goal is to get to Nyungwe Forest for lunch, as we missed to see this famous forest last weekend.

It gets more beautiful by the minute!

Not everyone’s awake yet fully. At one of the many sunrise photo stops, a side stand is MIA and Mugabe goes back to sleep. His left eye comes off in the process.

I can’t figure out how to fit it back to the holder and we end up taping the lamp to the bike – at least the cable won’t get damaged by dangling along the hundreds of km we have ahead.

See how the road snails along the lake? Incredible riding!

There’s a long steep downhill and I’m riding behind one of those ninja cyclists who’s flying downhill at high speeds… I’m trying to keep up with him in the corners and my odo hits 72 as I spot the speed camera and let him go šŸš² šŸ’Ø šŸ˜‚

After 90km of beautiful twisty riding we enter the RN6 highway that connects Butare to Rusizi/DRC

And then it gets really chilly and I instinctively know what comes next

Time for roadside breakfast overlooking tea plantations

Before long we descend back down to the Lake and enter Rusizi town. This is the Southern end of Lake Kivu and a river is separating Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo here.

Within two minutes we arrive at the border point Pont I (There’s also a Pont II)

We park and look for the customs office. Upon presenting our objective, we’re informed that yes, it can be done here, but we will need to pay the fee in cash and only in USD. What on earth? How unexpected. All we have is MoMo.

We find a momo agent, a forex and get a sensible rate

From here the procedure has several steps, including showing our logbooks, a physical bike inspection, taking of photos, approvals, printing of a new permit and another approval step.

In short: a lot of waiting

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Ladies and Gentlemen: The Congolese border has running water in the toilets – unlike Busia!!

Similar price: 200 RWF (20 bob) and I’m told “Il faut payer” – slightly more polite than “Lipa Kwanza” but same message.

We find out that the paperwork can only be extended by one month at a time. If you plan to use your foreign vehicle in Rwanda, you’ll be making regular trips to customs offices.

After around 90 minutes: Success! Our bike permits are extended and we pass by Emeraude Kivu Resort for coffee and ridiculous views across the lake, river and Bukavu town on the DRC side.

Next stop: Nyungwe Forest!

It’s about 60km to Uwinka Visitors’ Center and beautiful relaxing riding.

We enter a huge dense forest, the highway cuts right through it!

To enter the Canopy Walk we will have to wait for two hours, because there’s no guide available. 3pm? That should be our departure time if we want to get home with sunlight.

We decide that a selfie will have to do

They have a nice cafeteria built into the trees so we order drinks, then chill and enjoy the green views

Tish and Chiri join us for lunch.

It’s been two weeks since we rode together from Gatuna! Lots to catch up on.

No, I wasn’t the only one talking!

It takes the restaurant 90 minutes to prepare 4 burgers, so we head out quickly after lunch

And what an epic collection of bikes awaits us!

We have 115km to get back to Kibuye. There’s enough food in the fridge and room for guests – we invite the guys to join us at the lake house.

The forest is foresting. On departure we get rained on for 10 minutes and maneuver a loooong wet snakey downhill safely. At the turn back towards the lake we leave the clouds behind and the ride back is divine. The golden sun rays hit the mountains from the right angle!

Before long we get to the hair pin turn we saw in the morning. Breathtaking! Isn’t this the perfect place for a drone shot?

Tish rides ahead. Doesn’t the iPhone take good snaps?

Staying alert is becoming difficult. 290km of cornering is not a joke in terms of concentration!

We reach home just before sunset and goof around taking pictures

I’ve been drooling over the golden Transalp XL 700V over the last two weeks šŸ¤¤. I’m shy riding her but so excited that I can actually lift the bike while having one foot flat on the ground. One day šŸ˜‡

A short sunset cruise around Kibuye town to top off the day.

The friendly soul who contributed an amazing reggae playlist to this beautiful evening: Barikiwe!

I know you’re all curious what happened. Well, there were beers involved, and stories and incredible kienyeji chicken. The muscly huge type that even has meat on the neck.

I can tell you about the morning, though. Because I wake up at 5:45 with the first sunrays, totally famished. I grab some chicken and enjoy the sunrise on the veranda. Then I go back to bed for two hours to catch up on sleep.

When I wake up the second time, the guys have whipped up an amazing breakfast. Next we sort out a few issues on our bikes including Mugabe’s left eye.

There is a general hangover in the air and we shelve the idea of riding each other’s bikes around town.

Before long, it’s goodbye, as the guys have at least 3 hours to arrive back to Kigali.

What a chill and beautiful weekend ride! 291km for us, and a total of 466km for the gents. And two speed tickets šŸ™ˆ

PS: There’s nothing like receiving July weather memes from Nairobi sitting under blue sky in the sunshine.

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