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The twin lakes of Burera and Ruhundo

The best places to visit in Musanze after Kwita Izina

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Kwita Izina, the annual baby gorilla naming ceremony, will take place on September 2 in Kinigi, Musanze district. Travel News Rwanda suggests for you other leisure options in this district, which boasts some of the most spectacular natural wonders in Rwanda.
Musanze Cave
Musanze Cave is one of the oldest caves in the country, dating back over 65 million years ago. It’s just a five-minute drive from Musanze town and has one of its many entrances near the Innes University grounds – just a one-minute downhill bush walk. I was among a group of journalists who took a tour of the cave, courtesy of the Rwanda Development Board, and our guide was Felix, a tour guide working with the Volcanoes National Park. He’s such an informative guy and took good care of us throughout the tour. Before we went into the cave, he gave us commentary on its history, the way it was formed and its features.

There are 52 surveyed caves in the Northern Province, according to Felix, and Musanze Cave is the most visited. It is about two kilometres long and has 31 entrances ­– most of them roof collapses. As we entered, we found out that it’s not just the natural features of this cave that are stunning; the man-made walkways, completed at the beginning of 2013, are also an engineering feat worthy of appreciation.

These walkways were constructed using rocks in a fascinatingly artful way! It got darker as we progressed, but being guided around by flashlights let us feel like real wilderness explorers. We would have re-emerged into the sunlight after about an hour, Felix told us 10 minutes into the journey, but he advised us to make a u-turn back out because most of us never had caving equipment (protective overcoats, boots, helmets…)

Felix also reasoned that it’s easy to stumble towards the end when you are tired and no longer picking your feet up like you were at the beginning of the tour.
Twin lakes 
The 25-kilometre bus ride from Musanze town to Sunzu Hill was fascinating. The views from the snaking, hilly road were so captivating that we kept on asking our driver to stop every few minutes so that we take pictures.

Whenever we stopped children would instantly materialise, all of them unspeakably tattered: little shirts, pants ­– all frazzled and torn up. We drove straight to the Virunga Lodge ­in Mwiko – the last stop before the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhundo ­– and parked in the lot of the lodging and walked downhill towards the lakes.

They are called twin lakes because of their interconnection: Ruhondo is fed by Burera while the latter is fed by Rusumo Falls in southern Uganda. Separated by a one kilometre-wide strip of land, it’s a breathtaking scenery here, with the lakes surrounded by steep hills and tall waterfalls. We took a walk through the lush Sunzu Hill, which is nestled between the Burera and Ruhondo twin lakes and Mount Muhabura.

At the tip of this hill one gets a clear view of numerous, magnificent hills – gentle peaks unfolding into infinity – as well as the volcanoes that brood ominously in a distance. Sunzu Hill itself radiates silence, beauty and clear, windless air. In the early hours of the day, a transparent fog perfuses the lakes, through which islands where people working in the fields are visible.

For someone who lives in a busy city, this is a place where you will feel you have moved back in time to the good old days when life was simple and so was hapiness. In fact, this is the kind of place that will let you to rediscover the significance of life and return to nature.
Red Rocks Campsite 
Located in Nyakinama village, just seven kilometers out of Musanze town, Red Rocks is a unique African jungle for campers that sits on a magnificent, crater-like valley that is cordoned off by gently cascading hills.

If you are the kind of person who is ill-adjusted to nature, you will find Red Rocks strange, even odd. The campsite’s reservations desk is in a ramshackle hut that makes you feel like you have traipsed off into the wilderness!

The campsite has an art gallery where you can buy a painting that interests you, a volleyball court for those interested in this century-old game, a restaurant where you can grab a bite, as well as a campfire where you can sit and chat with the most sociable assortment of people you’ve ever encountered.

With just between Rwf10,000-15,000, you can have enough to eat and drink and also spend a night in one of the tents – a cosy camping option for two cuddly people. The tents have plenty of room to sit up inside, space for stashing some clothes, and the mattresses are comfortable enough. But Musanze being one of the coldest places in Rwanda, the cold gets worse as the night wears on.

If you are coming from a warmer place, you will feel like someone who has been thrown into the icy highlands of Greenland – with their snow and blizzards. Mornings are even worse as they are characterised by a thick fog that usually completely blankets the surrounding hills.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

Volcanoes National Park 
The Volcanos National Park offers several attractions, but most tourists visit the park for gorrila trekking. Tourists spend an hour with the gorillas at a cost of $750 per person for foreign visitors and tickets must be booked in advance through tour companies or the Rwanda Tourism Board.
Climbing of Mout Karisimbi 
This is a two-day trek with overnight camping at an altitude of 3,800 metres. Climbing of Mount Bisoke It’s a 4-7 hours round trip and costs $75 per person for foreign visitors.
Visiting the tomb of Dian Fossey 
You can also visit the tomb of mountain gorilla conservation legend Dian Fossey, which is located in Karisoke near the Volcanoes National Park headquarters. Fossey was an American zoologist, primatologist, and anthropologist who undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups over a period of 18 years. She was murdered in 1985.
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