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Ride Kigali To Congo, 8 Days, Slow Cycling Tour in Rwanda

5.00/5

From: CHF 3,305

 

 

Kigali To Congo is an extraordinary 7-night guided and supported 220 kilometre journey on dirt roads through some of Africa’s most awe-inspiring scenery, from Rwanda’s capital to one of the continent’s great lakes on its northern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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All about the Ride Kigali To Congo, 8 Days, Slow Cycling Tour in Rwanda.

Kigali To Congo, Slow Cycling

 

Overview

  • 8 Days

  • Flexible, Small Group Cycle Trip

  • Support Van and Equipment

  • E-Bikes Available

  • English Speaking Guides

  • Mostly Off Road

  • A Bucket List Experience

Why Do We Recommend It?

The “Slow Cycling” approach is based on the rewards of the ride, not how fast you do it.

An experienced and trusted cycle tour operator.

See some of Africa’s most iconic scenery.

A chance to visit the gorillas in the wild.

Is It Right for Me?

Almost half of the people who ride this tour with us choose the e-bike option, which makes the hills far more manageable. The tour is great for those who are happy to be distracted and willing to stop and make discoveries along the way.

You don’t need to be an experienced biker or especially fit.

The tour is great for those who want to experience Rwanda or Africa from ground level.

A good option for solo travellers. Both young and not-so-young will find this journey rewarding.

What People Say About The Trip

Slow and steady doesn’t win the race. But it definitely has more fun along the way and comes home with better stories.

Can I Go Anytime?

The tour is scheduled for specific dates and you can find those while checking availability in the fields above. However, not all dates are guaranteed to run and some may already have filled. So, just enter the dates you’re interested in and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible with confirmation of availability. We always do our best to get the trip that suits you best.

 

Itsy Bitsy Details

  • Where: Rwanda
  • Duration: 8 Days
  • Tour Starts: Kigali, Rwanda
  • Tour Ends: Kigali, Rwanda
  • Fly To: Kigali International Airport, KGL
  • Fly From: Kigali International Airport, KGL
  • Group Size: 12 max
  • Operated By: The Slow Cyclist
  • The Cycling: Mostly wide red dirt and volcanic roads.

More Great Biking Tours

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • Airport transfers (on Day 1 & 8) & support vehicle
  • Slow Cyclist host & English-speaking local guides
  • All accommodation, meals, snacks & drinks
  • Daily activities
  • Bicycle & helmet hire
  • 24 hour emergency helicopter evacuation
  • 100% financial security

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

  • Gorillas £1,350
  • Golden Monkeys £125
  • Single Supplement £250
  • Electric Bicycle Supplement £150
What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
  • Flights
  • Trekking permits (see Optional Extras)
  • Visas (required for UK citizens)
  • Travel insurance
  1. DAY 1 SATURDAY, ARRIVAL IN KIGALI

    We recommend you arrive in Kigali this evening. A member of our team will meet you at the airport and accompany you to your hotel in Kiyovu (15-30 minutes), the leafy old Belgian quarter. We will meet you for dinner in the city, and you will stay in a hotel close to the presidential residence and the famous Hotel de Mille Collines.

  2. DAY 2 SUNDAY, DAY IN KIGALI

    A day in the capital to acclimatise and all activities are optional. After breakfast, we will be guided through the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a harrowing but must-do experience for any visitor to Rwanda. We’ll then visit the uplifting Kinamba Project, before having lunch in the city. There’s time for some R&R in the afternoon or a look around Kimironko Market. In the evening, we’ll have drinks and a briefing on the adventure ahead and dinner with views over the lights of the capital.

  3. DAY 3 MONDAY, KIGALI TO KINIHIRA

    Cycling 50 kms We set off today from the top of Kigali’s highest peak, Mount Jali. It’s often shrouded in mist at the peak and makes for an atmospheric start to our journey, with views over the valleys coming into focus around every twist in the road. We’ll have a picnic lunch en route before a long descent. It’s one final climb up to Sorwathe, one of Rwanda’s famous tea estates and our home for the night.

  4. DAY 4 TUESDAY, KINIHIRA TO LAKE RUHONDO

    Cycling 50 or 60 kms After breakfast, we’ll have a chance to see behind the scenes at the tea plantation. Then it’s back in the saddle for a fantastic descent through the tea fields before a steady ascent to the shores of the Twin Lakes, Ruhondo and Burera. The day is packed with breathtaking views. We’ll stay in a convent overlooking Lake Ruhondo and the volcanoes and if it’s a clear evening we’ll be able to see the smoking, active Nyiragongo in Congo.

  5. DAY 5 WEDNESDAY, LAKE RUHONDO TO RUHENGERI

    Walking 8kms – Cycling 32 kms After a short boat journey to the northern shore of Lake Ruhondo, we’ll walk up to its twin, Burera, before climbing up to Virunga Lodge (see below) for lunch. Along the way, we’ll pass through villages and visit a growing community project. In the afternoon, the landscape changes on a fantastic ride as we head towards Kinigi, pausing at the home of Team Rwanda – the national cycling team – and finally arriving in the frontier town of Ruhengeri.

  6. DAY 6 THURSDAY, GORILLA TREKKING

    Today is your chance to trek into the jungle to spend time with some of the last remaining mountain gorillas on the planet. Alternatively, you can visit golden monkeys, go bird-spotting on the nearby Mukungwa River, or walk through Ruhengeri to see some of our guides’ favourite things (see Day 6 Extras below).

    DAY 6 EXTRAS

    For many visitors to Rwanda, a close encounter with a family of mountain gorillas is the wildlife experience of their lives. With that in mind, we have allowed for a day out of the saddle to trek into the Volcanoes National Park and track some of nature’s most majestic creatures. The cost, including 4WD transport, guides and porters, is £1,350 per person. The gorillas you will track in Volcanoes National Park belong to one of ten habituated family groups. Permits to visit the gorillas are in short supply, with a maximum of eight per day issued for each group. For many years, the gorilla groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually got them used to the presence of humans and allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them in the wild. These are not tame animals by any means. They are completely wild, and even now only tolerate human presence for an hour a day at most. You will be accompanied by guides as you track the gorillas through dense vegetation, along steep trails and at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres. It can be tough going but you are guaranteed to see the gorillas, whether it takes 30 mins or 3 hours to reach them. Once the group has been located you will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. After this, you will return to the park headquarters. As a cheaper alternative to the gorillas, a trek to see golden monkeys is also fantastic. Each trek varies in length, but once you’ve found them you are allowed to spend an hour in their company. The all-inclusive cost is £125 per person. Anyone not wishing to undertake either trek can go birdwatching with one of our guides, explore Ruhengeri or relax after three long days in the saddle.

  7. DAY 7 FRIDAY, RUHENGERI TO RUBAVU

    Cycling 80 kms It’s our last day on bikes and it’s a big one. Our final destination is Lake Kivu, one of the deepest lakes in the world and a so-called Great Lake of Africa. To get there we will cycle along the base of the chain of volcanoes, through bamboo forests, remote villages and banana plantations before stopping for lunch at the beautifully situated home of the late humanitarian and author Rosamond Carr. From there it’s a thrilling descent and one last climb to reach Kivu, where we will spend the night after a celebration dinner overlooking the lake.

  8. DAY 8 SATURDAY, DEPARTURE

    After a morning relaxing by Lake Kivu you will be transferred to Kigali for your onward journey. For those catching an evening flight, we will drive you to Kigali International Airport.

    TRIP EXTENSION

    You may wish to journey on to Nyungwe Forest – home to several Albertine Rift endemic species – or travel east to the savannah of Akagera National Park, or indeed elsewhere in Rwanda. If you would like us to help, please let us know.

Tour Details

Kigali To Congo, Slow Cycling

ABOUT

Join us on a 7-night, supported and guided journey, cycling – with a little walking – all the way from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, to Lake Kivu in the north-west of the country. We will wind through tea, banana plantations and volcanic lakes as we climb towards the Virunga Mountains – a chain of volcanoes that are home to some of the world’s only remaining mountain gorillas. From there it’s west along the chain to Kivu, one of Africa’s Great Lakes. Along the way, we’ll cycle through villages perched on hillsides, visit some inspiring community projects and get to know parts of Rwanda that very few visitors ever visit. Affectionately named the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills,’ Rwanda doesn’t do ‘flat’ meaning there is plenty of up- and downhill, affording incredible views around every corner.

DIFFICULTY & ETHOS

Rwanda offers the most challenging cycling of any of our destinations, although we recently introduced the country’s first e-bikes, meaning it’s now very doable for those who prefer to potter along. Of the many guests we have hosted since 2015, the vast majority have been curious travellers with a bit of juice in their legs, approaching their time with us as a slow journey rather than a test of fitness. That’s not to say we don’t ride hard sometimes, just that we are often distracted by the culture, food, history and people that make this place so special.

SEASON

May marks the end of the long rains and so the country is often at its most verdant and beautiful in June. The daytime temperature is usually between 20 – 28 degrees. Rain is uncommon although as you head north, increasingly possible.

HISTORY OF RWANDA

Rwanda is a land of sprawling lakes, cultivated green hills and smoking volcanoes made famous by Gorillas in the Mist. Of course, it’s gorillas that most visitors come here to see – and they do provide a magical experience – but there is so much more to this tiny, lush, land-locked gem. The country remained ‘undiscovered’ until late in the 19th century, made up of a complex society of family clans. During German and then Belgian colonisation cash crops, such as coffee and sugar, were introduced and schools and roads built. However, alongside came relentless social and political upheaval that continued into the post-colonial era and ultimately culminated in the 1994 genocide. Over the past two decades, Africa’s most densely populated country has embarked on a remarkable journey, winning global acclaim for tackling social divisions and dragging millions over the poverty line. The population is young and a stable government has helped develop roads, create accessible broadband, and encourage a budding private sector economy that is seeing increasing foreign investment. Crime and corruption levels are some of the lowest on the continent and, in recent years, Rwanda has been named the safest country in Africa, with Kigali the cleanest and most livable city.

ITINERARY

DAY 1, SATURDAY

ARRIVAL

We recommend you arrive in Kigali this evening. A member of our team will meet you at the airport and accompany you to your hotel in Kiyovu (15-30 minutes), the leafy old Belgian quarter. We will meet you for dinner in the city, and you will stay in a hotel close to the presidential residence and the famous Hotel de Mille Collines.

DAY 2, SUNDAY

DAY IN KIGALI

A day in the capital to acclimatise and all activities are optional. After breakfast, we will be guided through the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a harrowing but must-do experience for any visitor to Rwanda. We’ll then visit the uplifting Kinamba Project, before having lunch in the city. There’s time for some R&R in the afternoon or a look around Kimironko Market. In the evening, we’ll have drinks and a briefing on the adventure ahead and dinner with views over the lights of the capital.

DAY 3, MONDAY

KIGALI TO KINIHIRA

Cycling 50 kms We set off today from the top of Kigali’s highest peak, Mount Jali. It’s often shrouded in mist at the peak and makes for an atmospheric start to our journey, with views over the valleys coming into focus around every twist in the road. We’ll have a picnic lunch en route before a long descent. It’s one final climb up to Sorwathe, one of Rwanda’s famous tea estates and our home for the night.

DAY 4, TUESDAY

KINIHIRA TO LAKE RUHONDO

Cycling 50 or 60 kms After breakfast, we’ll have a chance to see behind the scenes at the tea plantation. Then it’s back in the saddle for a fantastic descent through the tea fields before a steady ascent to the shores of the Twin Lakes, Ruhondo and Burera. The day is packed with breathtaking views. We’ll stay in a convent overlooking Lake Ruhondo and the volcanoes and if it’s a clear evening we’ll be able to see the smoking, active Nyiragongo in Congo.

DAY 5, WEDNESDAY

LAKE RUHONDO TO RUHENGERI

Walking 8kms – Cycling 32 kms After a short boat journey to the northern shore of Lake Ruhondo, we’ll walk up to its twin, Burera, before climbing up to Virunga Lodge (see below) for lunch. Along the way, we’ll pass through villages and visit a growing community project. In the afternoon, the landscape changes on a fantastic ride as we head towards Kinigi, pausing at the home of Team Rwanda – the national cycling team – and finally arriving in the frontier town of Ruhengeri.

DAY 6, THURSDAY

GORILLA TREKKING

Today is your chance to trek into the jungle to spend time with some of the last remaining mountain gorillas on the planet. Alternatively, you can visit golden monkeys, go bird-spotting on the nearby Mukungwa River, or walk through Ruhengeri to see some of our guides’ favourite things (see Day 6 Extras below).

DAY 7, FRIDAY

RUHENGERI TO RUBAVU

Cycling 80 kms It’s our last day on bikes and it’s a big one. Our final destination is Lake Kivu, one of the deepest lakes in the world and a so-called Great Lake of Africa. To get there we will cycle along the base of the chain of volcanoes, through bamboo forests, remote villages and banana plantations before stopping for lunch at the beautifully situated home of the late humanitarian and author Rosamond Carr. From there it’s a thrilling descent and one last climb to reach Kivu, where we will spend the night after a celebration dinner overlooking the lake.

DAY 8, SATURDAY

DEPARTURE

After a morning relaxing by Lake Kivu you will be transferred to Kigali for your onward journey. For those catching an evening flight, we will drive you to Kigali International Airport.

TRIP EXTENSION

You may wish to journey on to Nyungwe Forest – home to several Albertine Rift endemic species – or travel east to the savannah of Akagera National Park, or indeed elsewhere in Rwanda. If you would like us to help, please let us know.

DAY 6 EXTRAS

For many visitors to Rwanda, a close encounter with a family of mountain gorillas is the wildlife experience of their lives. With that in mind, we have allowed for a day out of the saddle to trek into the Volcanoes National Park and track some of nature’s most majestic creatures. The cost, including 4WD transport, guides and porters, is £1,350 per person. The gorillas you will track in Volcanoes National Park belong to one of ten habituated family groups. Permits to visit the gorillas are in short supply, with a maximum of eight per day issued for each group. For many years, the gorilla groups have undergone an extremely delicate process that has gradually got them used to the presence of humans and allowed a few privileged visitors to interact with them in the wild. These are not tame animals by any means. They are completely wild, and even now only tolerate human presence for an hour a day at most. You will be accompanied by guides as you track the gorillas through dense vegetation, along steep trails and at an altitude of more than 2,000 metres. It can be tough going but you are guaranteed to see the gorillas, whether it takes 30 mins or 3 hours to reach them. Once the group has been located you will be allowed a maximum of one hour with them. After this, you will return to the park headquarters. As a cheaper alternative to the gorillas, a trek to see golden monkeys is also fantastic. Each trek varies in length, but once you’ve found them you are allowed to spend an hour in their company. The all-inclusive cost is £125 per person. Anyone not wishing to undertake either trek can go birdwatching with one of our guides, explore Ruhengeri or relax after three long days in the saddle.

THE CYCLING & WALKING

The cycling in Rwanda consists of mostly wide red dirt and volcanic roads, with some tarmac sections. For most of our journey cars are very few and far between, though you will get used to the familiar ‘ring’ of a bicycle taxi. This is the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ so an e-bike is the preferred option for around half of our guests. Walking routes take us up some steep goat tracks and along mountain ridges for beautiful views. Although some days are long, you’ll always have time to take in the sights.

BIKES & E-BIKES

You will be cycling on and off-road throughout your time with us, so we provide hardtail (front suspension) mountain bikes. We also have the only electric mountain bikes in Rwanda: if the prospect of pedalling up the hills without puffing is appealing, then we recommend you opt for one of these. Pedalling is assisted so you’re able to choose how much energy to expend and we’ve never had a guest regret taking this option.

A FLEXIBLE APPROACH

There are very few people who know the hills, villages and people in Rwanda better than our local guides. We believe that travel is at its best when flexible, so we do, where we can, adapt the routes when necessary. With that in mind, we ask that you treat this itinerary as a guide to how you will spend your time with us. You are bound to have experiences, see places and meet people that we haven’t listed here. Equally, there may be occasions when we cannot, for good reason, fulfil every detail in this itinerary. Please treat distances as estimates as the routes may vary.

HOST & SUPPORT

We know that guides can make or break a trip, which is why we are so pleased to have developed a fantastic team of local guides. Our cycling guides are Olivier and Jado, who were born in Ruhengeri and Kigali and have excellent knowledge of their hometowns and the wider country. Olivier is a keen bird-watcher and Jado has a deep understanding of cultural practice and customs. Emmy, originally from the southern district, is our driver guide whose passion is the natural history of Rwanda. In addition, the group will be accompanied by a member of The Slow Cyclist team from the UK who will act as host during your time with us. Your bags will be driven ahead each day and a support vehicle will be on hand in case you need a lift.

ACCOMMODATION

Lodging is based on twin sharing although a single supplement is available. Rooms are en-suite when possible and WiFi or a good 3G connection is usually available. The accommodation has been chosen for its charm, comfort and location; whether staying in one of the best hotels in Kigali or in a local home, rest assured that you will always be comfortable and well looked after.

FOOD & DRINK

The local food is simple and fresh and the very definition of organic. Rwanda is abundant in its vegetable growing, meaning vegetarians and vegans are easily catered for. Beer is brewed locally, though, with the exception of ‘banana wine’, we bring wine from South Africa. Sometimes we’ll eat out in the open and, at other times, in local restaurants.

CLIMATE

Although Rwanda is located only two degrees south of the equator, its high elevation makes the climate temperate. The average daily temperature near Lake Kivu, at an altitude of 1,450 metres, is 23 °C and this is relatively typical of temperatures across the country all year round. During the two rainy seasons (March to May and September to November), heavy downpours occur almost daily, alternating with sunny weather. During these months, sunshine is common and the landscape is at its most beautiful. Apart from April, when the country comes together to remember the 1994 atrocities in a month of mourning, there really is no bad time to visit Rwanda. July and August are hotter than other months.

“Impeccably organised. The trip of a lifetime.”

MARK GRINONNEAU, SEPTEMBER 2016

FLIGHTS

Flights are not included in the cost of the trip. You are responsible for booking your own travel to and from Rwanda. Many airlines service Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, from the UK and around the world. RwandAir is the only airline operating direct flights from the UK to Rwanda, although these run just a few times a week. Our guests tend to favour Brussels Airlines or KLM, although it is of course entirely up to you who you decide to fly with.

TRANSFERS

We provide free transfers to and from Kigali International Airport on Days 1 and 8. If you are arriving on an earlier date or leaving later, it is your responsibility to get yourself to and from the airport. Most hotels provide a transfer service, although it is rarely complimentary. If you would like us to help with your transfer to or from Kigali International Airport outside of the trip dates we will be happy to do so, but will not be able to provide a free service. Please just ask at any point in the lead up to your time with us.

BORIS POLO, YOUR HOST

Born and raised in East Africa, Boris now lives with his family outside Mombasa on Kenya’s glorious east coast. He’ll be looking after you throughout your time with The Slow Cyclist in Rwanda. He has been involved in adventure tourism for many years. It was in Mombasa that he set up the region’s first watersports business, before starting to lead expeditions and adventures to the most remote parts of Kenya. Africa is Boris’ passion. He loves its vast array of landscapes, and of course its people. And he loves sharing his knowledge with our guests.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance.
  • Airport transfers (on Day 1 & 8) & support vehicle
  • Slow Cyclist host & English-speaking local guides
  • All accommodation, meals, snacks & drinks
  • Daily activities
  • Bicycle & helmet hire
  • 24 hour emergency helicopter evacuation
  • 100% financial security

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

  • Gorillas £1,350
  • Golden Monkeys £125
  • Single Supplement £250
  • Electric Bicycle Supplement £150
  • Flights
  • Trekking permits (see Optional Extras)
  • Visas (required for UK citizens)
  • Travel insurance

Activity Level: Moderate

Our Rwandan rides do not require advanced technical mountain biking ability although experience riding on rough surfaces up and downhill is helpful. Far more important is fitness. You will definitely need to train and by the time you join us in Rwanda you should be comfortable spending long hours in the saddle, climbing in excess of 1,000 metres in one day on a variety of surfaces. Rwanda is nicknamed the Land of a Thousand Hills and is one of Africa’s most mountainous countries. You may find the cycling tough but the views will offer just reward and remember, you can jump in the support vehicle at any time if you feel the need.

Overall Rating
5/5
DAVID JONES - 2016
Reviewed On 01/07/2017
5/5

“I’ve done a decent amount of guided riding and this is the best I have been on.”

MARK GRINONNEAU - 2016
Reviewed On 11/06/2016
5/5

“Impeccably organised. The trip of a lifetime.”

WILL HIDE - TIMES JOURNALIST 2015
Reviewed On 08/06/2015
5/5

“I think the word ‘unique’ is bandied about way too often in travel, but I really think that’s appropriate in this case. My head is overflowing with great memories.”

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