In northern Rwanda, the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo sit in the shadows of extinct volcanoes. Rarely visited by tourists, these lakes and their lush green surroundings are so exquisite that photographs rarely do them justice.
Although Rwanda is undoubtedly the land of weekend trips – with countless activities and picturesque destinations available year-round – Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo are true hidden gems. For a perfect lakeside experience, spend a few days camping on an island in the middle of Lake Burera.
With calm blue waters and front row seats to the gorgeous Mount Muhabura, Ile de Cyuza (also known as Cyuza’s Island) is a special place to stay. Although Rwanda has dozens of spectacular lakes, Burera offers crisp mountain air, thick green forests, and spectacular sunrises making it one of the best spots. Clear skies reveal views of not just one but four stunning volcanoes, available to hike before or after your idyllic island getaway.
Although it’s totally worth the journey, Cyuza’s Island can be somewhat tricky to locate. The island is owned by the La Paillotte hotel in Musanze, and guests are encouraged to make reservations through the hotel’s website. Trips to the island start from Musanze – from where it’s only a thirty-minute drive to the shoreline. Buses from Kigali to Musanze leave every thirty minutes from the Virunga Express bus line and a ticket costs less than US$2.
After arriving in Musanze, travellers are usually asked to visit the nearby La Paillotte restaurant – where they can meet the island owners and have dinner – before taking the next bus to Rugarama, a small town near the shore of Lake Burera. The manager of the island meets the guests there, and after a bumpy motorcycle ride or an hour long walk, Lake Burera appears. A small boat takes guests to the island and the short ride provides the first glimpse of the majestic lake.
Cyuza’s Island spans 14 hectares, with sections comprising vegetable cultivation and fruit trees. Kayaks, boat trips, and other activities are available upon request, but don’t hesitate to spend your days lazing around on the island shores, reading a good book, or going for a swim in the temperate water. Travellers have the option of renting tents and sheets from the island, but are not required to do so. Although the tents and mattresses provided are comfortable, this won’t be a luxurious experience as there are no showers and just a single eco-toilet on the island.
That said, there are few other places in Rwanda to experience such serenity, beauty, and calm. Cyuza’s Island is definitely a spot not to be missed!