08 Aug

On one side of the hill, I marveled at Lake Ruhondo, its islands and the surrounding landscapes. On the other side, I was awestruck by the beauty of Lake Burera and green hills rolling all the way to Uganda.

I was hoping to see the misty-capped peaks of the volcanoes, but it was foggy up there. However, I had a clear view of the lower slopes of Muhabura. On a good day, hikers can see the towering volcanoes lined up along the border.

If I had a pair of binoculars. I would probably see the gorillas. That’s how close the Volcanoes National Park was from the hill I was standing on. The hill in question is known as Mwiko. As hinted above, it is located between the twin lakes of Burera and Ruhondo. Next to it stands another elevation, namely Rushubi.

Lake Ruhondo

I climbed Mwiko Hill after camping on top of Mount Kabuye. From the mountain, I trekked through a couple of villages before picking up my bike. The bike had been shipped to the area from BGE's Gakenke office, the beginning of Kabuye Trail. 

After getting back on two wheels, I rode to the bridge built on top of what used to be the Ntaruka River, found in Burera District. For the record, the said river doesn’t exist anymore. Before the river was wiped out of the surface of the earth, it used to flow from Lake Burera and empty into Lake Ruhondo. When the Ntaruka Hydropower Plant was constructed in the 1950s, the watercourse was re-channelled through the project’s pipeline mounted on the hill.

The mysteries of Rugezi Swamp, Rusumo Falls, Lake Burera, Lake Ruhondo and Mukungwa River are fascinating. Rusumo Waterfall mentioned here should not be confused with the one found at the border with Tanzania. My next project in Rwanda will uncover the chain connecting these natural wonders.  

Lake Burera

Back to Mwiko Hill, I left my bike on the improvised parking lot managed by local tour guides. Speaking of tour guides, I hired one of them and followed his lead all the way to the summit. Then I strolled around the crest, soaking up the breathtaking vistas.

From my vantage point, I saw Gashaki Peninsula, Mount Mbwe and Peace Haven Island. On Lake Burera’s side, several islands attracted my attention. The allure of these treasures influenced my decision to visit one of them before departure.

Mwiko Hill and Lake Burera are found in Burera District, while Lake Ruhondo is in Musanze District. Unless you enjoy off-roading like me, the recommended route to Mwiko Hill is through the Musanze - Cyanika road. From downtown Musanze, drive towards the border with Uganda and branch off the tarmac at a village known as Gahunga. Then proceed to Ntaruka Hydropower Plant.    

This pipeline is the only physical connection between the two lakes