29 Jul

Before departure, I passed by Mantis EPIC Hotel & Suites for lunch. After placing my order, I walked down the stairs to the swimming pool area. A few guests were swimming, but I figured out how to take a photo without violating their privacy.

When I returned to the restaurant, I grabbed my packed chicken wrap and left for Gicumbi. Speaking of Gicumbi, my first stop in the Northern Province is now closer to Nyagatare than ever, thanks to the completion of the Nyagatare - Rukomo highway.

From Rukomo, travelers heading to other parts of the Northern Province and beyond proceed to Base while Kigali-bound ones use the Gatuna - Kigali highway (NR 3). Rukomo and Base are found in Gicumbi and Rulindo districts respectively.

In Nyagatare, the terrain is relatively flatter. At some point, while navigating the Gicumbi segment of the ride, I was cruising at an altitude of over 6,000 feet above sea level. Gicumbi hills record lower temperatures than the eastern prairies.

I am not an engineer, but I guess it costs much more to build roads on the most mountainous parts of the country. I remember seeing people moving mountains, literary, when the road was under construction — excavating, digging, crushing rocks and laying layers upon layers of concrete material.

Scenic Nyagatare - Gicumbi road

Groundbreaking comes after conducting technical studies, planning, budgeting and procuring a contractor. Long story short, a lot of head-scratching takes place before the yellow machines are sent to the field. Moreover, the roads we traverse require regular maintenance and landslide management.

As I shifted gears on the smooth tarmac, I couldn’t stop marveling at those green hills I am obsessed with. The breathtaking landscape is food to the soul of every sightseeing enthusiast. It is the scenery that makes the journey as intriguing, or even more intriguing, than the destination.

It took me about an hour to reach Rukomo. This village is strategically located. Apart from easing the east - north flow, the junction channels traffic between Kigali and Uganda via Gatuna.

Another newly constructed road connects Rukomo and Kiramuruzi through the Muhazi Belt. The new artery provides a convenient solution for tour operators who transfer their clients from the Akagera National Park to the Volcanoes National Park regularly. In another development, the construction of a shortcut from the volcanoes to the Giswati-Mukura National Park & Biosphere Reserve, through the manicured hills of Bigogwe, is picking up steam.

The Rukomo - Base road spans the distance of 50 kilometers. In a bid to make the twin lakes easily accessible, two other projects have been launched. One will open up Lake Ruhondo through the Kigali - Musanze highway and the second one will link the Rukomo - Base road and the Musanze - Cyanika one via Lake Burera.

Around the country, an extensive network of new roads is taking shape. Vitz owners will be able to drive to every part of the country in a near future. As my 30 Districts Expedition gains momentum, I will keep you posted. Stay tuned.

Navigating Gicumbi hills