09 Aug

Yesterday, I shared my experiences hiking Mwiko Hill. Standing between Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo, the hill attracts hikers in pursuit of the panoramic views of both lakes. While strolling around the loop of Mwiko’s summit, I saw several islands. The most imposing ones are Batutsi, Bushogo, Cyuza, Peace Haven and Icyabarihira. My next move was to visit one of them. After deep consultations with my inner self, I chose Cyuza Island.

The privately owned Cyuza Island is in Lake Burera. To get there, I rode to the Musanze - Cyanika road and took the right turn towards Cyanika. Somewhere between Gahunga and Kidaho, I turned right again and proceeded to the lake through Rugarama Market. If you are planning to visit the island, there is a signpost marked La Paillotte Cyuza Island. You won’t miss it.

Sailing to and from Cyuza Island costs Rwf 15,000 (approximately USD 13). That amount covers a round trip, regardless of the number of passengers aboard. In other words, a solo traveler would cough up the same amount as a group of ten.

Although the island is a steep hill, its trail is easy to navigate. That’s because it is designed to make visitors complete a 360° circuit on the relatively flatter lakeside buffer zone. I had done a lot of hiking earlier, but what was left in the tank was enough to cover Cyuza’s moderate trail. Besides, the beauty of the island was invigorating. One step at a time, I marveled at the lush vegetation and the turquoise water.

Cyuza is a high-altitude continental island. The surface of Lake Burera itself is at an altitude of 1,860 meters (more than 6,000 feet) above sea level. The surrounding hills - in the districts of Burera, Musanze, Gakenke, Rulindo and Gicumbi — form a corridor of mountainous settlements.

Lake Burera is very close to Uganda. There are more lakes on the other side of the border, including Cyahafi, Kayumbu, Bunyonyi and Mutanda. The geological composition of the islands found in these lakes and the ecosystems they sustain are similar.

Rwanda’s northern highlands are breathtaking. The hilliest part of the land of 1,000 hills boasts enormous potential in the development of tourism, and its proximity to the Virunga Massif is an added advantage.

Back on the island, the trail I followed is food for the soul of every nature enthusiast. In the words of Mary Davis, "A walk in nature walks the soul back home." This nature walk, on a pristine island, is highly recommended.

Under the management of La Paillotte, Cyuza Island guarantees the ultimate deluxe camping experience. Also known as glamorous camping, or simply glamping, this setup creates a harmonious blend of nature and opulence. The model gives campers a wilderness experience without compromising luxury.

When I shared photos of the island on social media, a friend of mine accused me of flaunting places the middle class can't afford. That brings us back to the question posed above: How much does it cost to spend a night on Cyuza Island? Rwf 15,000 (about USD 13) only.

After a peaceful night on this heavenly island, I left Burera District. My next sub-destination was Musanze District. The next three posts in this section will highlight my experiences in Musanze.