By Azure Lee
Known as the "Land of a Thousand Hills," Rwanda boasts some of the most stunning scenery on the African continent. The Twin Lakes are one of its many natural wonders; they are a captivating symphony of visual beauty that provide a one-of-a-kind experience for those looking to escape into the embrace of nature.
The Twin Lakes of Rwanda are a little-known but breathtaking sight, located among dormant volcanoes about an hour's drive from the country's well-known gorilla trekking. Little islands in Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo shine white in the early morning light against the soft blue lake, signaling the start of the fishermen's day. Then, lush green hills emerge as the afternoon sun burns the mist away.
Where Is Twin Lakes Rwanda Located?
These stunning lakes are located in the northern region of Rwanda, near the Rwanda-Uganda border and in close proximity to the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, renowned as the home of gorillas. Spanning a total surface area of approximately 2800 hectares, they are nestled at the foothills of Volcano Muhabura on the outskirts of Musanze city.
Named Twin Lakes, Ruhando and Burera are aptly called so due to their nearness to each other. They are separated by only a sharp 100 meters (328 feet) in elevation, with each of them pouring water into the other.
Surrounded by the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, these azure lakes, also known as lava dammed lakes, owe their existence to volcanic activity. The eruption of the dormant Muhabura volcano led to the formation of these lakes as the lava blocked the channel of the Nyabarongo River, Rwanda's largest river. Consequently, the Nyabarongo River altered its course, flowing eastward and eventually merging with the Akanyaru River from the Akagera River.
The Twin Lakes of Rwanda are a little-known but breathtaking sight
How To Get To And Around The Twin Lakes
Arrive at Kigali International Airport, where you can find direct flights from London, Istanbul, Brussels, and Amsterdam. RwandAir, the national airline, is set to introduce direct flights from New York with a refueling stopover in Accra, Ghana, in the near future. Consider spending a night in Kigali upon arrival to orient yourself and explore the vibrant city. If your plans include gorilla trekking, which is about an hour away, or if you intend to visit the lakes and other attractions in Rwanda, it's advisable to arrange transportation through a tour agency or private transfer service.
Rent a four-wheel-drive car from Europcar Rwanda if you wish to independently explore the lakes and the neighboring Musanze region. While activities around the lakes are physically close, travel time between them can be extensive due to winding roads. In addition, the drive around the lakes is a big part of the journey itself; every few minutes, there's a breathtaking view of something spectacular, such the towering Muhabura volcano or the slope banana orchards covering the hills.
Plan to drive from Kigali for one and a half to three and a half hours, depending on your first destination in the area. Alternatively, public buses to Musanze depart every hour from Nyabugogo, Kigali's largest bus terminal, but exploring the lakes without a car may involve using motorcycles and local taxis.
The Twin Lakes are one of Rwanda many natural wonders
The Best Things To Do In Twin Lakes Rwanda
At the Twin Lakes, it’s all about immersing yourself in the views and a slower pace of life. Here are the best things to do in Twin Lakes Rwanda:
1. Canoeing/boat riding
Canoeing or boat cruising is a fantastic tourist activity that gives you the opportunity to visit Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and several islands on the Twin Lakes. You can see the Volcanoes National Park, the lakes' stunning, gorgeous landscape of the neighboring Virunga highlands, and much more from the boat.
Get an opportunity to participate in the fishing that locals do on the lakes. This is carried out locally utilizing customary fishing techniques.
3. Bird watching
Experience bird watching at the twin lakes, where you can observe a variety of water birds such as kingfishers, herons, hammerkops, and cranes.
Take part in a community walk to interact with local residents at the Iby’iwacu cultural village. Explore their traditional lifestyles, enjoy cultural dances and music, and consider purchasing handmade craft souvenirs. Don't miss the chance to visit the Musanze Caves.
Read about Discovering 7 Interesting Facts about Rwanda, You Might Not Know
At the Twin Lakes, it’s all about immersing yourself in the views and a slower pace of life
Where To Stay In The Twin Lakes
There's something for everyone: Over the past several years, the Twin Lakes have sprung up in guesthouses, campsites, and glamping opportunities.
1. Virunga Lodge
The premier accommodation option in the region is the Virunga Lodge, which stands prominently above the others. Situated on one of the highest hills, this luxury resort provides unparalleled views of the Twin Lakes, with a backdrop of three majestic volcanoes: Muhabura, Sabyinyo, and Gahinga.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the property underwent a minor refurbishment, emerging even more exquisite than before. Guests can relish dinner made from local ingredients in the cozy ambiance of the lodge's intimate restaurant, indulge in the newly-built sauna at the spa, or simply unwind with a book by the fire in the main room. For added convenience, a personal butler can arrange a fireside experience in your room. The entire estate is conducive to leisurely strolls, allowing guests to soak in the breathtaking vistas.
For those open to a slightly extended morning journey, this Twin Lakes resort presents an enticing option for gorilla trekking. While it requires an hour's drive from Virunga Lodge to reach the gorillas, guests can embark on a trekking adventure and then extend their stay to savor additional days amidst the scenic allure of the Twin Lakes.
At Yoyuu, an inclusive vegan meditation retreat, rooms and spaces are thoughtfully designed for meditation, providing breathtaking views of Lake Ruhondo. The ambiance is curated with a blend of stark cement walls, dark wood, soft greenery, and white cushions.
The fact that it's less than two hours from Kigali makes it even better. Guests are asked to make reservations through retreat openings that are publicized on Instagram. Beyond engaging in daily meditation, visitors to the retreat have the opportunity to participate in activities such as gardening, scenic walks, and yoga.
3. Byiza Lodge
Among the area's most panoramic vistas is Byiza Lodge, a Twin Lakes hotel situated nearly perfectly between Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo. Many tastefully decorated terraces overlook the lakes and adjacent towns, making this an ideal family destination. Bicycle rides frequently stop by the lodge. Lake views, breakfast, and dinner are included in the $200 per night rate of the rooms.
While camping options became available on the property in 2017, the completion of the rooms occurred in 2022. Though the rooms are modest in design, the culinary offerings are exceptional. Dinner choices include marinated beef brochettes, fish curries, and locally sourced vegetables. For breakfast, guests can relish homemade passionfruit juice and shakshuka.
4. Other Guesthouses
Numerous more suggested small guesthouses and camping areas may be found nearby, such as Ruhondo Beach Resort, My Hill Eco Lodge, Twin Lakes Recreational Island, and Frama Eco-Lodge. Even more upscale Airbnbs are now accessible: the recently opened, well-equipped My Writer's Patch is ideal for small groups traveling alone.
Twin Lakes have sprung up in guesthouses, campsites, and glamping opportunities
Conclusion - A Memorable Twin Lakes Cruise
For those inspired by the allure of Twin Lakes Rwanda and eager to embark on their own adventure, we offers a seamless eVisa application process. Travelers can apply for a Rwanda eVisa through our website at Rwanda Immigration Services. This online platform simplifies the visa application, ensuring a smooth and efficient entry into the Land of a Thousand Hills.
Remember that every click on our eVisa platform brings you one step closer to the experience of a lifetime as you look forward to the beauty of Twin Lakes Rwanda. Take advantage of the chance to discover how Twin Lakes is a unique destination due to its beautiful combination of natural beauty and cultural immersion.