The northern province capital city is located two hours drive from Kigali. The journey up to Musanze passes through some stunning scenery and you will probably stop often to admire the famous thousands hills. And the beautiful postcard’s landscapes continue when you reach the city. On your right you can enjoy the view of the volcanoes. They are all there just outside of the city, seeming close to you. Sometimes they are hidden by the clouds, sometimes they are totally visible and it is just stunning.
As you maybe know, it is from Musanze ( Kinigi in fact) that you begin your gorilla trek. Since May 2017, the gorilla permit has increase a lot and costs now 1500 dollars. The experience is unique and Rwanda really takes seriously the protection of the majestic gorillas, conservationism matters a lot and gorillas population increases each year which is amazing! But this budget can be too high and not everybody can afford it , but don’t worry, you can still spend some time in Musanze and enjoy what the city offers!
The Twin Lakes
Ruhondo and Burera lakes are located at the base of the Virunga volcanoes in Musanze. Surrounded by hills this spot is, in my humble opinion, too neglected. The view is stunning and the access very easy by car or taxi moto. To do : from there you can hire a boat to go on a scenic lakecruise (sunset is amazing) and watch many waterbirds as herons, kingfishers, cormorans, stalks, cranes… or simply enjoy the view of the Virunga volcanoes from the lake.
Hiking Bisoke Mountain
The Bisoke is a dormant volcano in the Virunga. The name of this volcano comes from the two crater lakes at his top. “Bisoke” meaning soaked with water.
The popular trail is the one leading to the Crater Lake at the summit. The trail is about 6hours climbing, depends on your level, which consists of 4hours of ascending to the summit and 2hours of descending. You will be led by park rangers, who are usually natives of the Volcanoes national park very knowledgeable about the mountain adventures. The departure is from Kinigi, twice a day. You can contact the RDB for more info through their Visit Rwanda website !
Canoë day trip on Ruhondo lake
Kingfisher journeys organize canoë day trip. You will leave the town around 8am and be back at 4pm. The experience is accessible to kids from 4 years. I only received positive feedback about this canoë trip. The team who will come with you is apparently excellent and they know eveything about the birds you will see and the area. Price is around 100$ by person , if you are Rwandan or Resident in Rwanda, you have discount price. I didn’t manage to do it when I was in Musanze, because I didn’t book in time and they were fully booked, but it is clearly on my to do list for the next time I will visit Musanze.
Walk in the city
Musanze is a small town, and with its beautiful scenery walking in the streets is great. Volcanoes are all around you, it is really something unique! You can visit the differents markets in town, find beautiful kitenge ( name for the wax fabric in Rwanda), some coming from Goma so differents from the ones in Kigali , the Diane Fossey Museum to learn more about the gorillas and the protection of this endangered species , or walk to Crema coffee shop to enjoy the best coffee in town .
In the main street leading to Gisenyi, and just after the Volcana lounge, you will find a beautiful house turned in Art gallery, the Inshuti Arts & Culture Center. Here some local artists expose their talent. Every friday, they also organize a happy hour called the Explosion night with cocktails and music.
Musanze will not disappoint you and it is maybe because of the altitude, but there is something very relaxing in spending time there!