Six in the morning. A leaden sky hangs like a lid over Goma. The chaotic route to the port does not help with morning mood swings. Why get up so early? To visit an island? Big deal.
On Lake Kivu, the sky and moods are clearing up. The boat begins to sail along the first islets, beaches and coves of the Idjwi archipelago set amidst the calm waters of the lake, between the mountains of the Kalehe territory and the hills of Rwanda.
After 90 minutes, the Goma-Bukavu shuttle makes a stopover at the small Bugarula landing stage, at the foot of a promising small forest. After the inevitable customs control, Luc and his wife Espérance, pioneers of ecological and sustainable tourism on the small pearl of the Great Lakes, are back.
By motorcycle taxi, following a dirt track along the lake, one can reach the eco-lodge with thatched roofs under the eucalyptus trees, built on land that slopes gently down towards the lake. In the heart of Kivu, a province at war for 25 years, Idjwi enjoys a peace whose value is appreciated by each of its 200,000 inhabitants. “Idjwi is a territory where you can walk for a whole day without being disturbed by armed groups or soldiers”, says Luc, a former member of the Human Rights Department of the United Nations Mission in Congo (Monusco).
And it is true. The welcome of the inhabitants is kind when motorcycle taxis cross small villages along the track that leads up to the island’s crests. Here, panorama lovers can see the Congolese and Rwandan coasts at a glance. “The potential of the island of Idjwi is enormous but it is very under-exploited”, says Luc, who launched the “Espérance” agency in Bukavu with his wife. “Look: we are here by a beautiful lake, at the foot of the mountains, with possibilities to go hiking, walking, mountain biking, kayaking and much more”.
Idjwi is also at the crossroads of all the main tourist attractions in the region: Virunga and Kahozi Biega National Parks, and the coast around Kibuye in Rwanda.
When falling asleep in the eco-lodge in the silence of the island, we knew that we did the right thing by coming to the island of Idjwi.
Hamaji Magazine recommends the Espérance Agency, named after Espérance by her husband Luc, who builds Eco-lodges and organize stays in Idjwi. One could not hope for a better welcome.
Contact: Agence de l’Espérance: +243 999 941 197- +243 998 225 588