I confess that I hadn’t expected to discover a tranquil retreat overlooking the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo, but that is what I found at the Hotel Paradis Malahide on the shores of Lake Kivu – a vast lake on Rwanda’s western border, and a popular spot for water sports and tilapia fishing.
The Hotel Paradis Malahide, Lake Kivu is filled with traditional Rwandan features – guests stay in rondwels (traditional circular bungalows) that are charmingly rustic but also comfortable and equipped with modern facilities. The restaurant and bar area is built around a large hearth and is tastefully decorated with traditional Rwandan crafts, ranging from musical instruments to carved-out fishing boats. The hotel will also arrange Intore performances by traditional dance troupes on request.
Our spacious room led directly onto the garden and private beach, where we watched the sun set over the Kirunga Mountains. Once the light had faded we sat in the warmth of the large open fire, watching the electrical storms flash in the distance. The garden faces westward across the lake, and tables are scattered around in natural pockets that allow visitors a deceptively private space to enjoy a few Rwandan beers brewed less than half a mile away.
The hotel owns a boat and will happily arrange for guests to sail to several of the nearby islands or go fishing on the lake. The nearest town is Gisenyi, which is close to the Virunga Mountains, home of the mountain gorillas. Gisenyi has few attractions aside from the lake, but after an early start and a hard day’s trekking it’s worth the short journey to this beautiful and peaceful spot for a well-deserved rest.
Hotel Paradis Malahide, Lake Kivu has six bungalows and four apartments, and is situated in Rubona, 6km from Gisenyi. Bungalows cost $70 per night including breakfast. Regular buses run to Gisenyi from Kigali and Ruhengeri.