After a few nights in Gisenyi, we boarded a sleek, new speed boat to cross the length of Lake Kivu. We donned comfortable life jackets, which were a more fashion friendly black (vs. the traditional fluorescent orange), and took off. As we got some distance between us and land, an imposing, prehistoric looking volcano came into view.
Mount Nyiragongo is an active volcano just across the Rwandan border, near the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our guide informed us that in the evening, you can see red lava on it.
(Go here for a wicked video of the lava lake from people who trekked to the crater’s edge.)
As the volcano faded into the distance, we passed a natural gas structure which marks the future of Rwanda’s energy needs. According to a BBC News article from 2004, “the lake is holding enough unexploited energy to meet Rwanda’s needs for 200 years” though we were told they will also be exporting the gas to other African nations.
During the boat ride, I tracked our progress across the lake using Google Maps on my BlackBerry Curve. It was incredibly accurate, and practically speaking, kept me from asking “how much longer?”
The scenery passing us by consisted of green hills, speckled with homes, and the occasional coffee plantation. After an hour or two, we came ashore for a bathroom break at a hotel, and ended up taking a light second breakfast of eggs, bread, orange juice, and locally grown coffee.
The boat was fast. Very fast. Yet it felt incredibly safe. Peter pointed out the rubber segments on each side, which when inflated, would provide the stability we were all appreciating. Peter also used his iPhone’s GPS app to clock us at 100 kph. That sounded about right.
My favorite experience from the boat ride was the village we stopped at near the end. It required calling ahead, and it wasn’t free, however they put on a song and dance performance for us which we all enjoyed.
I used the opportunity to take and print a few photos for the children (Dog Meets World). After printing the first one, I soon found myself overwhelmed by kids to the point where it was getting difficult to manage.
Ben suggested we get a group photo, and then I can make multiple prints on the boat. That approach was less stressful, though it also put me on the boat rather than interacting with the kids during our short stay. In the end, I was glad I could leave them with a few images.
When the boat set off, we looked back and saw what seemed to be the whole village gathered at the lake’s edge to see us off. And as we neared the southern edge of Lake Kivu, the overcast skies finally began to give way to blue skies and sunshine. A little too late for our photographic needs, however a pleasant way to end the trip all the same.