Idjwi Island. A place few people know of and fewer still visit. Yet, at 340 sq km in size and 70 km in length, it is the second largest inland island in Africa and can be seen clearly from both the Rwandan and Congolese mainlands. Still, the island has remained neglected and significantly underdeveloped, with only a few car-free dirt roads criss-crossing the land and linking one tiny village to the next.
A documentary on Idjwi Island by Geo on French television channel Arte entitled “L’île oubliée d’Afrique (Africa’s Forgotten Island)” said “The inhabitants of Idjwi Island on Lake Kivu are poor but benefit from a a very precious good in this region of Africa: peace”. A trip to Idjwi is invariably relaxing, with friendly islanders totally unjaded by tourism greeting you wherever you go with warm smiles and no hassles.
Activities include visiting one of the many pineapple plantations (and of course picking and eating one), village and nature walks, bird-watching, swimming in the lake and interacting with the local people to learn about life on Idjwi. Boat rides can also be organised, taking you around the small islets surrounding the island, where one of the main attractions must be Ishushu 1 and Ishushu 2. Ishushu 1 has a small and beautiful fisherman’s village, and the inhabitants take care of neighbouring Ishushu 2 in the owner’s absence. Pay the fishermen a small tip to guide you through the lush, primary tropical forest on this little piece of paradise, abounding in bird life and also home to a troupe of as yet unidentified monkeys.
More information can be found on Idjwi Island on Agence Esperance or through local tour operator Gorilla Travel (email: email@example.com / Tel: +243 999 666 600, +243 818 105 583).