Of all my travels, Kibuye is one of my favorite places I’ve encountered. Both of my experiences there have been pure bliss, as if Kibuye is a small pocket of the world that encourages happiness despite whatever exists outside of it. In my experience, Kibuye offers an environment that allows for serenity and nudges you to commit to the moment.

Kibuye came at a perfect leg of our trip, sandwiched along with Gisenyi between hiking in Nyungwe and going on the gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park. Meant primarily to relax and recharge, we checked into Home Saint Jean, picked chairs overlooking Lake Kivu and the layers of mountains that backdropped the lake and buried ourselves in reading (Kurt Vonnegut at the time) and writing. In between chapters, we often caught ourselves staring out at the lake, occasionally getting lost within our imaginations but more often sitting there with clear minds and simply soaking in the moment.

Our one adventure in Kibuye was our journey to bat island, a 20-30 minute boat ride across the lake. About halfway across, the skies darkened, a wind picked up, and the water became choppy, which provided a hauntingly beautiful view of the islands that I had not witnessed before. Moments after we docked on bat island, the clouds opened up and inundated us with a short but powerful rainstorm, a very common weather phenomenon in Rwanda. Partway up the island, we paused and began clapping to invite the bats out from their homes. In response, hundreds of bats circled above us, set against the background of the still ominous sky. It’s a strangely beautiful sight, even for those who are not particularly fond of bats, and I suspect that there are few other places, if any, that offer the same experience.

Once the bats settled back into the trees and the rain lightened, I climbed to the top of the island to get the 360 degree view. I had seen my friends’ pictures from the top of the island the previous year (I had explored a different island), but it was incredible to stand there and see it all for myself. I was also particularly blessed with a unique view, as the clouds were parting just enough to let the late afternoon sun peek through after the storm, illuminating the mountains below.

Kibuye offers an unparalleled calm, a venue where you can physically and emotionally feel on top of the world. Definitely a must-see when traveling through Rwanda!