Interested in exploring part of the Democratic Republic of Congo? This is a fantastic opportunity to a see a peaceful area of the country and visit the second largest inland island in Africa, and the tenth largest in the world. Idjwi Island - in Lake Kivu - is part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and is situated on Lake Kivu between Rwanda and the DRC. The island is removed from the rest of Congo in a lot of ways. With it's more than 250,000 inhabitants, it has no paved roads, no running water, few government services, and has been isolated from much of the country's recent past. Idjwi is known as a safe haven in the region.
Idjwi is a peaceful and beautiful landscape with welcoming people, endless fields, small villages, and rural fishing communities. Apart from a few generators and solar panels, there is no electricity connection. The population mainly speaks their local language - ‘Kihavu’ - and there are less than a dozen cars on the island (so transport is by moto, bicycle or on foot). When visiting, it feels like entering a different world, and it's difficult to imagine that Goma is just an hour away by ferry.
Yves is a life long resident and well respected community member on the island, and as director of Idjwi's only radio station is a bit of a public figure. Yves will be your guide and take you around to meet local people and explore various communities. There are a wide range of entrepreneurs that you can meet with. Yves can take you to pottery, fishing, farming, brick making communities, and more. In addition, you can visit his radio station, local markets, schools, and health clinics that dot the island. Discuss with Yves and select those of interest to you. Fees paid for the visit support the entrepreneurs and local community initiatives you meet with.
"Idjwi Island is my home and a place I like to teach people about. It's a chance to see a unique side of the DRC and support local communities!"
Yves is an inspiring person who is heavily involved in community development. One project he's working on is the distribution of used computers that he receives from a donor in the EU, which he sets up in local schools. He is interested in computers and gadgets, which is rather ironic as he has lived almost his entire life on the island without electricity (solar panels are slowly starting to change that).
When the financial situation permits, Yves buys diesel for the radio station's generator, so that he can transmit radio for the population. He goes around the island with his dictaphone and interviews fellow Idjwians about topics relevant for them. He knows everyone on the Island and is in particular a friend of the Pygmyes who have historically been marginalized. Yves loves the island and does everything possible to improve the lives of people in his community.
As your guide, Yves will meet you in Gisenyi, Rwanda and facilitate crossing the border into DRC, and boarding the ferry. He'll stay with you throughout the duration of your stay organizing days trips to various parts of the island where you can visit communities of pottery makers, pineapple farmers, fishing communities, and a range of other skilled entrepreneurs. You can practice your hand at each livelihood along the way or simply learn more about the communities and people on the island.
Yves will accompany you throughout your visit, providing you with the assurance of having a well-respected member of the community at your side. In addition, he'll help you with your border crossing, ferry rides, hotel accommodations, transportation while on Idjwi island, visits to entrepreneurs of the island, and will arrange a trustworthy taxi for you from the ferry to the border crossing back into Rwanda.
Specifically, he'll meet you at the start of the trip in Rubavu (Gisenyi) Rwanda, where he will facilitate your border crossing into the DRC. He'll have your ferry tickets in hand and accompany you on the one hour ride from Goma to Idjwi Island. There aren't many options for overnight accommodations on the island, but Yves will have your room(s) ready at a comfortable, modest local hotel.
At the end of your trip, Yves will help you board the ferry back to Goma and have a trustworthy taxi driver meet and transport you back to the Grand Barriere boarder point into the Rwanda. To avoid confusion at the Rwanda / DRC boarder, you'll need to have your visa to enter DRC ready in advance.
Note, the Vayando fee covers taxi to / from Grand Barriere boarder point to the ferry in Goma, roundtrip ferry ride from Goma to Idji Island, two nights hotel accommodation on Idjwi, local transport on the island, fee's paid to entrepreneurs visited during stay, and Yves' services.