“All those people came from far in Zaïre, in Zaïre to see the rumble in the jungle there” – Johnny Wakelin.
In 2019, I was backpacking in Africa and visiting a few new countries on that trip – Burundi, Democratic Republic of The Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and repeats to Kenya and Tanzania. After sorting out the DR Congo visa in advance, via booking a gorilla tour at Kahuzi-Biega National Park, we crossed the border into DR Congo after a long and crazy mini-bus from Kigali in Rwanda.
On arrival in DR Congo, we actually had nowhere booked to stay at all. It was dark, our visas were issued at the border and so we decided to stay at the Hotel Horizon, as we had seen it on a Google Search the night before – there was no information on Bukavu in my guidebooks, nor were there any places available to book online. But we knew the Hotel Horizon existed. In the dark night, with no streetlights whatsoever, we got a taxi driver to take three of us – Malina, Russell and myself from the border to the Hotel Horizon in Bukavu. It was a scary trip – the car felt like it would break down at any moment.
The Hotel Horizon didn’t look too far on the map and within 20 minutes we had arrived – the hotel seemed empty but still we had to bargain down a price and they were very confused that we were three friends. They kept asking which one of Russell and I was the wife of Malina – how about neither?! Finally we came to a deal of $100 US for three of us for one night, including breakfast. When you look on Google Maps, it gets quite misleading – it looks as if there are loads of cafes, bars, hotels and restaurants here – there really are not – and after sunset everything shuts – the streets are pitch black here.
1.Location: Somewhere In Bukavu
To be honest, I had no idea where the Hotel Horizon is. But we got there and we stayed there! The map above shows it is not far from the border, and indeed it does overlook the Lake. Lake Kivu which has some islands on it and spans the Rwanda to DR Congo border.
2.Room Sharing/Bed Sharing – Allowed?
We were in room 106, down a lonely narrow corridor. We shared a double bed and a single bed in our room. For some reason, I don’t have any photos of inside the room, perhaps because of the blackouts.
Breakfast was decent and was served from 7.00 – 9.00 a.m. in the dining room – which has two options – the balcony side and the indoor room. We ate our breakfast on the balcony, admiring the views. Tropical fruit, fruit juice, croissants and coffee.
4.Midnight Blackout Rule
There are a lot of problems in the DR Congo. We noticed this immediately. Electricity is poor and by law no lights are on after midnight, though we think it was earlier. They cut the electricity around 23.45 and turned it on again around 6 a.m. – be aware of this as we couldn’t charge our phones, cameras or laptops overnight.
Well, there was slow Wi-Fi that did actually work in the bar area and parts of the hotel, which we needed in order to contact our guide, Kelvin to meet us in the morning for the Gorilla tour. It didn’t work in the room and of course also not during the blackout.
6.View Over Lake Kivu
Perhaps the biggest surprise when we awoke was the view over the lake. It was rather splendid and even could be considered romantic. There wasn’t much time to admire it though, as that morning we got a 4×4 jeep to take us through the dirt roads up to the Kazui Biega National Park.
This was actually a really pretty hotel with not just a view of the lake but leafy gardens.
We are enclosed here which makes it safe and that’s quite important in a country which has its safety problems, not to mention money problems as well as the history, even as close as the 1990s when the Rwandan genocide affected the whole region.
9.Visa and Tours
To organise the visa in advance, we needed a local contact, a gorilla tour booking and a hotel reservation. We didn’t actually book the Hotel Horizon in advance, we just wrote it on the visa application as the place we would stay. Kelvin was our guide.
10.Bar and Primus
My first ever Congolese beer was a Primus and I had it here in the bar at the Hotel Horizon!
And that was it! Our night in the Hotel Horizon! There is not much information on the Hotel Horizon online, but it definitely exists and here are the details –
Here are some videos from our stay at the Hotel Horizon in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of The Congo: