Sextantio, an eco lodge built on an ethnographical concept of Rwanda’s traditional huts is bringing a new touristic face to Nkombo, Rwanda’s biggest island in the middle of Lake Kivu, Western Rwanda.
The lodge offers a view over the various islands, and aims at showcasing the best the predominantly fishing community can offer.
This attempt has been tried out with two similar projects in Italy- towards safeguarding the historical landscape of villages- of Santo Stefano di Sessanio and in the Sassi di Matera which have survived the last 70 years unscathed.
The huts project (Capanne Project) owners – Sextantio members say that in their Africa venture (in Rwanda) the problem is purely a cultural one and this is a challenge that they are ready to try out to succeed in.
“All these activities have the principal objective of maintaining the native social and cultural balance in order to preserve the dignity of the local populations and not to turn them into hordes of beggars or, in the best-case scenario, sellers of dubious local art and handicrafts, as happens in many African resorts,” the group said on their website.
The huts project contains traditional Rwandan beds with layered straw mats and mattresses. Bathrooms are equipped with showers, bidets and hot water.
Though located on a distant island, its in-room amenities come with Wi-Fi, and also a daily housekeeping service is included in the lodging package.
The lodge’s communal areas comprise a dining area with a large table seating fifteen people, a barbecue area and a traditional open kitchen. The private beach has a landing stage for the Sextantio boat to dock, pajotte (open-sided thatched structure) and a lit bonfire in the evening.
Nkombo Island, on Lake KIvu, is undeniably one of Rwanda’s beauties with flourishing green hills, a peaceful breeze blowing from the lake and an exciting, calm and quiet nature. It has a shape and colour of an emerald, with traditional life-styles, fishing boats and hills.
Nkombo island has for many years been considered “isolated” from the mainland not only because it is an island which is not easily accessible but also because of the fact that the people speak a different dialect- Mashi- a language that is not exactly Kinyarwanda though close in accent.
However, this has been changing over the years.
With five weekly Rwandair flights scheduled taking 40 minutes between Kigali and Kamembe in Rusizi, the facility offers pick-up from the Kamembe airport with a transfer time of around 45 minutes by canoe to Nkombo Island.
The Island now has a school and health facilities and a ferry.