Lake Kivu rests on the western border of Rwanda. Shared by both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it is a vast body of water that offers a ton of surprises. It’s hidden hot springs are one of them! For the equivalent of $5, you can get an unbelievable massage from the locals here. Just tip them- they deserve it!
What to expect
When our driver took us to the hot springs, we weren’t sure what we’d do there. We figured we would take a few pictures, see a small pool of hot water, and be done with it. What we weren’t expecting was individual attention by some incredible masseuses.
The hot springs are the result of nearby volcanic activity, and the locals swear by their medicinal powers. We saw people bathing in the hot springs, while others caked the mud on their skin.
All in all, if you’re visiting Gisenyi or the Lake Kivu area, the hot springs are the best thirty minutes you’ll spend that day!
What to wear
We didn’t know we were getting massages, and as you can see, I’m in a dress! I’d probably choose something that you don’t mind getting muddy. You really shouldn’t be getting dirty, but the sandbags around the hot spring pool are quite slippery.
Also, even though many tourists wear shorts, sundresses, etc. it is best to wear something that covers the knees in Rwanda, as that shows respect for Rwandan culture. (Yes, I do realize I am wearing a short dress here! When packing, I was told by my Rwandan friends to feel free wearing shorts/sundresses, etc. but looking back, I would opt for longer dresses. I always want to respect the local culture everywhere I go!)
What to bring
Tip money for the kind souls who give the world’s cheapest massages!
The lady in the purple shirt in these photos was my favorite. She worked tirelessly and joyfully. What a sweetheart! And… she was deaf! That strikes a particular soft spot with me, as both of my parents are deaf! I only wish American Sign Language was universal!!
Can you tell I’m ticklish? This is me barely surviving under this lady’s shoulder massage! I don’t know how I got through the foot massage below!!
Check out the locals bathing in the hot spring pool! No shirt, no shoes, no problem 🙂