Hiking for mental health

Thursday July 15 2021
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The hiking team takes on a trail up Mt Kabuye in Gakenke District, Northern Province. PHOTO | SANDRINE UMUTONIWASE


It all started on a Saturday, when my husband invited me to join the A team for a hike - the latest craze in the country.

The team meets around 6.30am at a given location to await the leader's word on where to go for hiking. Everyone is advised to hike at their own pace.

For the slow, there is always a team of two to three people that stays behind to give assistance. How scary and interesting that sounds!

The first time I joined them, they departed from Rebero. From a distance, the mountain ahead was intimidating I felt like I was not going to make it to the top, but the team spirit around me urged me on.

To climb the mountain, we started with the plain terrain; that way. I learnt, we would climb the mountain from its lowest starting point. I struggled at the start - as did a man ahead of me who was about to give up but changed his mind when he saw me going through the same problems.

The experience has not only helped me physically but also mentally. In life, there are thing we encounter and think impossible, but I learnt that the first limits are in how we set our minds to something.


For example, when I first saw a mountain 1,825 metres high, I told myself that it was impossible, but when I pushed myself I conquered it.

My favourite trail was Rebero, which is referred to as Butamwa. We started at Juru Park, went down to Cyumbati and on to Miduha. We took up the road towards Mageragere then descended to Nyarufunzo and were up to Mt Rebero.

It’s a moderate trail of about 11km, something I never thought possible to me. In the short meeting we had a­fter hiking, the newcomers were asked about their first haking experience. I said I liked it though it was so tiring and I wasn’t sure I would come back soon.Everybody laughed.

Hiking helped me explore the country more, releasing weekly stress. My second experience was super challenging because it was a trail of 20km. Our starting point was Nyagasambu. We passed Kibaza, climbed Mt Fumbwe at an altitude of 1,825m all the way to its peak known as Umunara.

We then went down to Nyamirama to Bigarama, which was a plain walk, and went down again from Ntungamo all the way to Lake Muhazi.

From Lake Muhazi, there is a great view, where you can clearly see mountaims like Kibara, Gisagara in Gikomero.

There are also Mt Kayanga in Rutunga, Mt Bukure, Tanda and Rusizi in Gicumbi district. In Tanda and Rusizi, King Ruganza I Bwimba had a home. Moreover, Lake Muhazi is bordered by three provinces: Kigali city in Gasabo district, Eastern province (Rwamagana, Gatsibo, Kayonza), and the Northern province.