With the land area of 993 square kilometers, 13 sectors, 88 cells and 537 villages; Karongi District is situated in close to 130 kilometers from Kigali City.
Located in Western Province, the district has been taking advantage of its proximity to Lake Kivu separating Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to fast track development.
Like many other districts, Karongi is characterized by a hilly topography with attractive features as well as cultural and historical vestiges of great significance to the country.
These include the Congo Nile Divide, spectacular view of Lake Kivu shores, Nyungwe National Park, Gisovu Tea Plantation, Muciro natural forest and Ndaba rock among others.
Located in Nyarurembo Village, Kibuye Cell of Bwishyura Sector, Rwamatete Peninsula is among cornerstones for Karongi district’s attractiveness where a traveler standing there gets a clear view of eye-catching islands in Lake Kivu and beautiful hills in the area formerly known as Kibuye.
40 years ago, the peninsula’s attractive beauty lured the Presbyterian Church in Rwanda which detected investment opportunity in it and built accommodations to reduce dependence on foreign aids.
This investment paid off big time that it birthed Bethany Hotel, an icon of Rwanda’s hospitality sector on the shores of Lake Kivu.
It is among favourite hospitality establishments built in Karongi long ago.
It sits on the shores of Lake Kivu where guests are awakened, every morning, by singing birds from surrounding ornamental trees, waving water in Lake Kivu or folk songs by fishers returning home.
Speaking to IGIHE; Pastor Fidèle Sibomana, the Managing Director of Bethany Investment Group has revealed that the hotel was built in 1982 to reduce reliance on foreign aid.
“We foresaw that there would be a time when aid from donors might not be available. That is when the church started developing home grown solutions to achieve self-reliance in the future,” he said.
Today, Bethany Hotel has 55 cozy rooms with a target to increase them to 80 in the next few years.
Prices are relatively low as one night accommodation ranges from Rwf60,000 to Rwf30,000 per room depending of clients’ choices and available means.
The management says that the low price is meant to make the hotel affordable for Rwandans willing to enjoy the beauty of their country in a relaxed setting.
The General Manager of Bethany Hotel, Janvier Ntwali who has held the position for eight years, says that clients’ feedback on offered services is very positive, thanks to a dedicated team of professionals.
“We offer different services at this hotel to guests looking for a relaxed setting, you can have meal at our bar and restaurant or work with us to organize a meeting here,” he said.
As IGIHE journalist visited the hotel recently, he was taken to different islands in Lake Kivu aboard its boats. Visited natural features include the Island of Peace (Akarwa k’Amahoro), Chapeau de Napoléon and Monkeys Island (Akarwa k’Inkende) among others.
Apart from the view of Lake Kivu, the hotel is surrounded by ornamental trees and flourishing garden, adding up to other services fascinating guests to prolong their stay.
Besides, the hotel recently launched a modern Coffee Shop for interested guests to taste coffee grown in the vicinity of Lake Kivu.
Bethany Hotel has so far opened branches in Rubavu, Kigali and Nyagatare.