Personally I was rather unimpressed with the National Museum. Bradt Guide even suggests it’s worth going far out of your way for to see it. Unless you have a specific interest in ethnology/anthropology I would seriously question this advice. The museum is nicely set up and there are some interesting exhibits, but it’s also rather small and non-descriptive. It may be one of the nicest museums in the greater region, but that doesn’t make it a worthwhile destination in itself. By and large Butare has little to nothing to offer. If you don’t arrive later than in the early afternoon it’s definitely worth considering catching a bus to Gikorongo to check out the Genocide Memorial there. See below…
The bus shuttle from Butare takes roughly 3 hours, depending where you get off at Nyungwe. I stayed at the well recommended Gisakura Guesthouse and can confirm the good things that have been said and written about it by many before me. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. The rooms are simple but clean, and the food is quite nice too. Surprisingly you can even access the WIFI of the National Park Office next door if you need/want internet. The Gisakura Tea Plantation nearby is great for a stroll and offers some fantastic views, especially in the mornings and late afternoons. I almost enjoyed my walks around there more than Nyungwe forest itself. In Nyungwe I did the Waterfall Trail. Not having my own wheels to move around the park it seemed the only feasible option, and also a convenient one as the trail starts near to Gisakura Guesthouse. The walk down to the waterfall and back took about 3 hours return. The guide was informative and helpful. What I hadn’t realized before arriving to Nyungwe is that you are actually not supposed to take off on any of the trails without a guide. I guess nobody would stop you if you tried, but it’s certainly not encouraged. That also means that you have to consider for what time the walks are scheduled. E.g. the Waterfall Trial is scheduled for 9am and 1pm daily. I enjoyed the walk as the forest is very nice. The waterfall at the bottom is not necessarily small as Bradt Guide suggests. I visited in mid-October (rainy season) and the falls were raging.
Transportation onwards to Kamembe/Cyangugu is a bit of an issue. Hitchhiking is an option, otherwise you have to buy a ticket for the bus coming from Kigali, meaning you have to pay the full Kigali-Cyangugu fare for them to keep a seat open for you. That’s 5300 Francs.
The bus to Kibuye departs at around 7am. It’s a good idea to be at the bus station earlier to secure a seat on the left hand side for better views along the way. The bus gets VERY crowded. If you are a tall person like me you’ll struggle to find room for your legs. I was told the bus ride takes 5-6 hours. It actually took almost 7,5 + in my case a forced break of 90 minutes to change a blown tire. I was very exhausted when I reached Kibuye at 4pm. The views of Lake Kivu and the surrounding hills and rice paddies along the way are indeed very beautiful. If the views are worth the long torturous bus ride I am not fully convinced though. Also take note that during the rainy season the road may be impassable at times. A week after I had travelled rain washed out parts of the road.
I stayed at the Bethanie guesthouse. At 15.000 Francs for an ensuite room It is the best value place I’ve stayed in Rwanda! Great views of the lake, free WIFI, good restaurant. Together with some other traveler I chartered the guesthouse’s boat for the transfer to Gisenyi. It’s a scenic 3 hour ride and offers different views than taking the road.