Why It’s Smart to Get a Guide for the Congo Nile Trail
Are you wondering if it’s worth getting a guide for the Congo Nile Trail (CNT)?
Whenever our team meets hikers or cyclists with a guide, they start talking about the greatness of their experience. But when we run into self-guided travellers, they ignore everybody else and head straight to the guide in our group. They have so many questions and stories to share! Once they compare the distances they did, they normally realise they had done many more than us. They have been walking on the signposted biking trail, missing most of the shortcuts and handy paths …
Walkers without guides regularly seek information at guesthouses and hotels they use. The staff don’t know much, so they give clients phone contacts of those who do — CNT guides. We end up trying to help somebody who is lost or doesn’t know the daily hours expected or needs to book their next accommodation. All fine, we attempt to assist, but what to do when they ask for directions? It’s hard to offer those when you aren’t there.
When they inquire with the locals on the Trail, the language problem comes in. Villagers do not necessarily know what the “Congo Nile Trail” is, so when they listen they may only catch “Congo Nile” and show the direction towards the village that is called Congo Nile … And what does one do when a river is full and you need to find a way to cross it? In addition to that, visitors sometimes complain about children following them on CNT without understanding that the gesture they used wanting to say “hi” to the kids means “come here” locally!
On a guided tour you will see fishermen sitting somewhere and cooking unusual food, and there will be an explanation ready for you. If you are on your own but curious, what shall you do? A guide also helps answering questions locals have about you, reducing suspicion and building friendships. And how will you get help if something happens to you? Who will call a motorcycle or a boat for you? Your guide is there to handle any challenges, he is your backup.
If you choose to do CNT self-guided it will still be awesome! But it’s like taking notes in a classroom without a teacher to explain what you are writing down.
Don’t hesitate and schedule a call with us to get more information about hiring a guide/driver in Rwanda, Uganda or DR Congo.
We hiked the Congo Nile Trail in October 2022. It was an amazing experience – absolutely beautiful place and people. We loved the wealth of knowledge and camaraderie that our two Gorilla Highlands guides brought to the experience (Enock from Rubavu to Karongi; and Cesar from Karongi to Rusizi). They shared their unique insights on the places we visited. They happily answered our many, many, many questions – and allowed me to practice bits of Kinyarwandan on them. They helped to bridge any number of logistical, linguistic, and cultural challenges. We have hiked a variety of long-distance, way-marked trails over the years, usually independently. The Congo Nile Trail is a trail that benefits immeasurably from a knowledgeable, local guide. I cannot recommend the Gorilla Highlands guides and team more highly!