We discovered Paradise Malahide on our last visit to Lake Kivu...
Paradise Malahide: Our full report
Paradise Malahide is a rustic, intimate and exceptionally friendly guesthouse, which we discovered on our last trip through Gisenyi in September 2011. The lodge is owned and run by a local Rwandese woman who lives here with her son. Before the genocide of 1994, Paradise had been their family home and when they returned after the trouble had come to an end, they rebuilt it and opened as a simple guesthouse in 2003. It has retained a very homely atmosphere, feels personal and seems very well cared for - the immaculate gardens with vast quantities of brightly coloured Bougainvillea, are testament to that!
Paradise Malahide is located in a small village called Rubona, about 7km south from the centre of the Gisenyni. It has a beautiful location on the shores of Lake Kivu, affording lovely views across to some islands – it is a great sun-downer spot if you're lucky enough to have a clear evening!
The main central areas of Paradise Malahide consist of a large, simple, open-sided brick structure. In the centre you'll find a stone fire-pit dug into the floor - around which there is often evening entertainment, such as traditional dancing. The floor is gritted and there are colourful African fabrics covering many of the cushions and chairs. In this area you'll find a number of bamboo chairs and tables for dining. The small bar is also located in here - and it's a popular spot in the evenings to enjoy a drink over a game of Bao (a traditional African game) on one of their boards!
Continuing from the main area down towards the lake, the gardens at Paradise Malahide are well maintained and dotted with cushioned benches and tables - some of which are shaded with thatched umbrellas. The small beach at the front of this area is public, so there may be a few local people milling around enjoying the water as well. Though if you want somewhere a bit more private, there's a separate beach in front of the rooms with some sun loungers and shaded umbrellas which is reserved for guests.
There are 10 rooms at Paradise Malahide – including six individual bungalows and four apartments. The bungalows are dotted around the gardens to one side of the central areas, and the apartments are in a two-tiered structure at the far end.
All of rooms are all fairly simple. The circular bungalows have a double bed with mosquito netting, a couple of bamboo chairs and a small table, as well as a wardrobe for storing clothes. The African Kanga curtains add a splash of colour, though the rooms still feel fairly dark. The one advantage of this with the help of flagged-stone floors, is that they remain cool.
A quarter of each room is separated into a small tiled bathroom. Like the bedroom, it's very simple and designed to be functional as opposed to particularly stylish, and did feel slightly dated. There's a small sink, flush toilet, and a low wall separates the shower, although there's no curtain or partition.
The apartments are in a separate building, with two rooms on the bottom and two rooms on the first floor. They all have the same simple design and style as the bungalows - but are quite a bit larger, and they have a large verandah out the front. It's possible to add an extra bed into these rooms.
A large part of the charm of this guesthouse is that you don't feel cut off from the local community. Each evening at around 6pm you can sit and listen to the fishermen sing as they go out onto the lake, and returning again early in the morning. You can hear the sounds from the nearby village, and watch children play in the water at the lakes shore. The lodge can arrange trips out with the local fishermen, visits to local tea and coffee making plantations, trips out to Akeza Island (less than 5 minutes by boat, and also owned by Paradise) and even perhaps a private dinner here.
When we visited Paradise Malahide we were very impressed by the management team and staff here. They were keen to expand the range of activities they could offer to travellers in order for them to get the most out of their experience, so ask us about the latest options.
Our viewParadise Malahide is a charmingly rustic and simple lodge. It's not luxurious or pretentious, and doesn't feel out of place in the surrounding environment. It's well run, and with great food and a lovely location we think it's excellent value for money.
Ideal length of stay: Stay for 3 - 4 nights at Paradise Malahide to relax by the beach and take advantage of some of the activities on offer.
Directions: Gisenyi is about 4 hours drive from Kigali, or Volcanoes.
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: Breakfast at Paradise Malahide is served from an a la carte menu - although we didn't have a chance to sample it ourself, the manager told us you can order things such as eggs, crepes, fruit salads and breads.
Lunch and dinner are both served from the same extensive menu. There's plenty of choice here, including a good selection of local and fish dishes. We enjoyed a delicious grilled tilapia (from Lake Kivu) served with vegetables and chips. The food at Paradise Malahide was very well presented, and there was plenty of it!
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are an extra cost at Paradise Malahide.
Attitude towards children: Paradise Malahide welcomes children.
Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions here.
Special activities & services: With advance notice Paradise Malahide can arrange for a local lady to come and babysit children for a few hours. Please note that they will not have a professional qualification in childcare.
Equipment: Currently there is no special equipment such as cots or highchairs for children, but Paradise Malahide hope to purchase a few items such as these in the future.
Notes: Paradise Malahide is a very friendly lodge, and there are quite a few activities which can be organised from there. That said, it's quite small, and without a large beach, and so children may get restless.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Currently there is no internet access at Paradise Malahide, but when we visited in September 2011 they were planning on installing WiFi shortly. There is likely to be an extra charge for this.
TV & radio: There are no TVs here.
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Medical care: There is a first-aid kit on site, and a medical centre very close by. Paradise Malahide have a local doctor who they can contact in case of emergency.
Dangerous animals: Low Risk
Security measures: Paradise Malahide have security guards on site.
Fire safety: There are fire extinguishers in the communal areas, and the staff are trained how to use them.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge
Money: Payment for extras should be made in cash.