Paradise Malahide

Paradise Malahide: Our full report

6 bungalows and 4 apartments.
Suitable for all ages
All year

Paradise Malahide is a rustic guesthouse which we discovered on our a previous trip through Gisenyi in September 2011. Located in the small Rwandan village of Rubona, about 7km south of the centre of Gisenyi, it sits on the shores of Lake Kivu, with beautiful views across to some islands in the lake.

Paradise Malahide is owned and run by a local Rwandese woman, who lives here with her son. Opened to guests in 2003, it was formerly her family home, and has retained a personal, homely atmosphere. It also feels very well cared for; on our last visit in May 2017 the immaculate gardens were ablaze with colour from the vast quantities of bougainvillea, a testament to the pride taken with the property. With lovely views across the lake, it is also a great sundowner spot on a clear evening!

Guest rooms at Paradise Malahide are made up of six individual bungalows and four ‘apartment’ rooms, all fairly simple, and linked by pathways that are lit at night. The circular bungalows, built of local wood and volcanic rock, are dotted around the gardens to one side of the central area, and the ‘apartment’ rooms are grouped in a larger two-storey structure at the far end.

  • The bungalows have a double bed with mosquito netting, a couple of bamboo chairs, a small table and a wardrobe. Rattan matting covers the flagstone floors, and African kanga curtains add a splash of colour, though the rooms feel quite dark. On the plus side, they do remain cool despite the heat outside.

    A small tiled bathroom leads off the bedroom, and it’s similarly very simple and designed to be functional rather than stylish. There's a small sink, flush toilet and, across one side, a low wall with a brightly coloured shower curtain that separates the shower and stops water going over the floor.

  • The ‘apartment’ rooms are in a separate building, with a twin room and a triple room on the ground floor and the same arrangement on the first floor. Although similar to the bungalows in design and style, these rooms are more spacious, and have a large veranda at the front, set with a couple of chairs.

The main area of Paradise Malahide consists of a large, simple, open-sided brick structure. A stone firepit is dug into the centre of the gritted floor, around which there is often evening entertainment, such as traditional dancing. In this area, you'll find a number of bamboo chairs and dining tables brightened by colourful African fabrics and cushions. It’s friendly and cosy, though a little dark. The small bar, also located here, is a popular spot in the evenings to enjoy a drink over a game of bao (a traditional African board game). On cooler evenings, a bucket of hot coals may be placed under the tables to warm you up, so be careful where you put your feet!

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 them shaded by thatched umbrellas. The small beach at the front of this area is public, so there may be a few local people enjoying the water as well. If you want somewhere a bit more private, there's a separate beach in front of the rooms with sunloungers and umbrellas, and this area is reserved for guests.

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 6.00pm, you can listen to the fishermen sing as they go out onto the lake. Local children play in the water at the lake’s shore and you can hear the bustle of the nearby village. The lodge can arrange trips out with the fishermen, visits to local tea- and coffee-making plantations, and trips to Akeza Island (less than five minutes by boat and also owned by Paradise), where guests may be able to enjoy a private dinner.

Kayaking tours run by a British operator are among the newer activities on offer. A small hut by the beach houses the kayaks, from where guests can book full- or half-day trips. When we were there in May, we joined an evening trip. With a fully trained guide, we headed out just before sunset, listening to the tunes of the fishermen on the way, and spent a peaceful hour kayaking around the little islands and visiting the local hot springs.

We were very impressed by the management team and staff during our visit. They were keen to expand the range of activities they could offer, so that travellers could get the most out of their stay, so do ask us about the latest options.

Our view

Paradise Malahide is a charmingly rustic and simple guesthouse. It's not luxurious or pretentious, and doesn't feel out of place in the surrounding environment. It's well-run, exceptionally friendly and, with a reputation for great food and a lovely location, we think it's excellent value for money.


Location: Lake Kivu, Rwanda

Ideal length of stay: Stay for three to four nights at Paradise Malahide to relax by the beach and take advantage of some of the activities on offer.

Directions: Gisenyi is about four hours’ drive from Kigali or Volcanoes National Park.

Accessible by: Fly-and-Transfer

Key personnel

Owner: Independent/Owner-run

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Full Board

Food quality: Although we didn’t eat at Paradise Malahide on our most recent trip, in May 2017, we have had dinner here on a previous trip. The food was very well-presented and there was plenty of it!

Breakfast is served from an à la carte menu. The manager told us that it consists of fresh juices, fruit salads, toast with eggs cooked to order and pancakes.

Lunch and dinner are both served from the same extensive menu. There's plenty of choice, including a good selection of local and fish dishes. On our previous visit, we enjoyed a delicious grilled tilapia (from Lake Kivu) served with vegetables and chips.

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included

Drinks included: Bottled water is provided in the room and you can purchase extra from the bar as the tap water is not drinkable. Soft and alcoholic drinks are an extra cost.

Further dining info: Room service is possible, at no extra charge, but there are no phones in the room so you'll need to request this in advance from reception.


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 for a few hours. Please note that she will not have a professional qualification in childcare.

Equipment: Currently there are no cots or highchairs, but they hope to purchase a few such items in the future.

Notes: There is no lifeguard on duty, and only a small fence between the main area and the lake. Children should be supervised at all times.


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Power supply notes: There is a back-up generator.

Communications: WiFi is available at no extra charge in the main areas of the guesthouse. There is cellphone reception throughout and a phone at reception for guests to use.

TV & radio: There are no TVs at the guesthouse.

Water supply: Mains

Water supply notes: There are flush toilets and hot and cold plumbed showers in the rooms.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: Yes

Medical care: There is a first-aid kit on site, and a medical centre very close by. The owner knows a local doctor who can be contacted in case of emergency. The nearest medical centre in Gisenyi is approximately 10km away.

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 in their use.


Disabled access: On Request

Laundry facilities: A full laundry service is available at an extra charge

Accepted payment on location: Paradise Malahide accepts Visa and Mastercard payments, though not American Express. Cash payments may be made in Rwandan francs, US dollars, euros and British pounds.

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