Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is one of the many Great Lakes in East Africa that lies along Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Lake Kivu or Lac Kivu as is in French lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. There are about 200 small rivers that flow into Lake Kivu from various catchment areas, as it outflows to Ruzizi River that flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika.

lake kivu
lake kivu

The Lake is at an elevation of 1460 metres above sea level and covers a total area of about 2370 square kilometres with an average depth of 240metres. The shape Lake Tanganyika is rather irregular and has a large island, Idjwi. The recorded maximum distance from one end of Lake Kivu to the other is 103km while it is roughly 48km across. The lake has gasses that can be used to generate electricity. Lake Kivu inhabits a number of aquatic animals including about 31 species of fish that have been recorded to be in the lake.

The Lake is surrounded by majestic mountains and is dotted with resorts, five stars, backpackers and family-friendly hotels for all budget ranges that travellers can stay in while visiting.

Along the shores of Lake Kivu are the three resort towns of Kibuye, Gisenyi and Cyangugu which are roughly 3-4 hours apart from each other. These towns give travellers an opportunity to experience the rural life of the people of Rwanda.

Gisenyi which is on the northern edge of Lake Kivu is less than one hour from Volcanoes National Park that is famous for gorilla trekking to encounter the gentle and yet endangered mountain gorilla that can only be found three countries in the world namely Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gisenyi has great beaches and crystal water which draws the abundant birdlife that includes among others kingfishers and pelicans.

Kibuye which is south of Gisenyi has hills with pine trees and eucalyptus which make the place all the more amazing. Kibuye, in particular, is easily accessible from Kigali city thus making it a popular destination for getaways say over the weekends or even during the week for a day or two that one has free while on a conference or business trip in Rwanda. 

Cyangugu is the least developed of the three resort areas near Lake Kivu. Cyangugu is closer to Nyungwe Forest National Park home of chimpanzee trekking in Rwanda, canopy walks as well as nature walking in about 13 very scenic trails. 

Activities in Lake Kivu

Boat cruise

Boat cruise is the most done activity in L. Kivu. Travellers get to experience the relaxing calm waters of Lake Kivu as they enjoy the views of the vast lake as well as birdlife and the areas around. Sundowners can be arranged in which travellers can get to sip wine or beer as they watch the sun set rewarding travellers with great photogenic scenes. A long boat cruise has travellers having an opportunity to visit and explore different islands like Amahoro Island as well as Napoleon Island from where you can do a number of adventurous activities like cycling.

Bird watching

There are a number of species of birds at the shores of Lake Kivu as well as some aquatic birds that travellers can spot while on a bird-watching spree around Lake Kivu. Some of the birds that travellers are sure to see include the African kingfishers, the African woodpecker, yellow-billed stork, speckled pigeons, chin-spot batis, white-faced whistling duck, among so many others. Bird watching can be done while on a boat safari or walking along at the shores of the lake or even at one’s lodge of stay.


The fresh waters of L. Kivu inhabit about 31 types of fish for example longfin tilapia and redbreast tilapia that travellers can catch while sport fishing. Travellers can release their catch after or choose to take one for meal which they can prepare themselves or have it prepared for them.

Other activities that travellers visiting Lake Kivu can do include swimming in the fresh waters of the Lake that crocodile, hippo and bilharzia free, sunbathing at the shores, biking, or simply walking along the shores of Lake Kivu as you enjoy the sights of the surrounding areas and Islands.

Lake Kivu
Fishing on the Lake

The Lake has a number of accommodation facilities that travellers can stay in for all budget ranges of travellers including Lake Kivu Serena which is a luxury resort set in stunningly beautiful locations on the white sandy shores of the lake. The facilities in the various lodging options vary according to the budget ranges, including the level of service delivery.

The Kivu is a great destination choice that travellers can get to experience either before or after gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park or Volcanoes National Park. Visiting Lake Kivu is also a great way to break the long journey between Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park. Get in touch with a reputable tour operator to help you plan a relaxing safari or getaway to Lake Kivu.

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