Lake Kivu in Rwanda is one of the best lakes guests can enjoy on a Rwanda safari. Lake Kivu is a member of the Great Lakes of Africa. Lake Victoria, the world’s second-largest water lake by area, Lake Tanganyika, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake by volume, and Lake Malawi are just a few of Africa’s great lakes. Kivu is strategically located on the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Rwanda border.
Kivu is located on the western side of the Albertine rift escarpment, which is part of the Great East African rift valley. The Lake is a relatively long lake with a length of approximately 2,700 kilometers and an elevation of 1,460 meters above sea level. The majority of this lake is located on the DR Congo side, with approximately 42% of its waters located on the Rwandan side.
The Lake has an estimated depth of 1,575 feet and 480 meters, making it the world’s 18th deepest lake and Rwanda’s deepest lake. This only makes it a must-see while in the area. Lake Kivu can be combined with a visit to the Volcanoes National Park or the Nyungwe Forest National Park. Kivu is home to Idwiji Island, the world’s tenth largest island, as well as the black sand Tchegera Island of the Virunga National Park. Guests can spend a night at the luxurious Tchegera Tented Camp or on the shores of Lake Kivu. When visiting the area or nearby towns such as Kibuye, Gisenyi, or Cyangugu on the Rwandan side and Kabare, Bukavu, Sake, Kalehe, and Goma on the DR Congo side, there are several resorts and hotels to choose from.
Kivu is a freshwater lake despite the volcanic activity experienced in the area as some have been recorded over 1,000 years ago. The volcanic activity on Lake Kivu is caused by volcanic mountain eruptions from Mount Nyiragongo, which is close to the lake. Lake Kivu had gas beneath it, which was used to generate electricity until it was discovered to be a danger to the communities living around the lake.
The freshwater nature of Kivu has aided the survival of several fish species, with approximately 28 fish species recorded in these waters. In addition, four new fish species have been introduced into Lake Kivu. Some of the fish species that were introduced to Lake Kivu include the cichlids, Leucostictes, redbreast tilapia, the long fin tilapia, the clupeid, and the limnothrisa, an indigenous sardine from the Lake Tanganyika.
A rewarding and tranquil cruise on the lake’s waters, with longer cruises taking you to Amahoro and Munini Islands – the latter also known as Napoleon Island due to its resemblance to Napoleon’s infamous hat. The island is home to a large colony of fruit bats, which you can meet after a short and relatively easy climb. There are also giant African millipedes (called shongololo locally), fish eagles, and a variety of water birds. You might even see the ‘Inzocor,’ or water snake. If you opt for an evening cruise, imagine yourself there, sipping a glass of wine as the sun sets on a serene day and exploring the beautiful Kivu.
This is yet another exciting activity on Lake Kivu’s list of Top Activities. The freshwater lake is home to a variety of fish species, including redbreast tilapia, blue-spotted tilapia, Nile tilapia, longfin tilapia, and Lake Tanganyika sardine. The variety of fish species that can be caught in the lake makes the activity interesting and worthwhile with all the effort expended. The fact that the country allows you to keep one fish to take home as a reward for your participation in the activity is quite motivating for one to participate in it, thus making your Lake Kivu trip interesting.
Rwanda is a stunning destination for keen birders, with over 700 species recorded throughout the ‘land of a thousand hills,’ and Lake Kivu is not to be missed if you want to tick off as many new ‘lifers’ as possible. Bronzed Sunbirds, Common Waxbill, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Bronze Manikin, Speckled Pigeons, African fish eagle, spotted Cardinal Woodpecker, African Pied Wagtail, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Chin-spot Batis, Ashy Flycatcher, White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, and Tropical Boubou, to name a few. Be prepared with your binoculars to see these birds on a good day!
One of the largest islands in Lake Kivu is Nyamirundi Island, which is home to a large coffee plantation. You can learn everything about the coffee-making process here, from harvesting to drying to roasting, and of course, you can sample some exceptionally fresh, organic, and award-winning Rwandan coffee for yourself. You can also visit Napoleon Island, where you will have the opportunity to see numerous bats in trees that greet you with various noises in the trees; the island has a connection to the Rwanda genocide and can also be visited on the Rwanda genocide tour.
Many Tutsi people fled to the island for safety in order to avoid the Hutus, but when the Hutus discovered their secret, they came to the island and burned it down, along with all the people who had sought refuge there. Other islands on the lake include a tranquil island, Peace Island, and Amahoro Island, among others. Some of these are uninhabited islands on the lake, some of which can be pre-booked for overnight camping for those looking to experience the tranquillity of the lake under canvas.
Rwanda has some fantastic mountain hiking trails, with one of the most famous being the ‘Bikepacker’ Congo Nile Trail, which is around 160 miles long and takes you through some of the most stunning scenery and trails you’ll come across in Africa over five days. The mountain biking and hiking trails around Lake Kivu are not as long or as far, but they take you through vibrant local communities and along the lake’s beautiful shores, making them excellent alternative ways to explore the area.
Lake Kivu is a freshwater lake with clean bilharzia-free waters, so after your long walks and the scorching sun, feel free to take a dip in the waters for a relaxing, calm adventure in the water. If you’re not a good swimmer and you’re interested in this activity at Lake Kivu, don’t worry, there are friendly people willing to teach you or help you out while you go swimming. There are various beaches along the lake with lifeguards to ensure your safety.
Gisenyi Orphanage Visit
Rosamond, who lived in the Mugongo area, founded the Imbabazi Orphanage, which is very common to visit while around Lake Kivu. She began a flower garden that supplied flowers to nearby hotels and guest houses. This Gisenyi orphanage was founded in 1994 and primarily serves children. It draws a large number of tourists who come to see Lake Kivu and Rwanda.
There are several establishments around Lake Kivu as this is a tourist town and all ranges can be found. Hotels in the Lake Kivu region accommodate the budget, midrange, and luxury guests, depending on your budget. The budget option is the Paradise Malahide hotel, the midrange option is the Le Palme Beach resort hotel, and the luxury option is the Lake Kivu Serena hotel.
Lake Kivu Serena hotel is set in a quiet suburb on the lakeshore to the east of Gisenyi in the Lake Kivu area of western Rwanda. Lake Kivu Serena is a large beach hotel, with guest accommodations in 66 rooms and all the usual facilities.
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White Water Rafting