Unwind on Kivu Lake shores

The Fresh breeze on the Kivu Lake shores washes over you as you enjoy the sound of the waves crashing onto the lake shores. Lake Kivu safari holiday offers you the chance to unwind an relax on the lake shores after the long activity of Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park or Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Lake Kivu is located in the western part of Rwanda and is a physical border separating Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and is one of the African Great Lakes with three main parts which are Gisenyi (North) Kibuye (Central) and Cyangugu (South).

The Northern shore of lake, on which Goma and Gisenyi lie, is a flat plain featuring lava formations from the eruptions of nearby Nyiragongo Volcanoes. The lake is positioned lying with in the Albertine rift which is the western branch of the Great East African Rift valley.

Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake, and the sixth largest lake in Africa and the 18th world’s deepest lake making it an ideal attraction. At an elevation of 1,460 m above sea level,it stretches over a geographical coverage of 2,700 sq. km and a maximum depth of 1,575 ft about 480m which makes a destination worth encountering.

The central side of Lake Kivu is Kibuye City where the lake has many different branches and many islands where you can enjoy boat rides to different islands inside the lake Kivu with spectacular birding spots on Idjwi and Nyamunini island with around 50.000 individuals of bat and more than 100 species of birds including Double-toothed Barbet, Grey backed Camaroptera, Brown-throated Wattle-eye and among others.

With Every corner you negotiate there are glorious views of the mountains alongside the eucalyptus trees that line the road. This makes driving between the towns an amazing experience as you watch the wind like a long snake through hills and mountains beside the lake from Gisenyi to Kibuye to Cyangugu.
Lake Kivu transverses three main towns and each roughly 3-4 hours away from the other each of them different from eachother.


Also known as Rubavu, Gisenyi is a large town spread over several hills on the northern edge of Lake Kivu. Once a colonial beach resort, Gisenyi’s waterfront is lined with fading old mansions with pretty lakeside ideal for a sundowner cocktail. There is a pleasant public beach on Gisenyi’s lakeshore but it can which quite busy over the weekends.


Also known as Karongi, Kibuye is the loveliest of all the towns that surround the lake with a touch of a beach as you will enjoy incredible scenes of the richness of Rwanda’s mother nature and various activities of the inhabitants of the area that would take you into the livelihood of the locals of Rwanda.

Kibuye is 100km south of Gisenyi and is surrounded by hills covered in eucalyptus and pine with most of its hotels set in beautiful locations overlooking the lake and facing the sunset. While here you can enjoy boat trips on Lake Kivu to nearby islands like Napoleon Island and Amahoro lsland as well as visit the Genocide memorial church in Kibuye located on a hill above Lake Kivu to reflect on the tragic events in 1994.


Also known as Rusizi, it is located at the southernmost end of the lake with a few faded colonial buildings around the border crossing into Congo. While staying here you can almost cross into Congo in a few hours. Changugu is a very convenient starting point for Nyungwe Forest National Park, which is only 45 minutes away.

Attractions at Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is a fantastic tourist attraction where you can relax and unwind after tracking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park and tracking chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park. On your Rwanda Safari holiday,One should not miss out on visiting the beautiful Lake Kivu on their visit into the country as it is a relaxing destination to top your adventure in Rwanda rewarding with a relaxing experience in the land of a thousand hills with the attractiveness blue clear waters.

Some of the activities that can be enjoyed in Lake Kivu Include;

Swimming in Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is an amazing spot to go for swim while in Rwanda, as it is a fresh water body free from crocodiles, hippos, and bilharzia. The water in lake Kivu has a cool temperature and all those who would want to cool down especially on a hot day are free to jump in the lake and relax. The lake also consists of beautiful beaches along the lakeshores with fine sand where one can relax in the mild sun after having a great swim in the lake with the best swimming points in the major towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu.

Hiking and biking along the lake shores

While in Rwanda, one can embark on exciting adventures of biking on the beaches of lake Kivu, hiking on the lake shores can be enjoyed by tourists after a safari. Considering the great views of the fresh water body, a walk at the shores of lake with cool breezes from the waves will give a remarkable and unforgettable experience for honeymooners.

Boat Cruises on Lake Kivu

Boat trips on Lake Kivu can be enjoyed in both local dugout canoes or engine boats. Cruising on this fresh water body enables one to discover more of the land of a thousand hills. Excursion boat rides can be made within a few meters of the lake even while having dinner while other longer trips can be made to the major islands in the lake especially the Napoleon and Amahoro island.

Nyamirundi Island

A visit to the island enables one to learn about the whole coffee growing process and get a chance to taste the locally processed and made coffee. There are also other crops grown on the island like bananas and other major food crops. The island provides beautiful views of the terraced gently sloping islands covered with coffee and banana plantations.

Imbabazi orphanage

The orphanage was set up by the late Rosamond Carr to take care of the children who were left orphans by the terrible Rwandese genocide in 1994.The orphanage was reconstructed with beautiful gardens and great views of the Virunga volcanoes in the background.

Water sports

The waters of lake Kivu have waves that support water sports activities like windsurfing, kayaking, speed boat rides and sport fishing. Wind surfing and kayaking equipment can be hired from around Gisenyi.

Coffee tours

Rwanda has many coffee plantations and these can be enjoyed by the tourists one coffee tours by taking a boat cruise on the lake to Nyamirundi Island and learn the process of coffee making.


Birders will enjoy the lake as they will view different species of birds as the area has an outstanding birdlife comprising of malachite kingfishers, crowned cranes and fleets of pelicans.

Accommodation at Lake Kivu

  • Lake Kivu Serena: Is an upmarket establishment Set on the shores of Lake Kivu lieing on the outskirts of Gisenyi, on the western edge of Rwanda. It’s a large, international-style hotel with a range of facilities and activities and fronted by a long beach.
  • Cormoran Lodge: Set on a steep hill, leading down to the shore of Rwanda’s Lake Kivu, the rustic yet stylish Cormoran Lodge in Kibuye has a small number of wooden cabins, each affording beautiful views over the lake.
  • Lake Kivu Hotel: This establishment offers views of the lake across the gardens and is set in an enviable location on its own private peninsula that juts out into Lake Kivu.
  • Paradise Malahide: A guesthouse which is located on the shores of Lake Kivu, with beautiful views across to some islands in the lake. It is situated in the small Rwandan village of Rubona, about 7km south of the centre of Gisenyi.

Climate and when to visit Lake Kivu

The dry seasons are from June until August and from mid-December through to mid-February with some showers in the latter part of the season. Traveling in the dry months is great for enjoying sunbathing or swimming in the lake. Birders can go exploring to catch sight of many of the 60 avian species that abound here.

Quick Facts

Located: Eastern Rwanda, along the Tanzanian border.
Best Time to Go:
Jan to February and June to September
High Season:
June to September (Peak time for Rwanda)
Size:  2,700 sq. km and a maximum depth of 1,575 ft about 480m
Elevation: 1,460 m above sea level
Distance: 134km & 3 hours drive from Kigali


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