Lake Kivu, like Lakes Victoria, Edward and Albert in neighbouring Uganda, is one of the African Great Lakes and the largest body of water in Rwanda. Water from Lake Kivu flows southwards, eventually supplying the mighty Congo river.
Situated in the west of Rwanda, the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo passes through the lake and just over half of the lake is actually on the Congolese side. The surface of the lake is at an altitude of 1,460 metres. Volcanic activity in the rift valley area produces CO2 under the lake which could, in theory, erupt around every 100 years.
Coffee plantations on the islands and shores around Lake Kivu benefit from the microclimate created by the nearby volcanoes and the lake itself. The coffee they produce is full-bodied and fruity and many farmers grow organically, selling through a well-organised co-operative which attracts FairTrade branding. Coffee tours are available where you can be involved in picking, washing and roasting the beans, before enjoying a tasting session, of course.
You can enjoy the beaches at Rubavu (Gisenyi); take a “sea” kayak out onto the lake and experience the peace and tranquillity of uninhabited, woodland covered islands; hire a bike or relax and look west as the sun sets.
Size and accessibility:
Lake Kivu covers an area of approximately 2,700 km2. Its 465 metres deep in places, with an average depth of 220 metres overall.
Gisenyi, at the northern end of the lake is approximately an hour and a half from Volcanoes National Park in the north, while Cyangugu, at the southern end, is about an hour’s drive from Nyungwe National Park.
Kigali international airport has regular flights to and from many European and other cities and RwandAir offers direct flights to and from Entebbe in Uganda, daily.