The beauty of the Lake adventure is the drive between the towns, the picturesque is very rewarding. The road gently curves and winds back and forth through the beautiful hills and mountains from Gisenyi all the way to Cyangugu via Kibuye. Lake Kivu is located on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic Congo and is 89 kilometers in length and 48 kilometers in width, covering a surface area of 2,700 sq kms. Lake Kivu is among the main lakes in Africa within the Albertine western Rift, and part of the pouring into River Ruzizi and flowing southward to Lake Tanganyika.
The road to Lake Kivu is lined by Eucalyptus trees, while every inch of the hills seems to be terraced with bananas. Lake Kivu’s three main towns are roughly 3-4 hours apart from each other.
Gisenyi currently known as Rubavu is a large town spread over several hills on the northern edge of Lake Kivu. Gisenyi’s waterfront is lined with fading old mansions and some international hotels ideal for a sundowner for honeymooners
You can opt to visit the Imbabazi Orphanage founded by American Rosamund Halsey Carr. Sitting among colourful gardens, the house looks like an English country cottage, complete with an aging Labrador. Halsey Carr she transformed her ransacked house into an orphanage for survivors and over 400 orphans after the aftermath of the genocide.
Kibuye also known as Karongi is the prettiest of Lake Kivu’s towns and is about 100km south of Gisenyi. Covered in eucalyptus and pine, the verdant, tropical spot is surrounded by hills with beautiful hotels overlooking the lake.
While in Kibuye, you can go on safari boat trips on Lake Kivu to nearby islands: Napoleon Island commonly known for fruit bats and Amahoro Island, visit Kibuye’s genocide memorial church, with brightly coloured stained-glass windows on a hill just above Lake Kivu.
Cyangugu also known as Rusisi is gracefully located at the southern end of Lake Kivu. It makes for a convenient base if you want to combine a stay on Lake Kivu with Nyungwe Forest National Park, which is only 45 minutes away.
Activities/ Attractions at Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu has a beautiful shoreline with white sand making it an ideal place for relaxing between the hectic activities on a safari.
There are beautiful beaches along the lakeshores with fine sand where one can relax in the mild sun after having a great swim in the lake. The lake Kivu is a freshwater lake that is crocodile free, hippo free and bilharzia free.
Enjoying a boat safari 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.
Hiking along the shores
Hike along the beaches of lake Kivu with great views of the freshwater body, a walk at the shores of lake with cool breezes from the waves will give you a remarkable and unforgettable experience.
Visit to Nyamirundi Island
The island provides beautiful views of the terraced gently sloping islands covered with coffee and banana plantations. This island is near Gisenyi and a lot of coffee growing and processing is done around the area. 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.
Visit to the 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. The orphanage was reconstructed and well built and today it has beautiful gardens, has a restaurant that prepares classic and standard food and also provides great views of the Virunga volcanoes in the background.
The waters of lake Kivu have waves that support water sports activities like windsurfing, kayaking, speed boat rides and sport fishing. The wind surfing and kayaking equipment can be hired from hotels in Gisenyi.
Lake Kivu is the best way to relax while on a gorilla safari or on adventure in Rwanda rewarding with a relaxing experience in the land of a thousand hills. Lake Kivu can be an amazing stopover for travelers on their honeymoon.
Where to stay at Lake Kivu
Below are some of the places to stay at, around the area of Lake Kivu while on your Rwanda Safari; Cormoran Lodge, Moriah Hill Resort, Lake Kivu Serena, Kivu Lodge, Paradise Malahide and many more.
How to get to Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu are most easily reached by road. Rusizi is about 220km/5 hours southwest of Kigali via Huye and Nyungwe National Park, whilst Karongi is 135km/2 hours west of Kigali and Rubavu is 155km/3 hours northwest via Musanze (the gateway town for gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park).
Best time of the year to visit Lake Kivu
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Lake Kivu in Pictures
Our Recommended African Safari Ideas
Our itinerary ideas will give you a starting point for what your trip could entail. Treat them just as inspiration, as each trip is created uniquely for you and there are many more options available.