Lake Kivu occupies a total area of 2730 square kilometres lying at an elevation of 1463m above sea level with a volume of 560km3. It is such an ecstasy driving between the towns mostly when you opt to use the slower route between Volcanoes National park and Nyungwe Forest National park. The road curves gently back and forth as it weaves through mountains and hills along the lake from Gisenyi all the way to Cyangugu with its focal point being Kibuye town. All the corners spell out gorgeous views with eucalyptus trees lining the road intercepted with views of hills that seem to be terraced with banana trees. Cheerful children on the roads screaming in excitement at the sight foreigners’ visit their land adds color to the whole experience as you gloriously wave back. Lake Kivu’s main 3 towns are about 3-4 apart from each other and it is just an injustice leaving without reaching each one of them.
This town is about 100km south of Gisenyi town and is arguably the prettiest town of them all. It’s a luxuriant, tropical spot surrounded by hills furnished in pine and eucalyptus trees. It is the one town you enjoy sights of thousands of yellow-billed kites flying over Lake Kivu on their annual migration especially in August, so you may need to plan for your trip accordingly. You can enjoy boat trips on Lake Kivu from this town to nearby islands for example Napoleon island which has a colony of fruit bats and Amahoro island known for having only one bar; the reason it is at times called ‘One bar island’. It is also possible to pass by Kibuye’s genocide memorial church located in a quiet ambience on a hill with brightly coloured stained glass windows.
This is a large town on the northern edge of Lake Kivu spread over several hills. Gisenyi was once a colonial beach resort and its waterfront is lined with fading old colonial masions although some decent hotels including some of international standard have been put up. The public beach on Gisenyi’s lakeshore is pleasing and can get quite busy sometimes especially on the weekends. While in Gisenyi you could visit Imbabazi Orphanage that was founded by a remarkable lady Rosamund Halsey Carr at the age of 82 when she returned to Rwanda after the genocide. She transformed her ransacked her house to take care of children who had lost their parents in the tragedy and had no place to call home. Her house that looks mre of an English country cottage has had over 400 orphans call this home. This is a place you can pass by and even offer your contribution to this commendable job.
This is a border town at the southern end of Lake Kivu whose fading facades clearly pronounce its past as a once important trading gateway. This is the perfect town to base if you wish to combine your stay at Lake Kivu with Nyungwe national forest national park visit since its only 45 minutes away.
Lake Kivu is the perfect place for swimming given its warm temperature and since it doesn’t have any crocodiles in its waters to put your life at risk. People also practice a number of water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, and water skiing.
Tourists can also learn the techniques of traditional fishermen by participating in the organized boat tours on the Lake. Because of the proximity of the Congo-Nile Trail, hiking and cycling are also preferred. You can also combine it with a visit to Volcanoes National Park which is one of the best places for gorilla tracking, since more than half of the World’s last mountain gorillas live on the precinct as well as Nyungwe Forest National Park a popular spot for chimpanzee tracking.
So if you were still looking for options of where to go, we got you covered. Bon voyage!