Lake Kivu

Part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, Lake Kivu in the west of Rwanda, is surrounded by magnificent mountains and has deep emerald green waters covering a surface area of 2,700 km2. It is Rwanda’s largest lake and the sixth-largest in Africa.

Rubavu – previously known as Gisenyi – is a large town on the northern edge of Lake Kivu, an hour’s drive from Volcanoes National Park and the perfect place to relax after gorilla trekking. Once a colonial beach resort of note, Rubavu’s waterfront is lined with fading old mansions, hotels and trendy bars on the lakeshore, ideal for sundowner cocktails.

Karongi – halfway along the lake, is a popular beach resort with hillsides covered in pines and eucalyptus serve as a backdrop to the sparkling lake. At dawn and dusk, the sound of local fisherman singing carries across the water as they paddle in unison.

From Rubavu in the north, the Congo Nile Trail extends 227 kilometres of breathtaking landscapes to Rusizi in the south of Lake Kivu. The trail gently curves back and forth as it weaves through hills and mountains beside the lake, with eucalyptus trees lining the road and every inch of the hills seemingly terraced with bananas.

For adventurous travellers, an exciting way to explore Rwanda is a kayaking tour on Lake Kivu or mountain biking or hiking one of the six off-the-beaten-path stages of the spectacular Congo Nile Trail.

What to Do:

  • Kayaking – Exploring the coastline of Lake Kivu by kayak is a beautiful way to immerse yourself in the scenery, gazing up at the mountainous backdrop from the tranquillity of the water.
  • Cycling – is an excellent destination for off-the-beaten-track cycling, with almost endless trails and roads crisscrossing the territory. Exploring Rwanda’s countryside on a bike is an authentic and rewarding way to interact with the rural population, with a massive dose of natural beauty.

Getting There:

  • It takes 3 hours to reach Lake Kivu from Kigali.

Best Time to Visit:

Lake Kivu is a year-round destination; however, the best time to visit is during the long dry season from June to September and the short dry season from mid-December to mid-February. The weather is ideal for sunbathing, swimming in the lake,  relishing kayaking, and boat excursions throughout these months. Also, the dry season is the best for biking in the lush hills.