As one of Africa’s famed Great Lakes, Lake Kivu is the largest body of water found in Rwanda. Sitting within steep terraced hills, the lake itself is visually stunning. Kivu, derived from the Bantu word meaning lake, covers 2700km² and at points is close to 500m deep!
The lake has one other secret too. Due to the fact that it sits on the tectonic plates of the East African greater rift, with volcanic activity underneath, it is filled with both carbon dioxide as well as methane. This is due to the waters of Kivu interacting with the magma beneath the tectonic plates. Currently, because 55 billion cubic metres of methane can be found deep in the lake (at around 300m), the Rwandan government will soon begin to extract the gas.
Visitors to Lake Kivu normally stay at one of the tourist towns surrounding it. These are Cyangugu, Kibuye, and Gisenyi although there are many smaller towns to be discovered by the intrepid explorer. The lake and surrounding hills are filled with a variety of activities. Many choose to take a boat trip to visit Idjwi, the tenth largest inland island on Earth, found in the waters of Kivu itself.
Although the lake is not abundant with fish as many others are in the region, avid fisherman can still catch up to 28 species including the Nile Tilapia, especially from the town of Gisenyi, the hub of water sports activity on the lake.
Kibuye, situated in the south, boasts the beautiful, warm waters found at Nayakabuye while the nearby Rugege forest is filled with a range of wildlife, hikes, and trails. Of course, as with most of the bodies of water in Africa, bird watching is a favoured activity. Expect to see malachite kingfishers, crowned cranes and pelicans to name a few. Kivu has much to offer and is an excellent place to spend some time while in Rwanda.