National Parks | Rwanda

Lake Kivu in Rwanda

Lake Kivu is one of the fascinating African Great Lakes, known for its impressive depth as the 18th deepest freshwater lake in the world. It is a home to a diverse range of colorful fish species and aquatic animals that thrive in its sparkling waters.

Boat trips
Coffee plantation tours
Boat trips
Coffee plantation tours

Everything you need to know:

Lake Kivu in Rwanda is an impressive freshwater lake that is the 18th deepest body of water in the world, covering 2,700 km². It is also home to Idjwi, the 10th largest island on a lake globally. This lake hosts a unique variety of aquatic life, such as cichlids, freshwater crabs, and catfish, among others. Tourists in Rwanda can explore the undiscovered parts of the country by taking boat rides on this lake. Lake Kivu is an excellent alternative to Africa’s famous savannah and mountains, and should not be missed.

Where is the lake located?

Lake Kivu is a freshwater lake situated in western Rwanda, which extends to the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is found in the Albertine Rift and occupies approximately 2.0448° S, 29.1856° E. The Lake is approximately 89 kilometers long and 48 kilometers wide at its biggest sections. Being located within the Virunga National Park, it provides essential sustenance to various settlements established on its shoreline, such as Gisenyi, Kibuye, and Cyangugu.

What can you expect of the terrain?

Lake Kivu is a remarkable freshwater lake that envelops the island of Idjwi. Due to the lake’s positioning over a rift valley that is slowly pulling apart, volcanic activity is prevalent in the area. 

The towns inhabiting the lake’s shores heavily depend on Lake Kivu for fishing and crop irrigation. The majority of land surrounding the shoreline has been utilized for farming. Despite this, there exist pristine, hilly terrains and forested regions in some sections, bordered by the magnificent Rwandan and Congolese mountain ranges.

About the lake

Top experiences to enjoy at Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu offers a unique African experience away from the usual tourist hotspots. Take a traditional wooden fishing boat across the lake, where you can explore small villages and rugged woodlands along the way. 

For the more adventurous visitors, there are many water sports to try such as sailing, kayaking, wind surfing and motor boating with the stunning backdrop of jagged mountains and farmers tending their plots. Swimming in the clean waters of Lake Kivu is also a possibility as there are no known crocodiles, hippos or diseases. 

Take a short boat ride to Nyamirundi Island to visit the local coffee farms. This is where Starbucks sources its beans from and you can tour the plantations to see how coffee beans are produced.

When to visit

Lake Kivu in Rwanda is a wonderful tourist attraction that can be enjoyed all year round. Rwanda’s consistent climate throughout the year and peaceful rainy period make it an ideal destination. 

If unwinding before an arduous hike to search for gorillas is your main reason for visiting the lake, it would be best to visit during the months of June to September, when the mountain trails are at their driest. As one of Africa’s Great Lakes, Lake Kivu is an attraction that offers something unique and exciting every day, no matter your time of visit.

Start planning your safari

Our experts are here to help.