Lake Kivu Rwanda – Rwanda’s Biggest Lake

Lake Kivu is one of Africa’s most popular Freshwater Lakes covering a total surface area of 2700 square kilometers across the vast floor of the Albertine Rift Valley on the Rwanda-Democratic Republic of Congo Border.

The beautiful Lake is so far Rwanda’s largest Lake and 6th largest in the Continent at about 89 kilometers long and 48 kilometers wide with a maximum depth of 480 meters although the average depth is about 240 meters.

Lake Kivu is surrounded by steep terraced hills and drains into the Ruzizi River that flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika.

This natural wonder is a treasure in Rwanda tour, known for a number of adventure activities such as kayaking, canoeing, boat cruise, and many other adrenaline activities. Another interesting thing about Lake Kivu is that the World’s 10th largest island to be on a Lake (known as Idjwi) is actually found in Lake Kivu.

Lake Kivu Rwanda tours and safaris

Lake Kivu Rwanda is surrounded by beautiful touristic Towns of Karongi known for lush hillsides covered in pines and eucalyptus offering a backdrop to the Lake, Cyangugu at the southern end of the Lake and a gateway into Nyungwe Forest National Park as well as Rubavu within the northern boundary of the Lake and only 60 minutes’ drive to Volcanoes National Park. These Towns offer ideal places to relax.

Things to do and see within/around Lake Kivu

Nature walks/hiking

Kivu is a stunning place to simply take a nature walk. The rolling hills and lush vegetation surrounding the Lake are worth exploring during a safari.

Mountain biking/cycling

The stunning 10-stage Congo-Nile Trail runs through the eastern shores of Lake Kivu with about 227 kilometers of foot and biking tracks.

Boat rides

Refreshing boat rides can be arranged from Rubavu or Kibuye to allow tourists to explore the beauty and tranquility of the Lake. Similarly, tourists can opt for Kayaking or canoe rides on the beautiful Lake Kivu.

Birding (Bird Watching Safaris)

There are currently more than 60 species of birds on Kivu lake, hence making it a top birding site for tourists interested in aquatic bird species.

The commonest bird species here are common waxbill, Cardinal woodpecker, common kestrel, Bronzed sunbirds, African pied wagtail, spotted yellow-throated greenbul, Tropical Boubou, Sacred Ibis, Black-Headed Herons, Red-chested Sunbirds, Malachite kingfishers, Crown-crested crane, pelicans, hornbills, African fish eagles, grey-crowned cranes, and many others.

The best birding spots of Lake Kivu are the Gisenyi area, Kibuye area and the different islands of the Lake.

Island hopping

You can get on a boat and cruise through Lake Kivu to the different Islands to explore their different attractions including birds.


Lake Kivu is Bilharzia and crocodile free making it perfect for tourists who wish to sunbathe and swim their stress away.

Other tourist activities in Lake Kivu Rwanda and relaxation and chilling by the beachside, water sports (windsurfing and water skiing), coffee tours and visit the Imbabazi Orphanage among others.

Where to stay

Lake Kivu Rwanda boasts of a wide range of budget, midrange, and luxury accommodation facilities that make tourists’ visits complete and these include Palm Beach Resort Kivu, Emeraude Kivu Resort Hotel, Lake Kivu Serena Hotel, Inzozi Beach Hotel, Gorillas Lake Kivu Hotel, Hillview Hotel, Paradis Malahide, Cormoran Lodge, Asante Hotel, Hakuna Matata Lodge, Nirvana Height Hotel and Spa, Paradise Kivu Resort and many others.

How to get to Lake Kivu Rwanda

This beautiful Lake can be accessed through air, road and water transport. For air transport, the national carrier (Rwandair) operates daily flights between Kigali International Airport and Kamembe airport adjacent to Ruzizi.

For road transport, private and public transport means can be used whereby with the latter, you just have to make your way to Nyabugogo Bus Park.

The main ports on the Lake are easily accessed by road transport with Ruzizi being only 5 hours’ drive south of Kigali through Nyungwe National Park and Huye. Karongi is only 2 hours’ drive west of the City and Rubavu is approximately 3 hours northwest of the City through Musanze the gateway into Volcanoes National Park, known for gorilla trekking safaris.

For water transport, boat trips on Lake Kivu can be arranged at all the ports.

Popular Rwanda Safaris to Lake Kivu