Lake Kivu Rwanda; Amazing Facts, Map, Hotels and Activities.

Uncover the tranquil splendor of Rwanda’s Lake Kivu, a hidden gem eagerly awaiting discovery. 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.

Lake Kivu

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. 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 Kivu Lake 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 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.

lake kivu from Kigali

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 at Lake Kivu

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 Kivu Lake.

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.


Kivu Lake 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 in and around Lake Kivu?

Lake Kivu Rwanda boasts of a wide range of budget, midrange, and luxury accommodation options 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.

Lake Kivu Serena Hotel

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.

Lake Kivu from Kigali;

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 with the help of Afrik-Trek Holidays Rwanda.

Watch What BBC has to say about the “killer lake”, Kivu!

Why is Lake Kivu described as Killer lake?

Lake Kivu is sometimes referred to as a “Killer Lake” due to its unique geological characteristics that give rise to the potential for a catastrophic event called a limnic eruption.

The lake is one of three known lakes in the world that contains large amounts of dissolved carbon dioxide and methane gas at depth. These gases are produced by volcanic activity in the region and accumulate in the lake over time.

If the layers of water in the lake become disturbed, such as during a volcanic eruption or earthquake, the gases can rapidly rise to the surface, causing a limnic eruption.

Popular Rwanda Safaris to Lake Kivu

10 Days Gorilla Trekking Rwanda

Your 10 Days Gorilla Trekking Rwanda Safari takes you to Volcanoes National Park-a home to a section of mountain gorillas, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Akagera National Park, Rwanda genocide sites and the scenic Lake Kivu. It is a special package designed for you to take part in gorilla trekking, chimpanzee tracking… Read More

7 Days Rwanda Congo Gorilla Safari

7 days Rwanda Congo gorilla safari gives you a chance to explore Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. This 7 days Rwanda DRC gorilla safari introduces you to tracking mountain gorillas in Volcanoes national park and Kahuzi Biega national park in DR Congo and chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe national park… Read More

7 Days Rwanda Primates Safari

7 days Rwanda Primates safari introduces you to the “land of thousand hills”. Rwanda is a best place for an experienced African safari with chances to view mountain Gorillas and chimpanzees in volcanoes national park where you will encounter in gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking activities including… Read More