Lake Kivu – Lake Kivu Beach Tour – Lake Kivu Holidays
Lake Kivu, located in the Albertine Rift region of East Africa, is a famously clear and beautiful crater lake along the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lake is safe for swimming and boating, as it does not contain bilharzia (also known as schistosomiasis), crocodiles, or hippos. One can pass easily from village to village along the shores of the lake and witness the fishing lifestyle of the locals. A visit to the lake will serve as a well-deserved place to rest and relax near the end of your Rwanda holidays or tour in Congo with Adventure in the wild safaris.
The lake sits at the high altitude of 1460 m (4790 ft) above sea level, and at 2700 square meters is the 6th largest lake in Africa. It is split almost evenly between the DRC (58%) and Rwanda (42%). Volcanic activity in the region is generated by the plates of the rift itself, which are slowly moving apart. Although the lake is largely devoid of dangerous marine life, it is infamous for another sleeping beast below the surface: tons of methane gas produced by indigenous bacteria and volcanic activity are trapped in the water, 200m below the surface. The gas poses no threat to swimmers and marine life near the surface of the lake. However, scientists are wary of a phenomenon called lake overturn, which describes the escape of the trapped gases into the air above the lake. Scientists do not know what might trigger overturn in Lake Kivu, but suspect that the eruption of nearby volcanoes in the Virungas may be a trigger. For the present, the lake is frequented by tourists and surrounded by a population of roughly 2 million people in the small, lively towns in both Congo and Rwanda.
The inhabitants of the lake area generally support themselves through fishing and subsistence agriculture, although they also farm tea, coffee, and cattle, and harvest honey. If you wish, it is possible to visit coffee processing plants in Cyimbili and Kinunu to see and taste fresh coffee from bean to cup. People also brew beer along the shore and on the islands. Industrial extraction of the lake’s methane and hydroelectric production provide jobs for chemical engineers, mechanics, and other workers. Finally, the tourism industry of hotels, markets, shops, and restaurants provides further income for the communities.
The lake sits in a basin surrounded by gorgeous round hills, each of which offers a panoramic view of the lake itself, its islands, and the mountains. The lakeshore is in some places sandy, others rocky, but in all places one can marvel at the clarity of the lake floor and watch the many fish that swim near the surface. Enjoy a picnic near the shoreline under lazily waving palm trees, or take a dive off a pier into the clear, cool water. Enjoy sea kayaking near Kibuye, and paddle your boat through the quiet waters to Bat Island, inhabited by 5 million fruit bats, or Peace Island, a quiet space for thought and relaxation. Nkomo and Bugarama Islands are home to friendly locals who love to talk with visitors to the lake and show off their homes, families, and culture. You can also find pelicans, kingfishers, and cormorants in the nearby wetlands. At any restaurant, you can enjoy local delicacies like sambaza, a small, fried fish dressed with lime and eaten whole, and akabenzi, a pork dish cooked together with bananas.
On the Rwandan side of the lake, one can stay in any of three lakeside towns. Cyangugu, the most remote from Kigali, is home to views of great beauty and a majestic historic mosque. You can enjoy views of and easy access to Bat Island and Peace Island from the quiet lake resorts of Kibuye, or party with the locals near the wide sand beaches of lively Gisenyi. The lake is renowned as an excellent place to rest for families, honeymooners, or friends before or after your Rwanda gorilla tour to Volcanoes National Park.