10 Things To Do When Visiting Lake Kivu In Rwanda

About four and half hours drive from Kigali- Rwanda’s Capital lies one of the most magnificent lakes in Africa. Covering Rwanda’s western border to Congo and Congo’s Eastern border to Rwanda, Lake Kivu is one of the largest water bodies in the western branch of the great East African Rift Valley – making it the 7th largest lake in the whole of Africa.

Lake Kivu is of great importance to Rwanda not only because of her beautiful emerald waters that attract tourists throughout the year but also economically through the methane extracted from the depth of the lake and used to generate power used in local industries and factories.

Surrounded by serene hills, the road trip itself is thrilling as you weave through the hills in suspense with glimpses of the lake in the near distance. The scene is more than captivating with glistering and sparkling sun-kissed waters against a backdrop of lush green hills and trees.

Lake Kivu is surrounded by heavily populated fishing villages and towns, most colorful being Rubavu (formerly known as Gisenyi) that is advantageously located at the Northern edge of the lake- perfect spot to spend an evening and watch the golden reflection on the calm waters in the evening as the sunsets.

The town is lined with quite a number of hotels like Lake Kivu Serena hotel, Cormoran Lodge, Kivu Paradise Resort among others. Being closest to Volcanoes National Park makes this town an arguably favorite hotspot for most tourists in the area. Scattered around the town are trendy bars for those who enjoy a bit of nightlife.

Lake Kivu’s leafy boundaries and sandy shoreline are a magnet for long weekend getaways and holidays in the rather landlocked country. It’s a little splash of paradise in an already beautiful country and a worthy must-add to your itinerary to complement your gorilla trekking trip at Volcanoes National Park.

Here are a few things you can do when visiting Lake Kivu;

1. Sportfishing (Recreational Fishing)

Sportfishing is a recreational and competitive way of fishing where the fish caught is immediately returned to the waters (also known as catch and release).

This freshwater lake is home to quite an interestingly unique and versatile number of fish species like Blue-spotted tilapia, Nile tilapia, Lake Tanganyika Sardine, and Redbreast tilapia among others.

This makes the sportfishing games a little more interesting in the probability of what species to catch. For those who enjoy a little competitive exercise, this will be an interesting and fun activity to do.

2. Boat Cruises

Lake Kivu is popularly known for being hippo and crocodile-free. This is attributed to the toxic gasses in her crust; however, this creates a perfect environment for taking boat cruises on the large water body.

You have a chance to customize your boat ride for example visiting the different islands on the lake (Napoleon Island and her famous fruit bats, Amahoro Island also known as One Bar Island), taking a romantic evening ride whilst watching the sunset, or even sharing a meal floating on the water and surrounded by countless scenic features.

3. Water Sports

This is very popular among the tourists, with fresh waters free of deadly animals Lake Kivu is perfect for water sports like windsurfing, paddling to the islands and back, water skiing, and kayaking.

4. Hiking & Biking

Lake Kivu is surrounded by lush green hills and mountains in the near distance. For a fulfilling walk and view of the lake and its beaches, a hike is the perfect morning sunny day activity.

With every turn, you get a better view of the sparkling waters and kaleidoscope of colours. This is an opportunity to know a little bit more about the history and way of living of the locals.

The hills are perfect for biking and discovering new trails, interacting with the people, and of course, taking pictures from every altitude that gives a more aerial view of the lake.

5. Coffee Tour

This is another fun yet educative activity you can do while visiting Lake Kivu. Rwanda is a major coffee producer and exporter; this means the whole country is largely spotted with coffee plantations and this is no different from the areas surrounding Lake Kivu.

You will get to know how to pick the coffee, wash, dry, roast, and grind the coffee as well as enjoy a fresh cup of coffee that you just made. Rwanda beans are ranked the second-best in the world according to home grounds.

To contribute to Rwanda’s economic development, you can purchase a bag or two to bring back home with you.

6. Swimming

After that early morning hike or biking, taking a dip in the cool fresh waters is refreshing. Being free of crocodiles and hippos, the shores of the lake are great for taking a relaxing swim on a sunny chillaxing day.

With many lifeguards to provide any assistance, you can take a swim in designated areas.

7. Birding

There are quite many water birds. This is an added delight for bird lovers to see unique species like the African woodpecker, Sacred ibis, Yellow-throated Greenbul, Knobs billed duck, and Ashy Flycatcher among others.

You get to see all these and more on your boat cruise and island hopping tours.

8. Island Hopping

There is so much to see on the islands and discover every unique aspect of each.

You can check out Nyiramirundi island: – this is mostly visited for coffee tours as it houses a huge coffee plantation, get a chance to learn the process of making coffee and if possible, enjoy a fresh cup before you head back.

You can also visit Napoleon Island: – she derived her name from the close resemblance of the island’s structure to Napoleon’s hat. The island is home to bats, eagles, lots of water buds, African millipedes, and water snakes.

Amahoro Island: – aka Peace Island is another place that you should check out. This is a great spot for hiding away and enjoying the peace and quiet. You can camp or stay at one of the hotels on the island. There are other islands to check out on your boat cruise

9. Imbabazi Orphanage

The Rwanda Genocide in 1994 left quite many children orphans. Rosamond Carr, a foreigner but a long resident of the area witnessed first-hand the suffering that followed this brutal period and the heart-breaking effects on the children that were left behind.

She started the Imbabazi Orphanage to provide shelter and help to these children. With a lot of success in helping raise children and contribute to their development, Imbabazi is of great importance to the people in this area and a huge impact on the community.

You can be a part of this change by checking it out and possibly making a small donation to this drive.

10. Chilling On The Beach

Why not? Why go to the shores of the lake and not use the opportunity to relax and unwind?

There are so many beach hotels and hang-out spots that allow you very generous views of the lake, sunbathing, reading a book, and sipping your favourite drink to relax. Not every day is for activity, sometimes you want to sit back and just feel the sun and soft breeze on your face.

In the evening, the most orgasmic views as the sun sets over the lake will be a perfect way to end your day, catch up with your people, kick back, and get rested.


While Kivu is not as popular as Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park which has mountain gorillas, it is a shining gem that more and more people enjoy visiting while in Rwanda. It is an especially easy getaway for the weekend and a worthy end to the ever-exciting gorilla trek in the volcanoes.

As you think about Rwanda, consider a day or two, maybe even more to relax and enjoy Lake Kivu’s beauty and its people

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