Lake Kivu is one of the smallest, deepest of the African Great Lakes and sits at the highest altitude of any lake in Africa. The lake is a source of fish and methane gas for electricity which benefit Rwanda. The landscape and scenery in this part of Rwanda is truly amazing and opting for the scenic drive between Nyungwe Forest National Park and Volcanoes National Park is the best way to discover incredible panoramic views.
Nyamirundi Island which is close to Gisenyi is a great place to visit and learn about the coffee growing and processing that is done in the area You will also find out more about the planting, growing and harvesting of bananas which are also found on the island.
You are also able to kayak on Lake Kivu as well as mountain bike or hiking on one for the famous stages of the Congo Nile Trail, which runs from Rubavu to Rusizi.
Rubavu - Formerly Gisenyi
Rubavu located over several hills at the northern edge of Lake Kivu. The town was once a Colonial beach resort, existence of which can still be seen by the fading old mansions that line the waterfront. Rubavu is a good place to relax after Gorilla Trekking whilst enjoying a cocktail and taking in the amazing views. There is a choice between a public beach which can get a little busy on weekends as well as private beaches that can only be used by hotel guests.
The Imbabazi Orphanage founded by American Rosamund Halsey Carr, is just north of the town and is memorial to an incredible lady who returned to Rwanda after the genocide at the age of 82. Roasmund transformed her ransacked house into an orphanage for survivors of the genocide and so far over 400 orphans have benefitted from the orphanage.
Imbabazi is planning to develop a cultural centre in Carr’s memory and runs a variety of projects for local people, continuing to support its former orphans. Prior booking is required in order to visit the orphanage.
Karongi - Formeerly Kibuye
Karongi Town is around 100kms south of Rubavu which is arguably the most scenic town along the Lake Kivu shoreline. The town is surrounded by eucalyptus and pine covered hills as well and a great view of the lake, which in August plays host to thousands of yellow-billed kites migrating. The majority of the hotels in Karongi have great vantage points allowing guests to make the most of the amazing sunsets.
Boat trips from Karongi town to nearby islands are also possible, with popular one being Napoleon Island (famous for its colony of fruit bats) and Amahoro Island (famous for its seasonal sundowner bar). It is also work taking time to visit the Karongi Genocide Memorial Church located on a hill above the lake, the brightly stained glass fill structure is a good place for quiet contemplation and respect.
Rusizi (Formerly Cyangugu)
The small town of Rusizi is located on the border with the DRC and is the most southerly port on Lake Kivu with views across to the Congolese city of Bukavu. Rusizi Town is the closest town to Nyungwe National Park, which is around an hour’s drive away. The town is split into an upper and lower section with more happening in the section which is also close to the Rusizi River which is an outflow for the lake. Amato boat rides (comprising three dugouts bound together with bamboo poles) are also possible to the islands of Gihaya and Nkombo, both of which support an abundant birdlife.