Lake Kivu is situated between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda; it lies in the Albertine Rift. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika. Lake Kivu is 2,700 square meters and sits at an elevation of 1,460 meters above sea level. Fifty eight percent (1,370 square kilometers) of the lake lies within the DRC, the balance in Rwanda. There is volcanic activity in the area caused by the lake bed, which sits on the rift valley, slowly being pulled apart. The lake is ranked eighteenth in the world in terms of its depth; the deepest part is 480 meters.
The islands in the lake are interesting; the world’s tenth largest inland island, Idjwi is amongst the many in the lake. Tshegera, a tiny island in the lake, is within the boundaries of Virunga National Park on the DRC side. The Congo shoreline has many settlements including Bukayu, Kabare, Kalehe, Sake and Goma; the Rwandan shoreline has Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu, to name a few.
There are an estimated 2 million inhabitants living in the catchment basin of Lake Kivu. There are many activities going on to support this great number of people, such as tea plantations and factories, coffee washing stations, subsistent agriculture, cattle farming, honey harvesting, fishing, brewing of beer, hydroelectric production, mining, methane extraction in Lake Kivu itself, boat building, construction and brick making. In addition there are many tertiary activities such as markets, shops, restaurants, hotels; particularly in the main cities on the Rwandan side, Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu.
In terms of Leisure and Tourism activities, Lake Kivu is well-blessed. The lake itself provides swimming, beach activities as well as kayaking and canoeing opportunities to explore both the shoreline and the islands off shore. As Lake Kivu has no Hippos, Crocodiles and Bilharzia, it is one of the best lakes in East Africa for water sports. There are overnight and even 4-day journeys available by water between Gisenyi and Kibuye.
Sea Kayaking can be combined easily with birding, cycling, fishing and visits to the boat manufacturers and coffee washing stations at Cyimbili and Kinunu. Many of the Islands are uninhabited and support native fragile flora ecosystems, which includes over 60 species of birds. Napoleon Island near Kibuye is home to thousands of bats. The inhabitants of Bugarama and Nkomo Islands are very receptive to visitors; a wonderful opportunity for visitors to visit some local people.
In the evening it is possible to join the fishermen for an night on their wooden boats to learn about their traditional fishing techniques. Many restaurants along the shores of Lake Kivu serve up the fresh Tilapia and Isambaza that the fishermen catch.
In Cyimbili and Kinunu you can visit the coffee processing plants and experience the entire process from plant to cup. Tasting the different beans roasted can be a great experience for coffee lovers.