Lake Kivu Rwanda

lake kivu rwanda

Lake Kivu is the biggest lake in Rwanda. It is located in the western part of the Rwanda, stretching from the north in the foothills of the Virunga mountains down to the south near Nyungwe Forest. The lake is shared between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and thereby making up the biggest part of the border between the two countries.

Lake Kivu is one of the most beautiful lakes in Central Africa. It is surrounded by lush rolling hills and is dotted with many beautiful green islands. This gorgeous scenery is largely because of its location in the Albertine rift valley. And, now with a number of quality hotels, resorts and beaches that have been set up along the lake, it provides a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. And for those planning holiday or adventure tours in Rwanda, Lake Kivu should not miss on your trip itineraries as it is a perfect place to relax after or in-between your adventures and safaris in Rwanda. For example, after the amazing gorilla trekking or volcano hiking in the Volcanoes National Park, Lake Kivu is the ideal place to relax and unwind.

Apart from being a great relaxation getaway, Lake Kivu is also becoming a top adventure destination in Rwanda offering a number of outdoor experiences including boat cruises, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, fishing and swimming among others.

The three Rwanda major cities along Lake Kivu to consider for getaways and adventure

If you are planning on visiting Lake Kivu please note that there are three major lakeside cities/towns along the lake that can host you. You can chose from the three cities depending on where you are coming from (flow of your itinerary) or on the type of experience you may be looking out for.


Gisenyi is the most popular of the three cities and quite often new visitors to Rwanda think this is the only place to visit and experience Lake Kivu. Gisenyi town is located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, in Rubavu District in the northwest of Rwanda. Gisenyi overlooks Goma City of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the other side of Lake Kivu.

Gisenyi is the most developed and most vibrant of the three towns. There are many hotels and sandy beaches and thus popular with weekend party goes coming in from Kigali and across from the Democratic Republic of Congo coming to party at the beaches over the weekend. Some of the hotels we can recommend for international visitors include: Lake Kivu Serena Hotel (upmarket), Paradis Malahide Hotel (Midrange), Inzu Lodge (budget).

If you want a lively experience on Lake Kivu then Gisenyi is the best option. There are also plenty of activities to engage in while in Gisenyi such as: a boat cruise to explore the beautiful lake and visit some islands, paddle boarding, kayaking, visit a local fishing community and see how they locally catch fish, and visit hot springs among others.

Gisenyi is located in the foothills of the Virunga mountains and it is 1.5 hours drive from the Volcanoes National Park, home of the mountain gorillas. It is thus a perfect place to come and unwind after the strenuous gorilla trekking adventure or volcano hiking in the Volcanoes National Park.

From Kigali to Gisenyi is a 3.5 hours drive.

Kibuye city

Kibuye is situated midway between the north and the south of the Lake Kivu. It is a beautiful quiet town thus, not as vibrant as Gisenyi. It is arguably in the most scenic section of Lake Kivu. There are almost no beaches but there are number of hotels in quiet spots with a waterfront. Due to the quiet and beautiful scenery Kibuye is arguably the best place to retreat and relax on Lake Kivu. Some of the hotels we can recommend to international visitors include: Kivu Lode (upmarket), Moriah Hill Resort (Midrange), Home Saint Jean (Budget)


Cyangugu is the last town at the south of the lake. It overlooks Bukavu town on the other side of the lake in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cyangugu is not as developed as the other two towns and does not have a lot of hotels. Cyangugu is situated about 30 – 40 minutes drive from Nyungwe Forest National Park and is thus a good place to stay when visiting Nyungwe forest national park for the chimpanzee trekking tour or other treks in the forest. Hotels we can recommend in Cyangugu include: Emeraude Kivu Resort (midrange), Peace Ghesthouse (Budget)

Tours with Lake Kivu

3 days Rwanda chimpanzee tracking and lake Kivu tour

5 days Rwanda Gorillas and Lake Kivu tour

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