Lake Kivu is the largest of the numerous freshwater lakes that shimmer in the valleys of Rwanda, and although dwarfed in size by neighbouring lakes Tanganyika in Tanzania and Albert in Uganda, it is among the top 20 deepest bodies of freshwater in the world.
Steep terraced hills lead down to the picturesque lake shore and the resort town of Kibuye; ideal stopping points to relax, swim, or take a boat excursion past the small lakeside villages that offer a rewarding glimpse of rural life. Kibuye is known for being one of the prettiest of the lakeside towns and lies spread across a series of hills interwoven with the lagoon like arms of the lake, with the hills supporting forests of pines and eucalyptus. With an almost alpine appearance, the town is the easiest accessible from Kigali, attracting both foreign and local tourists from the city.
Despite its stunning setting and size, the lake has a distinct lack of wildlife in comparison with its neighbouring lakes. Experts have suggested that this is due to the volcanic activity of the area: the lake sits in the Albertine Rift Valley, infusing the waters with methane and carbon dioxide, which is released from the lake’s waters every few thousand years leading to mass wildlife extinctions. Currently there are only 30 species of fish (16 endemic) known in Lake Kivu, while, for those looking to swim, the lake supports no crocodiles or hippos and is supposedly bilharzia free. Today, these methane reserves, which lie 300 metres down in the lake’s waters are being harvested and used to produce clean electricity for the rest of the country via on-shore gas turbines.