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Lake Kivu is located on the western edge of Rwanda, approximately an hour drive from the Parc National des Volcan, a two and a half hour drive from Kigali, and a four hour drive from Nyungwe Forest National Park.
There are three main towns along the lakeshore - Gisenyi (Rubavu), Kibuye (Karongi) and Cyangugu (Rusizi). The towns are approximately three to four hours drive from each other.
Around Lake Kivu you’ll find long stretches of palm-fringed sandy beaches, dotted with friendly fishing villages, making it the perfect place to relax after your gorilla or chimpanzee trekking adventures.
There are no hippos or crocodiles in the lake, so you can safely swim here and you can also enjoy water-based activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, water-skiing, jet-skiing and windsurfing.
There are numerous activities to take part in during a stay at Lake Kivu, including guided kayaking trips from Gisenyi and Kibuye, excursions to the nearby coffee plantations, hiking through banana groves, rainforest and woodlands, mountain biking though the lush green hills, visits to local communities to gain an insight into rural life and Rwandan culture, boat trips to Napoleon Island to seek out the colony of bats, and bird watching trips to spot the kingfishers, pelicans and cranes and other bird species which can be seen along the shores of Lake Kivu.
Lake Kivu is a year round destination, however the best time to visit is during the long dry season from June to September and the short dry season from mid-December to mid-February. During these months the weather is perfect for sunbathing on the sandy beaches, swimming in the lake, or enjoying water-based activities including kayaking and boat excursions. The dry months also offer ideal conditions for hiking and mountain biking in the lush hills.
The long rains occur from March to May, with April being particularly wet, and the short rains occur from October until the beginning of December. If you visit Lake Kivu during the wet seasons you can expect short heavy showers interspersed with sunshine, rather than continuous rain throughout the day. The rains bring a burst of new vegetation to the region and the landscape surrounding Lake Kivu becomes lush and beautiful.
We feature Lake Kivu on our Rwandan Highlights Holiday. This fantastic itinerary includes incredible wildlife encounters and exciting adventure activities - you’ll track chimpanzees in Nyungwe National Park and you’ll trek deep into the forests of Parc National des Volcans in search of endangered mountain gorillas, plus you’ll experience Nyungwe’s 60m high Canopy Walkway and then enjoy a guided kayaking excursion on the calm waters of Lake Kivu.
Located above a sandy beach, Lake Kivu Serena has fantastic facilities including a large swimming pool overlooking the lake, a spa offering Elemis treatments and massages, and a cocktail bar, making it a perfect place to relax after gorilla trekking.
Other accommodation options at Lake Kivu include the rustic yet stylish Cormoran Lodge, the peaceful Kivu Lodge, and Emeraude Kivu Resort which is located in the town of Kamembe at the southern end of Lake Kivu making it a great option if you’re visiting Nyungwe Forest National Park.