Lake Kivu

On the western boundary of Rwanda is Lake Kivu. It offers a wonderful setting to end your Rwanda safari. It could also be a relaxing interlude between wildlife viewing as it lies between the primate hotspot of Nyungwe Forest and the gorilla trekking of Volcanoes National Park.


Lake Kivu, on the western boundary of Rwanda, is one of Africa's Great Lakes. This scenic lake is a stopping off point between a visit to the primate hotspot of Nyungwe Forest and the gorilla trekking of Volcanoes National Park. So it provides a relaxing interlude between primate and game-viewing.

Though one of the smaller of Africa’s Great Lakes, Lake Kivu is actually the sixth-largest lake in the world. It covers a whopping surface area of roughly 2,700 square kilometres. Plus, it’s also one of the deepest, reaching to almost 500 metres at its maximum, and the highest altitude.

Steep forested hills plunge into this beautiful Rift Valley lake with its palm-fringed little sandy bays. A wild roller-coaster road connects the three resort towns of Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu. It meanders through lush terraced fields and patches of misty rain forest. Occasionally it offers sweeping views over the blue waters. And behind the lake is the spectacular backdrop of the Virunga volcanic mountains.

You can either stay at the colonial old town of Gisenyi or the pretty beach town of Kibuye. Gisenyi is set on a sandy beach lined with swaying palms and colonial-era hotels. These exude an atmosphere of tropical languor.

You can also choose to stay at the southern most lake point and use Lake Kivu as a starting point for a day visit to Nyungwe Forest, only 30-40 mins drive away.

Lake Kivu reflection

When to visit Lake Kivu

Dec to mid-March

Summer in Lake Kivu

This area tends to be visited en-route from Nyungwe Forest to Volcanoes National Park, rather than independently. This is a good time to visit as the common afternoon or evening rain showers clear the haze and so you have a decent amount of sunshine. The frequent rain ensures the surrounding mountains are green and lush.
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 79 ℉
MIN TEMP 15 ℃ / 58 ℉

Mid-March to May

Long rains in Lake Kivu

This is the time of the long rains so it is not an ideal time to visit. But the vegetation is green and lush.
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 78 ℉
MIN TEMP 15 ℃ / 59 ℉

June to Mid-Sep

Dry season in Lake Kivu

This is the driest time and it remains a very pleasant temperature. However, the landscape tends to golden and brown as the dry season continues. It is also often hazy due to lacking of clearing rain.
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 78 ℉
MIN TEMP 14 ℃ / 57 ℉

Mid-Sep to November

Short rains in Lake Kivu

This is the time of the ‘short rains’ so the landscape turns from brown back to green.
MAX TEMP 26 ℃ / 78 ℉
MIN TEMP 14 ℃ / 58 ℉

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Did you know
  • SizeAfrica's 8th largest lake
  • ChemistryChance of suffering a limnic eruption every 1000 years

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Sonja Brand

Africa Travel Specialist

Hi I’m Sonja, I’m here to help you plan your ideal holiday experience

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