Lake Kivu lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and is in the western branch of the East African Rift Valley. The Lake covers a total surface area of some 2,700 km2. 42% of the surface areas of the Lake’s waters lie within Rwanda borders. The lake has a maximum depth of 480 m and is ranked eighteenth in the world in terms of depth.

The lake is 89 kilometres in length and 48 kilometres in width. Lake Kivu pours into the Ruzizi River, which flows southward into Lake Tanganyika.

The population living in Lake Kivu Basin is estimated at about million people.

Idjwi Island

Idjwi Island which is the world’s tenth-largest inland island is found in Lake Kivu. The Island belongs to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Towns

The Towns along the shores of the Lake Kivu include Bukavu, Kabare, Kalehe, Sake and Goma in Congo and Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu in Rwanda.

Fish species in the lake

The lake has about 28 fish species which include Barbus, Clarias, Haplochromis, Nile Tilapia and Tanganyika sardine. The sardine Limnothrissa miodon was introduced to Lake Kivu in the late 1950s from Lake Tanganyika.

Activities on Lake Kivu

  • A perfect place for Swimming.
  • Lake cruises are available between popular resort towns such as Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gisenyi.
  • Boat rides on the Lake.
  • Water games like Beach Volleyball
  • Eating and Drinking,
  • A perfect place for watching the Sunset.

Exploding Lakes

Lake Kivu in Rwanda and Lakes Nyos and Monoun in Camerron are among the known exploding lakes in the world. The volcanic activity beneath the bed of the lake is suspected to be the cause of the explosions.

Methane and carbon dioxide gases

The lake contains methane and carbon dioxide gases due to the volcanic activities at the bed of the lake. The amount of methane is estimated to be 65 cubic km and carbon dioxide is estimated at 256 cubic km

Methane extraction

Lake Kivu contains approximately 55 billion cubic metres of dissolved methane gas at a depth of 300 metres .Plans are underway through KivuWatt to extract and process methane gas in order to produce electricity for the country under a long term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The company is expected to commence operations in 2012.


There are occasional Boat services between the major ports of Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gisenyi but these do not run to a regular timetable and often have to be chartered. There are also boats used to ferry people to some of the Islands in the Lake but they also do not run regularly.