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Beautiful Lake Kivu

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Located on Rwanda’s western border laying against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) lies a very deep and fairly mysterious lake called Lake Kivu. Kivu means lake in certain Bantu dialects. Whilst there are other lakes within Rwanda such as Burera, Ruhondo, Muhazi and Mugasera, Lake Kivu is the largest of all and is classed as one of the Great Lakes of the Rift Valley.

Lake Kivu is only about four and a half hours drive from Kigali, the country’s capital and just one and half hours from the Parc des Volcans where the rare and endangered mountain gorillas are found.

What makes this lake of significant importance is that it contains a great deal of methane gas. Within the lake is a methane extraction plant with an estimated 65 cubic kilometres of methane.  In the past the methane extraction was used to power boilers at the Bralirwa Brewery in Gisenyi and now the methane is used by several industries.  There is even more carbon dioxide. The whole area is volcanic with the nine prominent volcanoes in the Virunga Range     

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Lake Kivu has only very small fish as they cannot live at depths - only in the shallow waters.  There are only 28 species of fish in the lake including a few introduced species.  The endemic species include the Lake Rukwa minnow, cichlids and the Nile Tilapia as well as catfish and barbel.    Lake Tanganika and Lake Kivu are the only lakes to have freshwater crabs, too.

To the northern end of the lake near Gisenyi is the Serena Hotel – a luxury hotel with a beach in front and guests can enjoy time in tropical surroundings - swimming, boating  and skiing on the Lake as well as participating in various sports activities and the health spa.  There are also another couple of smaller hotels with lovely views over the lake and the smaller islands within the lake.  These islands include Idjwi and Tshegera. There are many settlements on the lake edges both on the Congo and the Rwandan sides, including Gisenyi, Cyangugu and Kibuye.

Lake Kivu covers about 2700 square kilometres with the bottom of the lake on a volcanic fault that is moving outwards and this in turn makes it deep – about 480 metres. The lake is fresh water. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River that feeds Lake Tanganyika

After strenuous gorilla trekking, many visitors like to relax on the shores of the lake for a few days before travelling south to visit Nyungwe Forest.

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