Top Lakes to Visit in Rwanda

Lake Kivu is one of Top Lakes to Visit in Rwanda

Rwanda is known for its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich culture. One of the best ways to experience Rwanda’s natural beauty is by exploring its lakes.

A lake safari is a leisure activity where one explores a lake and its ecosystem via boat, offering opportunities to appreciate nature, observe wildlife, and learn about aquatic flora and fauna.

In this blog post, we will discuss the top lakes to visit in Rwanda, including Lake Kivu, Lake Ruhondo, and Lake Burera.

Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu in Rwanda
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Location and Size

Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s largest lake, situated along the country’s western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This vast body of water covers an area of approximately 2,700 square kilometers, making Lake Kivu one of the largest lakes in Africa.

Unique Features

What sets it apart from other lakes in the region is its unique geological composition. The lake contains a large reservoir of dissolved methane gas, which is being harnessed for energy production.

Despite this, it remains a safe and attractive destination for tourists, with its predator-free waters, sandy shores, and lush green hills dotted with tea plantations.

Activities

Lake Kivu offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy, including:

  • Water sports: Kayaking, windsurfing, swimming, and canoeing
  • Biking: The Congo Nile Trail offers panoramic views of the lake, hills, and vegetation
  • Island hopping: Explore the numerous islands scattered across the lake
  • Birding: Observe the diverse birdlife in the area

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the lake is during the dry season, which runs from June to September.

During these months, the weather is pleasant and stable, with temperatures averaging around 27°C (81°F) during the day and 15-16°C (59-61°F) at night.

June and July are the driest months, making them ideal for relaxing by the lake.

Nearby Towns and Accommodations

Kivu is flanked by three main towns: Gisenyi, Kibuye, and Cyangugu. These towns offer a range of accommodation options, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses.

The lake’s popularity ensures visitors find high-quality accommodations with beautiful views and easy access to the shoreline.

Twin Lakes: Lake Ruhondo and Lake Burera

Lake Burera is one of Top Lakes to Visit in Rwanda
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Location and Formation

Ruhondo and Burera, known as the “twin lakes,” are located in Rwanda’s Northern Province, near Uganda. They were formed by volcanic activity in the region and are close to each other.

Interestingly, Lake Burera, which is at a slightly higher altitude (150 meters) than Lake Ruhondo, feeds into the latter, creating a unique hydrological connection.

Differences Between the Two Lakes

While both lakes are stunning, there are some notable differences between them. Burera is larger, deeper, and has more developed islands compared to Ruhondo.

The surrounding landscapes also vary, with Burera’s shores characterized by steep, terraced hills, while Ruhondo is nestled amidst gentler slopes and lush vegetation.

Activities at Lake Ruhondo

Visitors to Ruhondo can engage in a variety of activities, such as:

  1. Boat tours: Explore the Virunga Mountains and Volcanoes National Park while spotting unique bird species like the Red-faced Woodland Warbler and the Rwenzori Turaco.
  2. Canoeing: Paddle to nearby islands like Bushongo, Munanira, Bishosho, and Cuza.
  3. Nature walks and birding: Embark on guided walks to nearby villages and observe the diverse birdlife around the lake.
  4. Fishing: Try your luck fishing in the lake’s waters.
  5. Island visits and swimming lessons: Visit the islands and take swimming or canoeing lessons from local boatmen.
  6. Visit Meza Malonga restaurant: Chef Dieuveil Malonga’s restaurant serves meals inspired by Musanze and the Twin Lakes, and sources many ingredients from local farms.

Activities at Lake Burera

Burera offers a similar range of activities, including:

  1. Boat cruises: Take a canoe or boat tour to appreciate the lake’s birdlife and the surrounding terraced hills.
  2. Birding: Join a guided nature walk to spot water birds like kingfishers.
  3. Traditional fishing: Learn traditional fishing methods and enjoy your catch at your hotel.
  4. Biking: Cycle around the lake and take in the breathtaking views of the Virunga Volcanoes.

Best Time to Visit and Accessibility

Lake Ruhondo is one of Top Lakes to Visit in Rwanda
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The best time to visit Lake Ruhondo and Lake Burera is during the dry seasons, which run from June to September and December to February.

During these months, there is minimal rainfall and clearer skies, making for better lake activities and trekking conditions in the nearby Volcanoes National Park, famous for its mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.

The twin lakes are accessible year-round by road from various locations. Visitors coming from Uganda can access the lakes via the Cyanika border crossing.

Burera can be reached within an hour’s drive from Volcanoes National Park or Cyeru town, while Ruhondo is a short distance from the town of Musanze.

Safari Tours Around the Top Lakes to Visit in Rwanda

For those looking to combine their lake visits with other Rwandan attractions, several safari tours offer comprehensive itineraries:

  1. 7-Day Rwanda Safari: This tour includes wildlife viewing, primate encounters, a visit to Kivu, and an excursion to Volcanoes National Park.
  2. 4-Day Gorilla Safari & Lake Kivu: Embark on gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park, visit the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, and explore the Gorilla Guardian Village, before relaxing at Kivu.
  3. 3-Day Mountain Gorilla Safari & Lake Kivu: This shorter tour focuses on a mountain gorilla trek and a visit to Kivu.

Wrap-Up

Rwanda’s lakes are truly remarkable destinations that offer a perfect combination of natural splendor, thrilling adventures, and immersive cultural experiences.

From the tranquil waters of Lake Kivu to the breathtaking twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera, these locations provide a much-needed escape from the stresses of modern life.

Combine lake visits with other iconic Rwandan attractions, such as mountain gorilla treks or cultural village tours for an ideal itinerary.

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