Highlights and Main Attractions of Lake Kivu

Considered one of Africa’s Great Lakes, Lake Kivu lies on the eastern side of the continent’s Great Rift Valley, an extensive geographical area formed by tectonic activity that is gradually pulling Africa apart. As the sixth-largest of the Great Lakes, it measures approximately 56 miles long and 31 miles at its widest point. Although not known for its wildlife – just 28 described fish species are thought to live here – Lake Kivu is a picturesque destination thanks to its deep blue waters and lush banks that are carpeted in greenery. Its position on the equator ensures the native flora can be enjoyed year-round, whether from the prow of a boat or along the shoreline.

Where is Lake Kivu?

Lakeside Cities

Home to almost 2 million people, the cities of Goma and Bukavu are the largest cities along the shores of the DRC’s side of Lake Kivu. Goma lies to the north, just across the border from the Rwandan city of Gisenyi and only a short distance from the edge of Virunga National Park. The nearby volcano Nyiragongo erupted in 2002, destroying at least 15% of the city. In the ensuing years, Goma’s residents began to build upon the hardened lava flow, using the volcanic rock as the foundations for their homes, shops and various other buildings. This architectural oddity, along with the magnificent backdrop of Lake Kivu, makes Goma an interesting destination for visitors to the DRC.

Right at the southern tip of Lake Kivu is the city of Bukavu, the capital of the DRC’s South Kivu province (Goma, across the lake, is found in North Kivu). Navigating Bukavu’s unique shoreline, made up of five irregular fingers of land that stretch into the bay, makes for a pleasant afternoon excursion. The city’s prime attraction for wildlife-lovers will be its proximity to Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, one of the last refuges for the critically endangered eastern lowland gorilla. Certain family groups within the park have been habituated to humans over the course of a number of years, making Bukavu a great starting-off point for travellers wanting to spend time with these peaceful primates.

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