Lake Kivu is located on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic Congo. It is 89 kilometres in length and 48 kilometres wide, covering a surface area of 2,700 square kilometres squared at an average depth of 240m with maximum depth at 480 meters, water volume of 500 km³ and surface elevation of 1,460 meters. The islands found on this lake are: Idjwi and Goma Bukavu (in Congo) yet the settlement areas are: Kibuy and Cyangugu (in Rwanda). Lake Kivu is among the main lakes in Africa and it found on the border of Rwanda and Congo, within the Albertine western Rift, and part of the Great Rift Valley. this lake pours into River Ruzizi and flows southward to Lake Tanganyika.
Part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, Lake Kivu in the west of Rwanda is surrounded by magnificent mountains and has deep emerald green waters. It is Rwanda’s largest lake and the sixth largest in Africa.
Rubavu which was previously known as Gisenyi is a large town on the northern edge of Lake Kivu, an hour’s drive from Volcanoes National Park and the perfect place to relax after gorilla trekking. Once a colonial beach resort of note, Rubavu’s waterfront is lined with fading old mansions, hotels and trendy bars on the lakeshore, ideal for sundowner cocktails.
Karongi which is half way along the lake is a popular beach resort with hillsides covered in pines and eucalyptus serve as a backdrop to the sparkling lake. At dawn and dusk, the sound of local fisherman singing carries across the water as they paddle in unison.
From Rubavu in the north, the Congo Nile Trail extends 227 kilometres of breath-taking landscapes all the way to Rusizi in the south of Lake Kivu. The trail gently curves back and forth as it weaves through hills and mountains beside the lake with eucalyptus trees lining the road and every inch of the hills seemingly terraced with bananas.
The bottom of the lake rests on the rift valley floor which is actually pulling apart resulting into volcanic action within area therefore making it very deep at 480 meters and it is ranked as the 15th deepest lake in the world. Lake Kivu is delimited by beautiful mountains. The 10th largest island in the world is found in Lake Kivu and some of the villages around this lake are: Sake, Kalehe, Kabare, Bukavu, and Goma found in Congo plus Cyangugu, Gisenyi and Kibuye in Rwanda.
Among the Fish species caught here are: Haplochromis, Clarias plus Barbus, and the Nile Tilapia which was later introduced in the lake together with the Tanganyika Sardine.
Lake Kivu is one the 3 including Lake Nyos in Cameroon and Lake Monoun recognized exploding lakes, that experience vicious lake overturns. Investigative views of the geological history reveal a repetitive huge biological extinction close to every one thousand years in this lake. The cause of the lake overturns, are actually not well known, however sporadic eruptive action is expected. The gas chemical constitution of the exploding lakes is unique to each lake; particularly Lake Kivu methane and carbon dioxide as a result of lake water mixing with a volcano. The danger of Lake Kivu experiencing a turnover would extremely be very disastrous since approximately two million people live within the lake basin.
Scientists think that enough volcanic interaction with the water bed of the lake bears high-pressure gas concentrations might heat water, compelling the methane away from the water, resulting into a methane explosion, together with triggering virtually simultaneous escape of carbon dioxide. This carbonic-acid gas would eventually suffocate large numbers of people on the lake basin whilst the gases escape off the surface of the lake. It is still considered that this lake may create lake tsunamis as the gas blows from it.
Methane from Lake Kivu was primarily considered to be a cheap natural resource for export and generation of inexpensive energy. When this chemical mechanism that resulted into lake overturns began to be known of, also the consequent threat of this lake action to the neighbouring communities. An experimental vent-pipe in 2001 was placed in Lake Nyos to de-gas the lake’s deep water, nonetheless this measure on the large Lake Kivu would be very expensive. Actually there aren’t any plans that have been put in laces to reduce this great threat on the lake.
Lake Kivu was discovered to contain about 55 billion cc of methane gas in a liquid form at a depth of 1000 feet or 300 meters. until 2004, the extraction of this gas was done on small scale, and distilled gas used for run boilers at the Bralirwa brewery, the located in Gisenyi. the government of Rwanda is in negotiations with a couple of parties to as much as large scale exploitation of the resource, to generate methane from this lake. the Extraction is considered to be affordable and easy because when the water rich in gas is pumped upwards all the dissolved gases (initially methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide) begins to bubble out as the force of the water reduces.
This projection is anticipated to increase the power generation capacity in Rwanda by up to 20 times and perhaps will enable the country to sell power to its neighbouring countries.
The very first European (German) – Count Adolf von Gotzen, was the first to visit this lake was in 1894. For then it has been mixed up in the contradiction between the Tutsi and the Hutu people in Rwanda, together with their associates in Congo, which resulted in the Rwandan Genocide back in 1994 as and the first plus second Congo wars. Actually several dead bodies were seen floating on Lake Kivu after the genocide.
Today Lake Kivu is an adventurous tourist destination in Rwanda with exciting way to explore Rwanda is a kayaking tour on Lake Kivu, mountain biking, boat trips to visit the several islands on the lake, fishing activities and hiking one of the 6 off-the-beaten path stages of the spectacular Congo Nile Trail.