About Lake Kivu
Location: on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.
Type: one of the African Great Lakes.
Total surface: total surface area of some 2,700 km2 (1,040 sq mi).
Altitude: 1,460 metres (4,790 ft) above sea level.
Depth: maximum depth of 480 m (1,575 ft), 15th deepest in the world.
Fish species: Native fish include species of Barbus, Clarias, and Haplochromis, as well as Nile Tilapia. Limnothrissa miodon, one of two species known as the Tanganyika sardine, was introduced in 1959 and formed the basis of a new pelagic zone fishery.
Lake Kivu is the largest of Rwanda's many freshwater lakes, emptying into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika. On the border of Rwanda and the DRC, the lake lies in the Albertine (western) Rift, and is therefore an integral part of the Great Rift Valley. Due to its position on the rift, it is slowly being pulled apart, which causes considerable volcanic activity, as evidenced by the many hot springs that encircle its shores. Its position in the Rift also makes it exceptionally deep (480m), ranking as the 15th deepest lake in the world. It is also home to the world's tenth-largest inland island, Idjwi, while settlements on its shore include Bukavu, Kabare, Kalehe, Sake and Goma in Congo and Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu in Rwanda.
One of three known ‘exploding lakes'
Lake Kivu is one the world's three so-called ‘exploding lakes' (the other two are the Cameroonian Lakes Nyos and Lake Monoun), all of which experience periodic violent geological activity which is thought to result from the presence of gas which, in the case of Lake Kivu, takes the form of methane and carbon dioxide. Some preliminary exploration has taken place into the possibility of releasing or otherwise harnessing this methane gas, and it is estimated that it could increase Rwanda's energy generation capability by as much as 20 times. At present however, the only commercial use is that of the Bralirwa brewery in Gisenyi
Three resort towns, Gisenyi, Kibuye and Cyangugu, stand on the lake, connected by a panoramic road that passes through plantain fields and relics of rainforest. There is also a charter boat service on the lake, which connects the three towns. Gisenyi, the most developed of these resorts, lies less than an hour's drive from the Parc National des Volcans and offers a sandy beach, palm trees and a charming post-colonial boulevard frontage. Kibuye, to the south, also offers lake frontage, but this time backed by pine tree covered hills. Different again is Cyangugu, which is close to the famous Nyungwe Forest, home to numerous primates and rare birds.