Lake Kivu is one of the Prime destinations that are always visited by travelers on safaris in Rwanda. The lakes is considered as part of the Great Lakes of Africa positioned at the boarder of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo lying with in the Albertine rift which is the western branch of the Great East African Rift valley.
The Kivu Lake has the outlet of River Ruzizi
which flows to the south emptying into Lake Tanganyika. It can be noted
that the first European to encounter the lake was a German National
Count Adolf von Götzen in the year 1894 and the lake gained a notoriety
position as the main dumping place for the genocide victims
Regarding geography, Lake Kivu stretches over a geographical coverage of
2,700 km2 standing at an elevation of 1,460 m above sea level. The 58%
of the lake waters are positioned in the Democratic Republic of Congo
with the rest in the boundaries of Rwanda. The bed of Lake Kivu sits on
the rift valley floor and it is continuously being pulled apart forming
volcanic activity and enhancing its depth to its current maximum depth
of 1,575feet about 480m which makes it the 18th world’s deepest lake
making it an ideal attraction to be included on what to encounter while
planning safaris to Rwanda
Lake Kivu features Idwiji Island which stands as the tenth largest
Island in the whole world. The lake also features the impressive tiny
Island of Tshegera located within the Virunga National Park in the
neighboring Congo. There are series of lake shores settlements including
the areas of Kabare, Bukavu, Sake, Kalehe and Goma in the Congo
Democratic Republic while in Rwanda the settlements are featured at
Cyangungu, Kibuye and Gisenyi.
Regarding Chemistry, Lake Kivu is a
fresh water lake and like Lake Monoun and Lake Nyos, it experiences
limnic eruptions. A lot of biological extinctions have been evidenced on
the lake shores by the geologists noted to have occurred about 1000
year ago as a result of events of outgassing. Though the trigger of the
lake overturn is not known, the volcanic activity is well suspected. It
can be noted that the chemical composition of the gases in the lakes
that explode vary for every lake and for Lake Kivu, it is carbon dioxide
and methane because of the lakes interaction with the volcano. There is
65 cubic kilometers of methane estimated to be in Lake Kivu and if
burnt in a year, it can generate a mean power of around 100 gigawatts
over the whole period. Lake Kivu is also noted to contain an estimate of
256 cubic Kilometers of the Carbon dioxide gas. The water temperature
in Lake Kivu stands at 24 degrees Celsius and features a ph. level of
8.6. The Methane gas is noted to be derived by microbial reduction of
the Volcanic CO2 and it can be noted that the overturn of Lake Kivu is
extremely catastrophic far beyond that of Cameroon lakes since there are
about 2 million thriving in the lake basin of Kivu.
believe that the adequate volcanic interaction in the bottom waters of
Lake Kivu containing enormous concentration of gas have the capacity to
heat water, push the methane out of the water, trigger a close
simultaneous carbon dioxide release and this carbon dioxide would
suffocate considerable numbers of people on the Lake Kivu basin as a
result of the gas rolling on the surface of the lake. It can be noted
that is possible for the lake to create tsunamis in the process of the
gas exploding out.
The risk posed by Lake Kivu began to gain much
attention and understanding following the analysis of Lake Nyos recent
events. Initially, the gas in Lake Kivu was considered as just a natural
resource that would be exported and put to use for generation of power.
However, with the understanding of the complex causes of the lake
overturns, the great danger that it poses to the surrounding communities
began to be realized.
The efforts of installing the vent pipes to
remove the mentioned gas from the bottom layers of the lake like what
was done at Lake Nyos might be too expensive considering the size of
Kivu Lake. It can be noted that there are about 500 million carbon
dioxide tones which is little under 2% of the quantities released by
human fossil fuel burning per annum. This makes the process of releasing
the gas to be more costly going beyond the system building and
Regarding the methane extraction, the Kivu lake is noted
to contain 55 billion cubic meters about 1.9 trillion cubic feet of the
dissolved biogas at 300m depth. The Bralirwa brewery operating at
Gisenyi has been extracting small quantities of this gas to run its
factory and the government of Rwanda has been engaged in various efforts
of bringing a range of developers on board to produce the methane from
Lake Kivu including the Kivu watt which is backed by Contour Global a
United States Energy Company.
Besides gases, Lake Kivu also
features minimal quantities of fish Species with 28 Species in number of
which four (4) of these have been introduced. The indigenous fish
Species in Lake Kivu include; Lake Rukwa minnow (Raiamas moorii), four
species of Barbus (B. apleurogramma, B. altianalis, B. pellegrini and B.
kerstenii), two Clarias catfish (C. gariepinus and C. liocephalus), an
Amphilius catfish, Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and fifteen (15)
restricted Haplochromis cichlids. The Fish Species that were introduced
include; three (3) cichlids, O. leucostictus and redbreast tilapia
(Coptodon rendalli), the long fin tilapia (Oreochromis macrochir), and a
clupeid and the Lake Tanganyika sardine (Limnothrissa miodon). The
Tanganyika Sardine was introduced by a Belgian Engineer A. Collart to
Lake Kivu in the year 1959 and it is the only natural lake in the world
with these Species which was initially restricted to Tanganyika Lake.
Regarding tourism, Lake Kivu is by no means an ordinary Rwanda safari
destination. It is a haven for a range of water activities that tourists
can engage in while on safari in Rwanda.
Being a Bilharzia free lake with no Hippos and Crocodiles with
favorable surface temperatures of 23 – 27 degrees Celsius, Lake Kivu is
an ideal swimming point in Rwanda. No need to worry about the gases as
they are trapped at 260m away from the shores.
Lake Kivu also offers
a rich ground for popular water sports including the wind surfing,
jet-ski, catamaran and Kayaking. It’s impressive Islands are ideal for
encountering including Napoleon Island which is a habitat to a thousand
bats, Amahoro Island, Paladise Malahide and the cultural tours to the
Nkomo and Bunagana Islands. Lake Kivu also offers impressive encounters
for sports fishing and boat cruises.