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Discovering the southern flank of Lake Kivu

Discovering the southern flank of Lake Kivu

From the balcony, I marveled at the view of Lake Kivu and the Congolese city of Bukavu. I had spent the night in the church-owned Centre Diocesain de Pastorale Inshuti. Rusizi people refer to this investment as simply Pastorale.

After breakfast, I strolled around on foot and observed more than what this post can possibly highlight. For starters, I visited the port. A number of ships, bearing female names, had docked. The said ships included MV Claudine, MV Denise and MV Nathalie.

A group of young men were unloading crates and crates of beer from MV Denise. The consignment had been shipped from Rubavu. MV Nathalie, on the other hand, was being stuffed with bags and bags of cement. The latter was scheduled to set sail in a couple of hours.

On the other side of the port, ship builders were busy at work. Details of my experiences in this shipyard will be shared in one of my upcoming posts. After learning one or two things about naval engineering, I walked to the border post. There is a bridge connecting Rusizi and Bukavu. It is here where the source of Rusizi River is traced.

When volcanic eruptions formed the Virunga Massif many years ago, Lake Kivu’s northern outlet towards Lake Albert was blocked. As a result, the level of its surface rose and, eventually, the water surged over the edge. New altitude levels on the northern part of the lake reversed the flow of its outlet.

Rusizi River flows towards Lake Tanganyika, spanning the distance of 117 kilometers. Its steepest gradient can be seen within the first 40 kilometers of its course. Along the way, it forms part of the border between Rwanda and the DRC. Farther downstream, it borders Burundi and the DRC.

Volcanic action responsible for the formation of the Virunga chain of mountains erased one river from the surface of the earth and formed a new one. The turmoil got rid of Lake Kivu’s gateway to the Nile water catchment area and created a new connection to the Congo River drainage system.

After touring the border post and the river bank, I returned to Pastorale and had lunch on the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. From the restaurant, I had a clear view of Karambo Peninsula and the islands of Gihaya and Nkombo. A visit to these islands is highly recommended.

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