This tour started and ended at Golf Hotel in Karongi. The 32-km round trip to and from Kivu Lodge near the neighboring district of Nyamasheke was memorable. The boating part was as intriguing as the destination itself.
We cruised past one small island after another. Then we bypassed the KivuWatt gas extraction facility, the only one of its kind currently operating in the world. The process of converting the potentially hazardous methane gas into electricity is fascinating. When gas is separated from the water, it is processed and pumped to the power plant through a submerged pipeline covering thirteen kilometers.
It was during this trip when I saw cormorant birds for the first time. Cormorants are long-necked aquatic creatures. These birds gather their food from deep waters. After eating, they usually doze off on the islands or whatever emerges out of the surface of the lake. Cormorants can take a nap on loose branches of trees on a windy day. They can fall asleep on the edge of a violently shaking canoe.
Cormorants are multi-talented. They thrive in different environments. They can fly, crawl, swim and dive to the bottom of the lake. A cormorant is the only creature I know capable of being a bird in the sky and a fish in the water.
The submerged pipeline mentioned above is tied to a structure of a floating aid mechanism. Its floating accessories form a long line spanning the distance of the entire pipeline. On my way to Kivu Lodge, I saw napping cormorants on every visible part of the pipeline’s supporting infrastructure above the water level.
After observing the sleeping cormorants for a while, I turned my attention to the breathtaking shoreline and the backdrop of its rolling hills. I was awestruck by the beauty of Mpembe peninsula and its lush vegetation cover. As our boat kept gliding seamlessly on the surface of the lake, it left behind a trail of whirlpools and shuffled waves.
From the distance, Kivu Lodge looked like an island. The property is built on a beautiful peninsula. Most of the guests drive to the facility through the Kivu Belt road. Occasionally, the lodge hosts loaded tourists who are dropped by Akagera Aviation helicopters. There is a helipad in the premises.
Before returning to Karongi, I hiked a neighboring hill and used a pair of binoculars to zoom the view of Idjwi Island on the Congolese side of the lake. Idjwi is the biggest island in Lake Kivu and the second biggest lake island in Africa. The island is habited. Based on what I saw through the powerful lens of my binoculars, life on the island is a topic of interesting social dynamics.