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Five things you probably didn’t know about Lake Kivu

Five things you probably didn’t know about Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu getaways are popular. Whether it’s kicking back, relaxing and sipping your favorite beverages by the lake or having a barbecue on Amahoro Island, this lake never disappoints.

How much do you know about Lake Kivu? Today, let me share a few interesting facts about the lake we escape to whenever we feel the need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Lake Kivu is 15,000 years old
Formed about 15,000 years ago, this lake is relatively young. Most lakes found in the Albertine Rift and the entire Great Lakes region are much older than Kivu — Lake Tanganyika being the oldest one.

Lake Kivu was formed during the Pleistocene volcanic action. The turmoil led to the formation of a volcanic dam and reversed the south-north flow of the water course — ultimately creating a Tanganyika-bound southwards flow through Rusizi River.

Only 42% of Lake Kivu belongs to Rwanda
Lake Kivu covers an area of 2,370 km2. However only 1,000 km2 lies on the Rwandan side of the lake. The rest of it is in DR Congo.

The Rwandan side of the lake is found in the Western Province while the Congolese side is shared by the North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. Goma and Bukavu serve as administrative capitals and commercial hubs of the two provinces. Tourism is more active on the Rwandan side. The development of tourism along the Rwandan Kivu Belt is attributed to assuring security, better infrastructure and effective advertising campaigns.

Lake Kivu encompasses 250 islands
According to data obtained from the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), there are 250 islands in Lake Kivu. Again, most of these islands are in DR Congo. Only 56 of them are found on the Rwandan side of the lake.

Lake Kivu’s islands cover an area of 315 km2. Idjwi Island (200 km2) is the biggest one. It is the second biggest lake island in Africa behind Lake Victoria’s Ukerewe Island (530 km2).

Lake Kivu has the richest methane gas deposits in the world
Lake Kivu has about 300 billion cubic meters of carbondioxide and 60 billion cubic meters of methane gas.

For a long time, many experts looked at Lake Kivu as a ticking time bomb due to the possibility of a hazardous explosion. Some compared it to a bottle of a fizzle drink which, when shaken, releases gas. The release of Lake Kivu’s deep concentration of dissolved gases could be catastrophic.

However, investors saw an opportunity. In Karongi, KivuWatt is converting deep-water methane gas into energy. The project is generating electricity while reducing the risk of toxic releases. The first phase of this project is powering three gensets to produce 26 MW. The next phase will deploy nine additional gensets capable of producing 75 MW.

Lake Kivu is crocodile-free
Lake Kivu is crocodile/hippo-free. Sharks don’t live in fresh water and the jellyfish is unheard of in this part of the world.

This lake is one of those water bodies we can safely turn into playgrounds. At Lake Kivu, we indulge in our favorite water sports without fear of predators who turn human beings into lunch. It is on the gentle waves of this lake where I learned how to propel a kayak. It is on the same waves where I was converted into an avid paddleboarder. Last but not least, it is on the same shuffled waves where I unleashed the swimmer in me.

The author is an adventurer on a mission to discover what Rwanda has in store. Follow his awe-inspiring expeditions on Twitter @GeoExposure.

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