On the Way to Lake Kivu

It was rare to see anyone outside of a large village actually riding a bicycle!Bicycles were used mainly as makeshift wagons or wheelbarrows. Even on a rare piece of flat road, the heavy load itself was already compromising the tires, so the rider would continue to push.
Bunches of bananas were one of the most frequent loads. Rwanda had banana trees everywhere.
Tea plantations have a distinctive look. Harvesting by hand on a regular rotation keeps everything bright green and evenly growing. Rwanda’s altitude and hilly geography allow it to grow both tea and coffee.
Boys on bicycles “hitching” a ride behind a large truck. The hills were a strong motivator, but…. Fortunately for them, traffic was not moving very fast.
Our destination for two nights, a resort along the shore of Lake Kivu, with the friendliest staff imaginable!
The (very) local market was still going on when we arrived in the afternoon, although thinning. Sugar cane was still on offer from nearly everyone.
Local dancers performing local dances arrived after dinner. They were lovely people, and some of the hotel staff joined in spontaneously. I learned that some of the movements are based on animals that are important to the local way of life – in this instance, fish, since fishing is a major source of food.
Nancy (South Africa,) on the left, and Lily (the other American) joined in from our group, and that guy in the tie who is about to join in also is the resort manager.
In the morning, we had a cruise around Lake Kivu. This is the local market area again, viewed this time from the water.
These are fishing boats – the ones with the long arms that hold the nets. They go out in the late evening, after dark, and return after about six o’clock the next morning, in time to sell their catch for the day.
Gisenyi is the delivery port for shipping containers. Because the road system largely by-passes the lake’s peninsulas, shore-side residents and businesses receive their deliveries by boat.
Boat deliveries include pallets of bricks and hundreds of bottled drinks in those plastic crates.
Walking is the most common means of transportation.
Boys frequently amuse themselves by watching the tourists. Tourists in the past amused themselves by handing out money or candy, but tourism operators discourage that nowadays in favor of more culture-oriented interaction.

Lake Kivu is one of Africa’s “Great Lakes.” The lake covers an area of 2700 square kilometers (1,043 square miles) and is 480 meters deep (about 1,575 feet.) It sits in the East African Rift – a groove in the Earth’s crust – at the foot of the Virunga Volcano chain. The western shore is the DRC, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the eastern shore is Rwanda. The border runs roughly through the center, with the large island in the middle going to the DRC. The lake used to drain to the north, but the Virunga volcanoes there blocked it about twelve thousand years ago, and now it drains to the south, into the Ruzizi River and then into the Congo River.

Lake Kivu is one of a few lakes in Africa that are called “killer lakes” because of their carbon dioxide content that seeps into the lake through the volcanic rock from nearby volcanoes. There are two other lakes in Africa, Lake Nyos and Lake Manoun, both in Cameroon.

Lake Kivu has an additional hazard. The water of Lake Kivu sits on top of not just one, but two huge layers of gas: carbon dioxide and methane. Bacteria have spent about 15,000 years converting dead organic matter and magma-related carbon dioxide into methane, which is a process unique to Lake Kivu. There are efforts now going on to tap into the methane gas reserve and use it to generate electricity, which Rwanda needs.

I was up very early on our last morning, the fog had not yet lifted completely.
The “singing boats” were returning from their night on the lake. The men sing and chant to keep their three boats (they’re connected) rowing in sync.
As my cohorts woke up and joined me by the lake, the kind people of Paradise Malhide served us breakfast by the shore.
Our guide, Jacob (red hat,) and Paul, our driver, began playing “Luggage Tetris” at the back of our vehicle.

And we were off to Uganda to visit the mountain gorillas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s