Rwanda's 6 Top Lakes to Swim In

The boat to Cyuza's Island | © Leah Feiger
The boat to Cyuza's Island | © Leah Feiger
Photo of Leah Feiger
8 February 2018

Though landlocked, Rwanda still manages to be one of the lushest countries out there. Gorgeous views, plenty of hiking, an exciting capital, and several diverse ecosystems render this small East African nation incredibly unique. And for all those travelers looking for a proper beach-style vacation, Rwanda has plenty of gorgeous lakes to keep even the most water-focused tourist happy.

Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu, Rwanda’s largest lake, makes up a good portion of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s shared border. Several picturesque towns such as Gisenyi, Kibuye, and Cyangugu, dot the lake, where lakeside retreats, casual beaches, restaurants, and boat rides are widely available. The best swimming spots are located in Kibuye and Gisenyi.

Canoe on Lake Kivu | © Katie Taylor / Flickr

Lake Muhazi

Lake Muhazi, situated less than an hour’s drive from the capital city of Kigali, is a great day-trip option. Several restaurants and bars can be found on the lake’s tranquil shores, and the lake, while not built up, is adding new attractions and cafés all the time.

Lake Muhazi, Rwanda

Lake Burera

As one of the most serene spots in the country, Lake Burera, along with Lake Ruhondo, make up Rwanda’s twin lakes. Travelers can camp on Ile de Cyuza, or opt to go a bit more upmarket at Virunga Lodge for a view of both lakes. Early mornings and sunsets are striking, with hazy blue mountains framing the lake’s edges. While there, you can spend some time swimming, kayaking, and lazing the days away.

Lake Burera | Courtesy of Leah Feiger

Lake Ruhondo

With perfect views of Mount Gahinga, Mount Muhabura, and Mount Sabinyo, the shore of Lake Ruhondo is one of the most scenic spots in the country. Though there are currently few hotels located on Ruhondo, or at the twin lakes in general, there are plans to build more in the near future. Make sure to go for a walk through the lakeside trails, and indulge in a boat trip or two.

The twin lakes from above | Courtesy of Leah Feiger

Lake Mugesera

Located in Rwanda’s Eastern Province, Lake Mugesera makes a great day trip from Kigali. Although swimming is possible, several crocodile sightings in recent years have made the lake better enjoyed as a boating and fishing location! Regardless, Mugesera is definitely worthy of a relaxing weekend escape.