Lake Kivu is one of the might lakes of Africa that is situated on the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the western arm of the east African Albertine rift valley.  Lake Kivu flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika and located 40 kilometers from Bukavu town of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Geography of Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is ranked among the eighth largest lakes in Africa and covers an approximate total surface area of about 2700 square kilometers; it has length of about 90 kilometers and width of about 50 kilometers covering altitude of about 1460 meters above sea level. Lake Kivu has an esteemed average depth of about 475 meters and minimum depth of 220 meters. The Democratic republic of Congo takes up the largest percent of Lake Kivu portion that lies with the borders of the country and the lake bottom lies within the rift valley however due to the forces of tension and comprehension forces, they have given chance to the volcanic activities that take place within the area.

Lake Kivu harbors the world’s tenth island known as Idjwi which is an archipelago with Lake Kivu. Idjwi Island is a geography property within the Lake Kivu that belongs to the Democratic Republic of Congo and it has been counted among the kivu province. It covers an area of about 340 square kilometer, it is about 70 kilometers long and the island has been ranked as Africa’s second largest inland island.

Lake Kivu also borders Virunga national park that is famous for the mountain gorilla experience and the lake is surround by areas such as Bukavu town, Goma, Kabare, Sake, Kalehe, Cyangugu in Rwanda, and Gisenyi among others.

Bukavu town is one of the gorgeous cities in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that lies on the western edges of Lake Kivu and borders west Cyangugu of Rwanda. Historically the town was occupied by Bushi kingdom which is the ethnic group of southern kivu province later the town was named Bukavu which is a local name to meaning farm of cows.

Bukavu town experiences a sub-tropical climate and it is strategically located near to river Rusizi which attracted the colonial population in consideration to the scenic location of Lake Kivu. Bukavu has been established on five peninsulas or fingers and the city was the previous administrative town for kivu province although the city lost its popularity due to the growth of Goma town. The five peninsulas stretch towards Lake Kivu and Bukavu city is separated by river Rusizi from Rwanda.

Why visit Bukavu town.

Bukavu town is 40 kilometer to Kahuzi Biega national park thus it can act hub to travelers who would like to enjoy trekking eastern lowland gorillas due the fact that it is close to the park. Bukavu town is home to the a wide range of accommodation safari lodges which travelers visiting Kahuzi Biega national park for the gorilla trekking experiences can use on a safari such the Coco lodge, lakeside hotel Bukavu, exodus Bukavu lodge among other lodges.

Travelers can base in kivu town to explorer the Lake Kivu which is second largest lake in DR Congo and it is home to Inland Islands known as Idjwi Island which offers scenic beauties to all travelers that visit Bukavu town. Travelers staying in Bukavu town can as well enjoy kayaking adventure experiences on the five peninsulas stretching to Lake Kivu.

In synopsis, there are three top attractions in Bukavu town such as Kahuzi Biega national park which famous home to the eastern lowland gorillas in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the gorgeous and exciting lake kivu that harbors Idjwi inland island in DR-Congo as well as Vacation rental/accommodation facilities in Auckland although the town also a lot offer on a safari to DR-Congo.

Tchegera Island – One of the places you need to include on your tour to DRC is Tchegera Island. It is a good site for relaxation after the adventurous activities of the national parks. Tchegera Island is situated in DRC on a ridge of a collapsed caldera in the waters of Lake Kivu. In the North of Lake Kivu, it is well located for viewing Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira volcanoes in the night when the red glow from the lava lakes turn the sky red. It also gives spectacular views of the surrounding environment. It is also a home to a variety of bird species and therefore bird lovers will still be catered for.

You can organize for a 2 days tour can be organized to Tchegera island or combine it with a safari to Virunga national park.

How to access Tchegera Island

The island can be accessed by hiring a virunga boat, a private boat or a kayak. The main ports to get a boat to the island are Goma port and Kituku port. It takes about 20 minutes from Goma to Tchegera Island. From Tchegera Island back to Goma, the boat sets off at 7:30am.

Accommodation at the island – Tchegera Island tented Camp

There are 10 tents at the camp that accommodate guests to the Island, well contained with bathrooms and flushing toilets and running water. It is powered with solar and a generator. The views of the red sky due to Nyiragongo volcano molten fire is featured by the camp fire made in the evening at the camp. There is a full restaurant with where you’ll enjoy some of the best dishes and a bar with all lots of drinks alogside Wi-Fi connection to keep you connected to your people.

Accommodation rates for Tchegera Island tents

Single           US$168

Double         US$226

Twin             US$226

Accommodation reservations include breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Activities at Tchegera tented camp

  • Bird watching
  • Paddle boarding and kayaking
  • Nature walk/Guided bush walk
  • Snorkeling
  • Scenic and Sunset viewing

Wildlife at the island

Wildlife at Tchegera is blue monkey and birds including cormorants, African fish eagle and many others.


Chimpanzee Habituation in Virunga – The tropical rain forests, savannah woodland and grassland forests at the slopes and bottom of the Virunga volcanoes in Democratic republic of Congo are a home to 3 great apes; mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. They are among the main attractions in the wilderness of DRC. There are however other primates like red-tailed monkeys, De Brazzas monkey, golden monkey, blue monkey, baboons and more.

Chimpanzees are said to be the closest realties to humans with an estimated percentage of 98ofhuman genes. They walk on their four limb s but are capable of walking on legs alone for about a kilometer. Chimps have subspecies which are identified basing on their appearances and distribution; eastern chimps, Western chimp, central chimps and Nigeria-Cameroon chimps. They also live in groups of up to 80 members with a dominant male as the leader of the group. They can be spotted up in the trees or on the ground, though they nights are spent in nests up in the trees.

After a gestation period of 202-261 days, chimps give birth to a single though they may have twins occasionally. These primates feed on leaves, fruits, branches and some insects. They obtain their food from the forests where they live. In case of a chance to hunt for small animal spotted, they feed on meat as well.

Currently, the chimpanzees in Virunga national park are only habituated and this is an exciting and great activity for tourists that visit the park. Chimps in this park are found in Rumangabo sector in Mahura forest.

Chimpanzee habituation was started by Frankfurt Zoologist in 1987. He created a trail of 80km in Tongo forest and started on the 2 year activity to make these primates become familiar to people. In 1989, there were more than 50 chimps that had been habituated and available for tourists to visit. However, a few years later, the region suffered civil unrest and chimp habituation, Chimpanzee trekking and other tourism activities could not go on.

When the region settled from civil unrest in 2014, the team that had been trained by the mogul Frankfurt Zoologist society resumed the habituation activity. The guides of Virunga national park in Rumangabo penetrate into the forest daily at 4:30am to find where the chimps spent their nights, and at 6:00am, guests are also led to these locations. Guests who book Mikeno lodge and Bukina tented camp for accommodation have a more advantage to go for Chimp trekking at Rumangabo sector. Only 4 people are allowed to visit the gorilla family since there are few spots for habituating.  When you spot them, you’ll spend only one hour to learn about and interact with the chimps. A chimpanzee habituation permit costs US$100 for each individual.

Besides viewing chimps, guests can as well visit the Chimpanzee Resource Centre in Tongo. You’ll get to know more about the habituation project and how the local community is participating in conservation and protection of the wildlife. Hiking to Tongo River would be a good additional activity for you to explore more of the virgin destinations of Virunga.

Visiting Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage  center

Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center – Virunga national park boasts for hosting the only gorilla orphanage center in the whole world. Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center was started to take care of the orphaned gorillas that were rescued from poachers who had killed others.

In 2007, 4 members including a silverback named Senkwekwe from Rugendo gorilla group were killed leaving 2 orphans Ndakasi and Ndeze who led to establbishment of the center. The orphanage was named after Senkwekwe because he was the leader of the gorilla group. The center is located in Rumangabo at the Virunga national park headquarters a few metres from Mikeno lodge. It wasset up in 2010 after an online campaign had been handled about how to help these gorillas and US$211,000 was collected from different people and organizations for purposes to push the cause.

At the orphanage centre, there are well trained caretakers, veterinary doctors and other staff that make up a great team which fully takes care of the orphans. Each orphan has their care takers who feed them and offer all other help. They will lead you to have an awesome time with these gorillas, interacting with them, learning their behaviors, taking photos, viewing them. This is a perfect time worth travelling to the wild.

Since the opening of Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center, 6 orphaned gorillas have lived there; Ndakasi, Ndeze,Maisha, Yalala, Koboko and Matabishi. The center also has some lowland gorillas that were rescued from Kahuzi Biega and Bukavu.

A visit to Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage centre gives a chance to closely have an exceptional interaction with these mountain gorillas whose behaviors are quite different from those in the wild. Booking for your visit to Senkwekwe are made at Mikeno lodge.

Accommodation close to Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center

Mikeno lodge

Bukima camp

Hotels in Goma: Ihusi hotel

Visit the Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage center in Virunga National Park in Congo

Facts about Virunga Mountains – Virunga mountains also known as Virunga mountain ranges are situated three countries of east Africa and they been protected under one world heritage site to form the Virunga conservation massif. The Virunga Mountains stretches its boundaries in the countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountains bases lies with the Albertine rift valley, lake albert as well as lake kivu.

Some of the impacts about Virunga Mountains include;

 Virunga Mountains are 8 volcano chains that is only found in east Africa along the branch of the Albertine rift valley. Most of Virunga Mountains are dormant volcanoes exception of mount Nyiragongo, mount Nyamuragira which all situated in Virunga national park in eastern republic of Congo., other Virunga mount mountains include mount. Gahinga and mount Mahabura in Mgahinga national park of Uganda, mount Mikeno in Virunga national park, mount Sabinyo in volcano national park of Rwanda, mount Karisimbi and mount Bisoke.

Among the 8 Virunga mountains, mount Karisimbi is the highest volcano and stands at an elevation of 4507 meters, mount Sabinyo is the oldest mountain and mount Nyamuragira is the most active with last eruption in 2010 followed by mount Nyiragongo with its last eruption in 2006 and it is most trekked among the 8 mountains.

The Virunga mountains harbors the remaining rare and endangered mountain gorillas in the world which is one of the great attraction and great wonders of the world that attracts a lot of travelers who come to Africa. Thus the Virunga Mountains are famous destinations for not only mountain hiking but as well as the lifetime gorilla trekking adventure experience which is extremely exciting to all travelers that engage in the activity.

A Virunga visa is a legal travel document that travelers who are foreign nonresidents must pose so as to be allowed to explore Virunga national park. A Virunga visa is categorized among the tourist visa that will give travelers permission to go through or explore Virunga national park. Before authorities issue out the Virunga visa they have the mandate to know exactly what you are going to do in Virunga national park and which accommodation safety for period you will spend in Virunga national park, this is for security reasons due to fact that country has been unstable for quite some time thus they have improved on the safety and security that is why the immigration offices will always ask travelers such questions.

Travelers can apply the Virunga visa via the Democratic Republic of Congo embassy offices in your country. Travelers ought to apply for the Virunga visa 2 weeks before travel due to the fact that processing time is between 7 to 5 days from the time the traveler has applied for the visa.

The application procedure will require travelers to present two colored passport sized photos in black and white background and the photos should be of recent appearance. When applying for the Virunga visa travelers should have a valid passport which is 6 months old before applying for the visa

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is a must requirement while applying for Virunga visa regardless whether the person has a yellow fever or not. The cost of a Virunga visa is about 100 USD and it can easily be issued if the travelers have booked activity or accommodation in Virunga national park. For travelers who are American citizens the visa lasts for 6 months which is equivalent to 180 days.

Where is Virunga national park? – Virunga national park which is the oldest national park in Africa is situated in north eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and lies within the Albertine rift valley arm of East Africa. The park is the world heritage site that is located in the northern shores of Lake Kivu a few distances from Goma town.

Visiting Virunga national park is an extremely interesting trip as travelers will get an opportunity to enjoy a wide range of holiday safari activities such as the great mountain gorilla trekking experiences, the chimpanzee trekking, golden monkey trekking, and mountain hiking among other activities.

Travelers can access Virunga national park through road transport or air transport depending on traveler’s budget. On road transport, from Goma town it is about 45 minutes covering a distance of about 35 kilometers before you the park. From Rwanda to Virunga national park, travelers will have to go through Gisenyi town then proceed to Goma town then later proceed to Virunga national park.

On air transport, there are many airlines that operate domestic flights in the democratic republic of Congo such as Ethiopia airlines that has scheduled flights to Goma town which is the nearest town to Virunga national park.

These 5 facts about Virunga national park give travelers knowledge / key points about Virunga national park which was initially called Albert national park due to the fact that it was founded by king Albert 1 of Belgium. Several facts that travelers need to know about Virunga national park of the democratic republic of Congo such as;

Oldest national park in Africa, Virunga national park was the first national park to be established in 1925 by king albert of Belgium  and initially the park was well managed, poaching and hunting of wildlife was under control. However due the political instabilities, Virunga national together with its unique wildlife was affected thus leading to decline of the park until of resent when the park was closed and reopened to boost gorilla tourism. The main focus of protecting the unique endangered mountain gorilla species plus other rare wildlife.

Virunga national park harbors some of the remaining percentage of the mountain gorillas in the world. This is the most common and famous primate species that attracts a lot of travelers all over the world. The park is home to over 500 mountain gorilla population with 8 habituated families that are open for tourism throughout the year.  Virunga national park is dominated thick tropical rainforests and mountain gorillas are surviving in the high altitude areas of the park.

Virunga is famous home for unique wildlife, besides the endangered mountain gorillas in Virunga national park there is a lot of unique wildlife species that travelers will enjoy when they visit the park and this  wildlife is hard to found elsewhere such as the forest elephants which Rae smaller than the savannah elephants, the forest antelopes though they have been  depleted by poachers as well as being hunter for bush meat, forest zebras, forest giraffes among other unique wildlife.

Virunga national park is famous destination to spot 3 primate apes such as the endangered mountain gorillas, the chimpanzees, as well as the monkeys such as the golden monkeys, white and black monkeys, red tailed monkeys among others. Therefore when travelers visit Virunga national park they have a wide range of activities that will offer lifetime dream experience in the jungle.

Virunga national park has been ranked as one of the richest world heritage sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo that is rich in abundant ecological biodiversity, rich in birdlife, and plant species about 1000 such as papyrus sedge, among others. Virunga national park is as well rich in natural minerals such as gold, oil, uranium among others thus making the great destination to enjoy on a holiday safari.

Virunga national park is home to three Virunga volcano mountains such as mount Mikeno which is a dormant volcano, mount Nyiragongo which is an active volcano plus mount Nyamulagira which is the most active volcano that last erupted in 2011. These have offer exciting adventure activities to travelers who are interested in hiking

Virunga Volcano Hike – Hiking the Virunga Mountains is one of the most exciting activity that is enjoyed by a number of travelers after the extremely fascinating and exception lifetime gorilla trekking experience in the respective national park where they are situated. The Virunga Volcano Mountains are situated in three African countries that share a portion of the Virunga volcano conservation massif such as in Mgahinga national park found in the south western region of Uganda, Virunga national park in the southern democratic republic of Congo plus volcanoes national park that is situated Rwanda. These mountains are famous and popular homes to the critically endangered mountain gorilla species in Africa.

Hiking Mount Nyiragongo, this is one of the most visited volcanic mountains that is situated in Virunga national park in the democratic republic of Congo. The mountain last erupted in 2002 but it still hosts a lot to travelers interested in hiking. A hike to mount Nyiragongo offers travelers insight to enjoy the scenic beauty of the boiling lava lake, scenic views of Virunga national park from above.

Hiking mount Mikeno, the mountain is situated in the Democratic Republic Congo in Virunga national and it is a dormant volcano mountain that stands on 4437 meters above sea level. Hiking mount Mikeno offers travelers an opportunity to enjoy viewing Virunga national park and its wildlife such as mountain gorilla that travelers will encounter while hiking as well as other wildlife animals.

Mount Sabinyo, this is shared by three country by Rwanda, Uganda, democratic republic of Congo although the mountain can be hiked from Uganda in Mgahinga national park. The hiking Sabinyo will you have an insight to encounter with the golden monkeys at slopes of the mountain as you go through the tropical rainforests.

Mount Gahinga, it is the smallest mountain found in Mgahinga national park in Uganda and it is 3474 meters with dominated by the bamboo and an afro montane forests. Hiking mountain Gahinga offers travelers an opportunity to enjoy encountering with mountain gorillas as well the golden monkeys.

Hiking mount Mahabura, this is hiked from Uganda in Mgahinga gorilla national park although the mountain borders Rwanda. Mount Mahabura offers exciting scenic beauty to surround lakes of Ruhondo plus Burera. When travelers reach at summit of the mount they will enjoy beauty of the wonderful Crater Lake as well as the incredible unique vegetation cover.