Exploding Lake Kivu (and Friends)

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Gisenyi, Rwanda

Exploding Lake Kivu (and Friends) Gisenyi Reviews

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Exploding Lake Kivu (and Friends) Mar 11, 2017
Lake Kivu in East Africa is a killer. It is also THE beach resort in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The shores of Lake Kivu are beautiful with white sand beaches in Gisenyi (Rwanda), rolling green hills nearby and even dramatic mountains overlooking it from the DRC side. On

a clear day or hour it’s beautiful. Don’t let that beautiful view fool you. Kivu is one of only 3 EXPLODING LAKES in the world. The other 2 have cause carnage in Cameroon (Lake Nyos and Lake Monoun) by exploding and gassing hundreds of people. The overall death toll on Lake Kivu is a lot

less, but just make sure it’s not you. Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes and the only one of the 3 you are likely to have a beach holiday on. So just remember that before you decide to go off and swim or boat in some secluded place while visiting the Lake Kivu area.

The problem is that Kivu sits on top of huge pockets of Methane gas and Carbon Dioxide. Both are lethal. The geological term for this is ‘Mazuku’ meaning ‘Evil Wind’ in Swahili. Invisible Carbon Dioxide released in large amounts stays near the ground and kills every living thing there. Tie that in with the visible volcanic activity of Mt. Nyiragongo and lava pouring into the lake (in 2002) and you can understand why the lake has killed everything that lives in it. Twice. This was thousands of years ago, but larger pockets of escaping gas in some parts of the lake can suffocate an unsuspecting swimmer or boater.

Stay in clearly marked areas or only swim where locals do. It’s not all bad. The visible structure in the lake (pictured) collects the Methane which is used in the production of electricity supplying Rwanda. Its currently being expanded to provide export revenue by supplying electricity to neighbouring countries. The Primus Brewery right on the lake has used the Methane for years to supply turbines used in making their fabulous beer!

If you are a fisherman, forget Lake Kivu though. The high gas content in the water keeps the fish very

small. All the ones I saw in the fish market were either small or absolutely tiny.

Please note: My photos are from both the Rwanda and DRC sides of the lake.
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photo by: ulis