Lake Burera and Lake Ruhondo are twin lakes located in the northern part of Rwanda, in the Musanze district. They are part of the Virunga volcanic chain and are situated close to the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These lakes hold significant ecological, economic, and cultural importance for the region.
- Lake Burera is the larger of the twin lakes, covering an area of approximately 130 square kilometers.
- It is situated at an altitude of about 1,504 meters above sea level and is surrounded by steep hills.
- The lake was formed in a volcanic caldera, created millions of years ago by tectonic activity and volcanic eruptions.
Lake Burera is known for its clear waters and rich biodiversity, housing various species of fish, including tilapia and mudfish. The surrounding area consists of fertile land that supports agriculture, primarily farming of crops like potatoes, beans, and maize.
Fishing is a significant economic activity for communities living around Lake Burera. Many rely on the lake’s resources for sustenance and income generation. Agriculture is also prevalent in the region due to the fertile soils around the lake, contributing to the local economy.
- Lake Ruhondo is smaller compared to Lake Burera, covering an area of around 23 square kilometers.
- Situated at an altitude of about 1,260 meters above sea level, Lake Ruhondo is also nestled within volcanic terrain.
Like its twin, Lake Ruhondo boasts clear waters and supports diverse aquatic life, including several species of fish. The area around the lake is lush and green, with vegetation thriving due to the fertile soils.
Fishing is a primary occupation for the communities residing around Lake Ruhondo, contributing to their livelihoods. Agriculture is another vital economic activity, with locals cultivating crops on the fertile land adjacent to the lake.
How to access these lakes
- From Kigali-Rwanda’s capital: The most common route is to travel by road from Kigali to Musanze. The journey takes about 2-3 hours by car or bus, covering a distance of approximately 90 kilometers.
- Public Transportation: Buses and minibuses locally known as “taxis” operate between Kigali and Musanze regularly. Once in Musanze, taxis or motorcycles can be hired to reach the lakes.
Activities at the twin lakes Burera and Ruhondo
Boat tours on Burera and Ruhondo Lakes offer an immersive experience into Rwanda’s natural beauty. Typically led by local fishermen, these tours allow you to glide across the serene waters in traditional wooden boats, absorbing stunning views of the surrounding hills and landscapes. Guides share insights into local fishing techniques and cultural significance while navigating the tranquil waters. Visitors can witness daily life on the lakes, observing fishermen at work and enjoying a peaceful atmosphere. These tours, often customizable in duration, provide an intimate connection with the lakes and their surroundings, making for an unforgettable exploration of Rwanda’s twin gems.
Fishing: Fishing at Burera and Ruhondo Lakes offers a chance to engage with local fishing traditions. Visitors can try their hand at catching tilapia and other native fish species under the guidance of experienced local fishermen. Both lakes teem with diverse aquatic life, providing a rewarding experience for anglers. Fishing equipment and boats are often available for rent, allowing visitors to explore the rich fishing grounds. The serene ambiance and picturesque surroundings create an idyllic setting for a relaxing fishing excursion. It is advisable to check local regulations and acquire necessary permits before engaging in fishing activities at these lakes.
Hiking and Nature walks: Hiking and nature walks around Burera and Ruhondo Lakes offer breathtaking vistas of Rwanda’s scenic landscapes. Trails weaving through lush hillsides provide opportunities to explore the surrounding villages, offering glimpses into local life and culture. Trekking paths lead to panoramic viewpoints, allowing hikers to marvel at the lakes’ azure waters nestled amidst verdant hills. These trails cater to various skill levels, accommodating both leisurely strolls and hikes that are more challenging. Birdwatchers can revel in the diverse avian species inhabiting the lakeside areas. Local guides are available for insights into the region’s ecology, making these hikes an immersive and enriching experience amid Rwanda’s natural beauty.
Burera and Ruhondo Lakes are havens for birdwatchers, boasting a rich diversity of avian life. Visitors can spot a variety of species, including kingfishers, herons, egrets, and numerous waterfowl in their natural habitats along the lakeshores. The serene ambiance and lush surroundings create an ideal environment for observing and photographing these vibrant birds. Early mornings or late afternoons offer prime viewing opportunities as the birds engage in their daily activities. Local guides often accompany birdwatchers, sharing insights into the unique behaviors and habitats of the numerous species that inhabit the lakeside, enhancing the experience of exploring Rwanda’s avian wonders.
Accommodation facilities available nearby
Luxury options: Luxury accommodation options around Lakes Burera and Ruhondo offer stunning views, comfort, and immersive experiences amidst Rwanda’s beautiful landscapes. Some of these include; Virunga lodge, Amakoro Lodge, Bisate lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel.
Mid-range options: Mid-range accommodations around Lakes Burera and Ruhondo offer comfortable stays with a balance between affordability and quality experiences. Here are a few examples; Muhabura Hotel, La Locanda Hotel, Gorillas Volcanoes Hotel, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge.
In conclusion, both lakes, Burera and Ruhondo, contribute significantly to the local economy, ecology, and cultural heritage of the region. They attract visitors seeking natural beauty and offer insights into the lifestyles and traditions of the communities that call these areas home.