Lake Kivu is the largest of numerous freshwater bodies that shimmer in the valleys of Rwanda. Lakes Burera and Ruhondo, close to the gorilla-tracking centre of Ruhengeri, are oft-neglected gems, deep blue waters ringed by steep hills and tall waterfalls, with the nearby Virunga Volcanoes providing a spectacular backdrop.
Away from the main resorts, Rwanda's lakes offer visitors rewarding glimpses into ancient African lifestyles. Here, fishermen ply the water in dugout canoes unchanged in design for centuries, while colourfully dressed ladies smoke traditional wooden pipes and troubadours strum sweetly on stringed iningire (traditional 'guitars'). And, the birdlife is fantastic: flotillas of pelicans sail ponderously across the open water, majestic crowned cranes preen their golden crests in the surrounding swamps, while jewel-like malachite kingfishers hawk silently above the shore.