Landlocked Rwanda may be a long way from the ocean, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a beach holiday here. On the contrary, if you take another look at the map, you will quickly realize that Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo runs along the entire length of Lake Kivu.

One of the Great Lakes in the Albertine Rift Valley, Lake Kivu has maximum depth of nearly 500m and is one of the 20 deepest and most voluminous lakes in the world. Of course, most travelers in Gisenyi are perfectly content to stick to the shores, especially since they are surprisingly sandy and fringed with all manner of tropical vegetation.

While landscaped villas and private clubs, the town itself projects a languid air of some forgotten upcountry backwater. But this is precisely the low-key charm that lures an electric mix of rich Rwandans, expat escapees and independent travelers. Gisenyi is roughly divided into upper and lower towns, with most tourist services clustered around the lower tourist services clustered around the lower end along the shores of Lake Kivu.

Accommodation in Gisenyi

Paradise Malahide

This is located along the shores of Rubona Peninsula just south of Gisenyi; this lodge continues to get wonderful reviews from loyal guests. Accommodation is in stone bungalow scattered around a small bar and restaurant, but the highlight of the property is clearly the stunning lakeside location.

Stipp Hotel

Preferring intimacy to opulence, the Stipp is home to a small assortment of individually decorated rooms, striking an ideal blend of colonial elegance and modern convenience. Where you are soaking in the enormous bathtubs, strolling around the lush garden or dining in one of the town’s best restaurant, you are sure to have a relaxing stay here.

Gorilla Lake Kivu Hotel 

Part of the gorilla chain, this hotel has more of a resort feel than its sisters elsewhere in Rwanda, largely thanks to the big phallic-shaped, swimming pool. The rooms themselves are plain and sturdy and good value for those after something approaching luxury.

Lake Kivu Serena Hotel

The lake Kivu Serena brims with refined luxury from the grand colonial dining rooms to the manicured grounds. The Serena has a stunner of a swimming pool, a slice of prime beachfront real estate and the best rooms in the area.