After my stay at the Serena Kigali I continued my Rwanda trip at Lake Kivu and stayed at the Serena Lake Kivu resort. A couple days at the lake to unwind, rest, eat healthy, explore the nearby town of Gisenyi, visit the Lake Kivu hot springs and enjoy the amazing food at the resort. It turned out to be a heavenly stay and in this blog you can read my complete review of the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel.
From Serena Kigali to Serena Lake Kivu
While sightseeing in Kigali I asked around if someone knew someone who would be able to drive me from Kigali to Gisenyi for a good price. I got a couple offers ranging from $80 to $130 USD. I also checked the taxi app Yego and they quoted me $87 USD. As I thought the Serena Hotel would charge me an exorbitant amount at first I didn’t ask, but I thought let’s give it a shot! I was very surprised with the answer and the Serena Hotel quoted me $100 USD for the transfer from Serena Kigali to Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
I said yes to the offer and the next day I was driven from door to door by a very friendly, patient and easy going driver. The drive took about 3.5 hours although we also stopped at a really cool coffee place called Crema in Musanze/Ruhengeri for a bit.
A couple hours later I enjoyed the sunset at Lake Kivu from the private beach of the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel.
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Check-in Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
My check in was very smooth and took just 3 minutes. I had to sign some papers, give my passport for a copy and in the meantime I was served a fresh passion fruit juice as a welcome drink.
The first night I was given room 23 on the ground floor. It was down the hallway on the left hand side. This room had a patio with garden view with only a little covered lake view and no pool view. The room was lovely with enough space to open my big suitcase and a bathroom with a bathtub.
Although not complaining about my first night, the other 2 nights I stayed in a suite. It was room no. 26. It was the last room down the hallway on the righthand side. The suite had a living room, a spacious bedroom, a big bathroom and an extra toilet.
As the suite was located on the right side of the hallway the suite had views over Lake Tanganyika, the gardens and the pool. Amazing views to wake up with. Also from the patio you could walk straight to the pool and the beach.
This was a great room upgrade and very much worth it. Also the bed in the suite was bigger and had a mosquito net, in the standard room there was no mosquito net.
Compliments for the chefs
As part of my hotel booking all meals were included: breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a great choice and totally worth it. It allowed me to enjoy the resort to the fullest as I never had to leave Serena Lake Kivu and look for a nearby place to eat.
I just had to go upstairs to the restaurant, which had great views overlooking the pool and Lake Tanganyika.
Breakfast was buffet style with loads of warm dishes to choose from and a live cooking station where you could order your eggs any style, pancakes, waffles, etc. I am a big fan of luxury hotel breakfast, but when a hotel offers multiple juices, lots of fresh cut fruits and a bunch of healthy food options it makes me very happy! Breakfast was simply amazing and I enjoyed it every day for a couple hours.
Coffee was served on order from a proper coffee machine and there were may be more than 10 different fresh juices available.
For lunch you could choose from a lot of hot meals and there was always the salad bar and the fresh fruits for the healthy options.
Dinner was also buffet style, but every night there was a different theme. So one night there was a barbecue station added, the other night it was pasta night and I very much enjoyed the wok night where you could create your own plates full of seafood, vegetables, meat and your choice of sauce and spices and it was cooked for you in a big stir fry pan.
Being in a holiday mood I also booked a massage at Serena Lake Kivu, especially when I saw the prices. For a luxury hotel I think the prices were especially affordable. My 90 minutes deep tissue massage was just $42 USD. There is no separate wellness at the Serena Lake Kivu and the massage rooms are located in a converted hotel room. It is very spacious and all professional equipment was there for facials, etc.
My massage was sincerely heavenly and the professional masseuse was not only powerful, but she also really knew what she was doing. Big thumbs up! When staying at the Serena Lake Kivu I would definitely recommend you to book a massage.
Boat tour Lake Kivu
If you are looking to do something cool and want to explore Lake Kivu a little bit then book a boat tour through reception.
They can arrange a boat tour for you at the lake and you will get to see the Congo DRC border, the gas platform in the middle of the lake and a drive along the coast and the nearby beach clubs.
I am sure you will be chilling at the Serena Lake Kivu beach as it is a perfect spot to unwind. There are only a couple beach loungers and it is never really busy. Serenity is the keyword here, a great spot to watch the sunset.
However, if you are looking for a little more action there are a couple lively beach clubs within walking distance from hotel Serena Lake Kivu. A popular one is Little Paris Beach with super cool local vibes, a small private beach where you can sip cocktails for sunset and some high chairs for if you want to grab food.
A new beach club in Gisenyi is Saga, a little more fancier than Little Paris Beach and the one the locals all talk about.
Both beach clubs are within 10 minutes walk from the Serena Lake Kivu. It is very safe to walk around Gisenyi, so even after you had a couple drinks in the evening you can just walk back or take a 3 minute taxi or motorbike.
Hot Springs Nyamyumba
The number 1 thing to do when staying at Serena Lake Kivu is visiting the hot springs near the town of Nyamyumba. I decided to walk along the coast and it took me a little over 2 hours. A great walk with some amazing views of Lake Tanganyika. There is a 2,000 RWF ($2 USD) entrance fee for the hot springs.
It is a very simple place and there are no changing rooms as far as I saw. The hot springs are located directly next to the lake and there are 2 pools created with sand bags. So if the hot spring pool is getting too hot you can jump over the sand bags and take a swim in Lake Tanganyika to cool down.
The local guys will try to sell you mud massages and you have the opportunity to get buried in mud for as long as you feel like. The activities are optional and there is an extra charge. You can negotiate with the guys. I wanted to see what it was like to get myself buried in mud and paid the guys 4,000 RWF ($4 USD).
It was totally worth it and good fun! But don’t expect anything like a proper mud bath or wellness service levels. Despite it being a great experience and definitely one of the best things to do at Lake Kivu it felt more like cement than mud! :)
On the way back I jumped on a motorbike, which took me just 10 minutes to drop me back at Lake Kivu Serena Hotel.
Coffee Shop Migano Gisenyi
If you want to go for a walk in the area and may be walk towards the Congo DRC border, which is just 25 minutes away from Serena Lake Kivu, stop by Migano Cafe Rubavu. A lovely coffee place, that serves good coffees and has a full on menu for some delicious treats as well. Worth visiting when roaming around. They also serve alcohol if you are craving a drink.
Getting around Gisenyi
The Serena Lake Kivu will probably never advice its guests to hop on the back of a motorbike and that is why I do it. I understand I am not your average traveler and more like an adventurer, but I have traveled all over Africa on a motorbike and never anything happened. If there is one place in Africa where it is safe to travel by motorbike then it is Rwanda!
Review Lake Kivu Serena Hotel
All in all my stay at Serena Lake Kivu was heavenly. In total I stayed 3 nights in and between Serena Kigali and my gorilla trekking at Volcanoes National Park and it was an incredible break from traveling. Lake Kivu to me is serenity and the Serena Lake Kivu resort totally lives up to those expectations.
Waking up overlooking the calm Lake Kivu sipping my freshly brewed espresso gave me pure holiday feelings. The amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner at the resort is worth staying on property for and don’t forget to book a massage.
Check out the rates of the Serena Lake Kivu below and see if they have availability for your dates.
May you have any questions about staying at the Lake Kivu Serena Hotel then please leave me a comment below. Questions about traveling to Gisenyi, Lake Kivu and Rwanda in general are also more than welcome!
Enjoy your trip to Rwanda!