Destination Kivu Belt

The Swimming Cows Experience

Activity Description

The farmers around Karongi use the islands as grazing pasture for their cattle. They do not transport the cows there by boat but rather let the cows swim there. In this experience you will join the cattle and their herdsmen as they herd their swimming cows from one island to another in a dugout canoe.

Those who have visited Rwanda’s Royal Palace in Nyanza will know of Rwanda’s history and special bond with cows. The swimming cows experience is a very unique experience which you are unlikely to encounter elsewhere but is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.

You will start the day by being picked up in one of the cooperatives tour boats and head out into the archipelago outside Karongi. The landscape is breathtaking and the many green islands outside Karongi give the area a very beautiful and tropical feeling. Once you reach the island where the cows are kept at the moment, the herdsmen will start to usher the cows into the water. From the comfort of the boat you watch as the herdsmen herd the swimming cows in their dugout canoes towards another island. The tour ends once the cows have safely reached the destined island.

About the Organizer

COTRALAKI is a Transport Cooperative on Lake Kivu located in Karongi. The cooperative is made up of individual members  who have brought their boats together to provide tours and activities to visitors to Karongi and the surrounding areas. The cooperative offer a range of different boat tours including guided boat tours to various islands such as Napoleon Island and with a visit to the fruit bat colony and a hike to the top. The cooperative also organizes the famous night fishing experience and some unique tours such as the ‘swimming cows’ where visitors can accompany the farmers as they move cows from one island to another. The cooperative is very well organized and have a booking office in Karongi close to the Museum of Environment.

Before you go

  • It might be a bit chilly in the morning, bring a light jacket or a sweater
  • The tour boat has a roof in case of rain
  • Your guide will meet you with the boat at any location on the water front around Karongi. Be sure to communicate this at booking

From 30,000 RWF


  • Join the herdsmen as they move their cattle from one island to another
  • Watch a herd of cows swim in Lake Kivu


More information

Contact the organizer


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