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Rusumo Falls

Rusumo Falls at high water, Rwanda
Rusumo Falls at high water / Amakuru, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  In short

The fate of Rusumo Falls seems to be decided – in a few years here will stand the dam of Rusumo Power Station. This is a pity, as these beautiful falls have a special place in the history of Rwanda.

3.8 out of 10 stars 38.3%

GPS coordinates
2.3829 S 30.7831 E
Location, address
Africa, Rwanda, Eastern Province and Tanzania, Kagera
Approximately 15 m
Approximately 40 m

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail


If compared to the large waterfalls of Africa, Rusumo Falls are not too impressive. The waterfall is up to 40 m wide and some 15 m high, with a horseshoe shape form and several cliff islands in the middle. Falls have formed on Precambrian schists and quartz phyllites.

A sequence of rapids comes after the falls and the stream drops an additional 6 m over the next 800 m.

Border river

Rusumo Falls at high water, Rwanda
Rusumo Falls at high water / FrooiOhnesorg, / CC BY-SA 2.0

The border between Tanzania and Rwanda runs along Kagera for a longer distance. Near the falls is located a bridge – one of the few places in this region where the river can be crossed. Due to this several expeditions (including the first Europeans in these surroundings in 1894) and troops have passed along the falls, changing the history of this region.

During the genocide of 1994 corpses of people flowed over the rim of falls and headed towards Uganda. Many victims were thrown into the waterfall alive.

Elimination by power plant

Rusumo Power Station is planned on the site of the waterfall since 1967. Finally, the works are moving ahead – in August 2013 World Bank approved the loan for this power plant. The planned capacity of the plant is 80 MW, it may start producing electricity by 2020.

The 15 m tall dam will be located just upstream from the falls, towering above them.

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In 1949, Rosamond Halsey Carr, a young fashion illustrator living in New York City, accompanied her dashing hunter-explorer husband to what was then the Belgian Congo. When the marriage fell apart, she decided to stay in neighboring Rwanda, as the manager of a flower plantation. Land of a Thousand Hills is Carr’s thrilling memoir of her life in Rwanda—a love affair with a country and a people that has spanned half a century.

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