Uganda has a number of significant lakes, including Lake Victoria, Albert, Bunyonyi, Edward, Katwe, Kyoga, and George.
Uganda is part of the African Great Lakes region, with nearly a fifth of its land area covered by open water or swampland. Uganda’s lakes are vital to the country’s biodiversity and economy, but their future is jeopardized by environmental concerns.
The lakes are home to a variety of aquatic life and provide tourists with opportunities for fishing and boat cruising while viewing a variety of wildlife.
Among the significant lakes in Uganda are the following: Lake Victoria, Albert, Bunyonyi, Edward, Katwe, Kyoga, and George.
Between Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, Africa’s largest lake is nestled. Uganda occupies 45% of Lake Victoria’s 68,800 square kilometres. Along with being an adventurer’s paradise, Lake Victoria is critical to the livelihoods of millions of East Africans.
The lake, named after Queen Victoria by explorer John Hanning Speke, was a part of a local legend long before Speke’s 1858 discovery. The wildlife, archipelagos, and sheer vastness of Lake Victoria make it an essential part of any Ugandan adventure.
Lake Victoria is teeming with wildlife. Numerous mammal species inhabit the Lake Victoria region, including the hippopotamus, marsh mongoose, and giant otter shrew.
The lake is home to reptiles such as the Nile crocodile and the African helmeted turtle, as well as a variety of crustaceans, including four distinct freshwater crab species.
Lake Victoria is home to over 200 species of fish, the most abundant of which are haplochromine cichlids.
However, many species have become extinct in the last 50 years, with scientists estimating that indigenous fish species in Lake Victoria have decreased by an estimated 80%.
The Nile perch is the most infamous invasive species in Lake Victoria.
Lake Albert, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is Uganda’s second-largest lake and Africa’s seventh-largest.
The lake covers an area of 5,300 kilometres square and reaches a maximum length of 160 kilometres and a maximum width of 30 kilometres.
The wildlife on Lake Albert is diverse, ranging from African softshell turtles to Ugandan kob antelopes. There are 55 fish species in the lake, including the native Nile perch, which is an invasive species in Lake Victoria.
Lake Albert makes an excellent stopover between Murchison Falls National Park and Kampala or Entebbe. Visitors can visit the nearby fishing village and take in the breathtaking views, or head to the nearby Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve for game drives and fossil hunting.
Lake George, located in southwestern Uganda, is a shallow lake with an average depth of approximately 2.4 metres. The lake is located in the western portion of the Great Rift Valley and was named after King George V by explorer Henry M. Stanley.
Lake George covers an area of 250km2 and is fed by a variety of rivers and streams that originate in the Rwenzori Mountains.
The Kazinga Channel connects Lake George to its larger neighbour, Lake Edward. This Queen Elizabeth National Park’s 32-kilometre-long freshwater channel is a key feature. It is home to one of the highest concentrations of hippos in the world (around 2,000).
Lake George is surrounded by wetland grass, which supports a diverse range of wildlife, including more than 150 bird species. Numerous mammals call the wetlands home, including the Sitatunga antelope and elephant.
Numerous fish species, including the Nile tilapia and Haplochromis, call Lake George home, and the lake is home to several fishing villages.
Lake Edward is at the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is therefore shared by the two countries.
Lake Edward is the smallest of Africa’s Great Lakes, located just a few kilometres south of the equator on its northern shore.
Lake Mburo National Park is located in the Kiruhura District of Uganda’s Western Region, roughly halfway between Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Entebbe.
Lake Mburo (13km2) is the largest of Lake Mburo National Park’s five lakes. Along with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo is part of a 50-kilometre-long wetland system.
Lake Mburo National Park covers an area of 260km2, with wetland habitats such as lakes and marshland accounting for 20% of the park’s surface area. Additionally, the park contains diverse habitats such as grassland and acacia woodland.
Boat safaris are an excellent way to discover Lake Mburo’s wonders. A 90-minute morning boat safari along Lake Mburo’s shoreline. Buffaloes, hippos, kingfishers, fish eagles, and hammerkops may be seen by fortunate adventurers.
Lake Mutanda, at an elevation of 1,800m, offers excellent hiking trails that provide breathtaking views of the Virunga Mountains. The lake is surrounded by three extinct volcanoes: Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabyinyo, and Mount Gahinga.
The still waters of Lake Mutanda are ideal for canoeing.
Lake Bunyonyi is located in southwestern Uganda, sandwiched between Kabale (53 kilometres) and Kisoro (48 km away). Bunyonyi’s breathtaking views make it the ideal spot to unwind following gorilla trekking in the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Although the depth of the water is debatable, it is believed to reach a maximum of around 40m. Bunyonyi stretches northward for 25 kilometres and has a maximum width of 5 kilometres.
Lake Bunyonyi is one of Africa’s safest lakes. There are no crocodiles or hippos present, and no risk of contracting bilharzia. Bunyonyi translates as ‘the place of the small birds,’ and the lake is home to more than 200 species of birds.
It’s an excellent location for viewing weaver colonies, and the surrounding marshlands support a diverse array of water birds. The crowned crane, herons, and egrets are larger favourites.
Lake Kyoga, located in central Uganda, is a shallow, 129-kilometre-long lake that is a part of the African Great Lakes system. On its way from Lake Victoria to Lake Albert, the Victoria Nile passes through Lake Kyoga.
Lake Kyoga has numerous arms and a surface area of approximately 1,720km2. The lake is relatively shallow, with a maximum depth of approximately 5.7 meters.
Lake Kyoga is divided into three sections: open water with a depth greater than 3m, shallow water with water lilies, swampy shoreline with papyrus and invasive water hyacinth.
Lake Kyoga is home to 46 fish species, the majority of which are endemic. As with Lake Victoria, Lake Kyoga has suffered as a result of the 1950s introduction of the invasive Nile perch.
The Nile perch has disrupted the natural balance of Lake Kyoga’s ecosystem for several decades. Lake Kyoga is also home to the Nile crocodile, which reaches a maximum length of 5 meters.
Lake Kyoga is an excellent location for relaxing by fishing or taking a long nature walk. Nyero rock paintings are located just 12 kilometres from Lake Kyoga.
These ancient geometric paintings are one of Uganda’s most significant rock art sites, and guided tours provide insightful information.
Among the significant smaller lakes are the following: Lake Kyaninga is a Crater Lake that shares a crater field with the Fort Portal Crater field.
Lake Nyabungo is located in Central Uganda’s Masaka District.
Lake Wamala is located in central Uganda, in the districts of Mubende, Mityana, and Mpigi. Lake Bisina is located in Kumi District on the Kumi-Soroti Road.
Lake Opeta is located in the Katakwi district on the Katakwi-Magoro Road.
Lake Kwania is located in the Lira and Apac districts of Uganda’s Northern Region. Lake Nyabikere is located on Kamwenge Road, only 13 kilometres from Fort Portal.
Lake Nkugute is located in Rubirizi District along the Mbarara-Kasese Highway. Lake Saka is located in Western Uganda’s Kabarole District.
And finally, Lake Kitandra is located adjacent to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Kanungu District.