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Visiting the Rivers of Uganda
There are numerous freshwater bodies in Uganda, including rivers, which could be harnessed to generate electricity and positively impact tourism. PHOTO/NATURAL WORLD SAFARIS

Uganda boasts a number of freshwater bodies, including rivers, which are capable of generating electricity and facilitating marine-based tourism.

Uganda is blessed with numerous freshwater bodies, including rivers, which have the potential to generate electricity and support marine-based tourism.

Uganda’s major rivers include the following: 

River Nile

It flows from the south to the north and empties into the Mediterranean Sea, making it the longest river in the world. PHOTO/UGANDA TOURISM CENTRE

Several Greek and Arab scientists and explorers had demonstrated an interest in locating the source of the Nile for over two centuries (before the 17th century). 

Though they were aware of several waterfalls in Uganda, snow-capped mountain ranges, and a variety of other incredible Ugandan scenery, none of them had come across anything that appeared to be the source of the mighty river.

In the late nineteenth century, two British explorers, Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke clashed over the same issue of the Nile’s source.

John Hanning Speke had the opportunity to explore the southern part of Uganda thanks to a few privileges from African Kingdom partnerships such as Buganda. 

He visited several areas of southern Uganda during his adventure, which at the time were teeming with wild animals, primarily antelopes and big cats.

Finding rhinos, buffaloes, giraffes, and kobs, among other animals, in the dense impenetrable forests and swamps of southern Uganda prompted John Speke to coin one of Uganda’s most well-known phrases, “The Pearl of Africa.”

With his explorer instincts, John Speke continued his quest for the Nile’s source, which he later discovered from a vantage point above Lake Victoria, when he noticed a difference in the water flow within the same Lake as if some water was gushing outward directly from the Lake.

The Nile is the longest river in the world, flowing from south to north and emptying into the Mediterranean Sea. 

Although the source of the Nile is still debated, facts indicate that other water sources other than Lake Victoria contribute only a minor amount, with the majority coming from the mouth of Lake Victoria.

The mighty Nile River is Mother Nature’s masterpiece and a must-see tourist attraction. With its origins in Jinja, this section of the Nile offers some of the best white water rafting. 

It then changes names (Victoria Nile and Albert Nile) as it makes its way through Southern Sudan and into Egypt, passing through some of the most beautiful scenery in Uganda.

The Victoria Nile starts from mighty Lake Victoria and flows northwest into Lake Kyoga before emptying into Lake Albert. It then becomes the Albert Nile, flowing through Southern Sudan and into Egypt, where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

Uganda is blessed with some of the best falls in the world as a result of the Nile, including Murchison and Aruu falls, among several other once-in-a-lifetime worthwhile destinations.

River Kagera

The Kagera River, the biggest river in Uganda, is shared by three other countries: Rwanda, Burundi, and Rwanda. The River Ruvubu, which originates in Burundi, feeds the River Kagera.

The Kagera River flows through Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda for a total of 249 miles (400 kilometres). The river originates in Burundi, where it flows out of Lake Rweru. 

The river then flows east, crossing the borders of Burundi and Rwanda, as well as Rwanda and Tanzania. 

The Kagera then joins the Ruvubu River and flows north, passing through Rwanda and Burundi before entering Uganda and finally reaching its mouth at Lake Victoria, where it is the largest inflow of water into the lake. 

During the atrocious 1994 Rwandan Genocide, bodies were dumped into a river that eventually ended up in Uganda’s Lake Victoria, creating a major health hazard for the country’s residents.

River Kafu

The River Kafu is another of Uganda’s rivers that flow into the Victoria Nile in western Uganda. The Kafu River is 112 miles (180 kilometres) long and is Uganda’s second-longest river entirely contained within Uganda. 

The river originates in the Kitoma Swamp in the Kibaale District and flows east before turning north to reach its mouth at the Victorian Nile River near the Masindi District town of Masindi Port. 

Because the river originates in the Kitoma Swamp, it contributes to the survival of wildlife and a variety of animals in the swamp and along its path.

Victoria Nile

The Victoria Nile
The Victoria Nile

For a long time, the mighty Lake Victoria was believed to be the source of the Nile. In a sense, it is. 

The large lake’s waters flow north along the Victoria Nile, eventually joining the Albert Nile in northern Uganda. When the massive Lake Victoria’s water evaporates, it does so spectacularly. 

In Uganda, water pours from the lake at the Ripon Falls, also known as the Owen Falls Dam. It then passes through the Victoria Nile to reach Lake Kyoga, where it joins the Albert Nile. 

Three countries share the lake: Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. However, the streams that feed the lake originate in the Rwandan and Burundian mountains.

River Katonga

River Katonga is located in Uganda’s southwestern region. It originates from Lake Victoria and flows north into Lake Wamala. 

The river then flows westward to empty into Lake George, which connects to Lake Edward via the Kazinga Channel on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of the Congo border.

River Katonga originates from Lukaya, Kalungu District. The Katonga River empties into Lake George at Mpanga in the Kamwenge District. 

The river passes through or forms the borders of the following districts on its westward journey: Kalungu District, Bukomansimbi District, Mpigi District, Butambala District, Gomba District, Mityana District, Mubende District, Sembabule District, Kiruhura District, Ibanda District, and Kamwenge District. 

The River Katonga is approximately 220 kilometres (140 miles) in length from source to mouth.

River Sezibwa 

River Sezibwa uganda
The river originates in Ngogwe in the Buikwe District and flows north to Lake Kyoga in the Kayunga District. FILE PHOTO

In the south-central region, the River Sezibwa flows from a swampy section between Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga through some picturesque landscapes – most notably the Sezibwa falls – before emptying into Kyoga. 

The river originates in the municipality of Ngogwe in the Buikwe District and flows north until it reaches Lake Kyoga in the Kayunga District. 

The Sezibwa Falls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Uganda. They are 23 feet (7 meters) high and are part of the river. 

The site attracts tourists who come to bird watch, rock climb and take in the sights and sounds. The forest that surrounds the river and falls is home to a diverse array of primates and bird species.

River Semliki

The Semliki River (occasionally spelt Semuliki) is a large river that flows through the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda in Central and East Africa. It is 140 kilometres (87 miles) long. 

It flows north from Lake Edward to Lake Albert, west of the Rwenzori Mountains, in the Albertine Rift. 

It forms part of the international border between the DRC and western Uganda’s Bundibugyo district, near the Semuliki National Park, along its lower reaches. 

It empties into Lake Albert in the DRC’s Orientale Province, just west of the border.

Turkwel river

Turkwel River flows through Kenya and Uganda for a total of 211 miles (340 kilometres). The river originates at Mount Elgon, a dormant shield volcano on the Ugandan-Kenyan border. 

The river flows east into Kenya from this source, eventually reaching its mouth at Lake Turkana in northern Kenya. The section of the river that runs through Uganda is commonly known as the Suam River. 

The river’s flow varies seasonally and is subject to flash flooding during the rainy season.

Other smaller rivers in Uganda

Uganda is endowed with an abundance of other small breathtaking rivers, including the Mpologoma, Mpanga, Mayanja, Okere, Nkusi, Muzizi, Zoka, Albert Nile, Aswa, Pager, Dopeth-Okok, and Ora. Most of these are seasonal rivers.

The rivers are home to a diverse range of fauna and flora, including crocodiles, hippopotamuses, elephants, the Nile fish, the Nile Monitor, frogs, turtles, tortoises, mongooses, and several hundred thousand water birds. 

Along these rivers, tourists can enjoy fishing, camping, and boat cruises that provide an up-close view of wildlife.