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Rift Valley Lakes in Uganda

Rift Valley Lakes in Uganda : The world is not as familiar with Uganda’s rift valley lakes as it ought to be. This may be because the Kenyan arm of the vast African rift valley casts a shadow over the Ugandan rift, or the Albertine rift valley, despite the fact that the Ugandan rift valley is actually longer and larger than the Kenyan arm.

The three lakes that make up the majority of the rift valley lakes Lake Albert, Lake George, and Lake Edward are all painted with portraits of Queen Victoria of England from several centuries ago. It is accurate to consider the rift valley lakes to be a component of the illustrious and renowned Queen Elizabeth National Park; Lake George and Edward, which are connected by the Kazinga Channel, are located in the southern region of the park.

North of Lake Albert, the rift valley lakes are known for their stunning environment that transitions from grassland to riverine flora. Numerous craters that were created as a result of the movement of the earth’s crustal plates millions of years ago during tectonic movement that resulted in the construction of the rift valley are scattered across the rift valley lake region. Periodic earth quakes in the region are evidence of the volcanism or volcanic activity occurring beneath the surface of the place.

The rift valley lakes region is designated by UNESCO as a global biosphere reserve and as an ecoregion or biodiversity hotspot. Perhaps for this reason, Queen Elizabeth National Park continues to maintain a positive reputation on a global scale.  In addition to over 100 mammals and reptiles that are shared with Queen Elizabeth National Park, the rift valley region is home to over 1000 bird species, some of which are rare and endangered, such the shoebill stork.

Comparatively speaking, Lake Edward, also known as Rutanzige or Edward Nyanza, is one of Uganda’s smaller lakes. It is situated southwest of Queen Elizabeth National Park, close to the boundary between Uganda and the Congo. It has a surface area of 2325 sq. km, a depth of around 376 ft., and a volume of water of 39.5 cu km. Its principal inlets are the rivers Nyamugasani, Ishasha, Rutshuru, Rwindi, Ntungwe, and Rubilia, among others. Its principal exit is the river Semliki, which empties into Lake Albert.

Along the Lake Edward shoreline, you can enjoy observing a variety of animals, including hippos, elephants, and bird species like kingfishers, fish eagles, and white-backed vultures, among others. Additionally, the rift valley lake area has stunning views and a variety of species.

Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the first European explorer to visit Lake Edward in 1889, gave it that name. It was given the name Edwards in honor of the seventh son of the English king and British Prince of Wales. The naming of Lake Edward is connected to a lot of dramatic events. Idi Amin, the president of Uganda at the time, gave the lake the name Lake Idi Amin when he was in power, but after his ouster in 1973, the lake was renamed Lake Edward.

 The smaller and shallower Lake George is a second lake connected to the main western rift valley. It has an alignment like a papyrus wetland that is known as one of Africa’s ramsar locations. However, the lake’s life is greatly aided by the silt from the Rwenzori flowing through the river Mubuku, which serves as its inlet; in some places, the lake’s depth is even less than 2.4 metres.

The two main inlets to Lake George are the river mpanga in the south and the river mubuku in the north. Despite having numerous inlets, Lake George only has one outflow, which is the Kazinga waterway in the south of Mweya, where the headquarters of the Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda Wild Life are situated.

When you visit the towns near Lake George, you can engage in a variety of safari activities like canoeing, regattas, sport fishing safari, and enjoying your catch as a fresh fish snack. As you cruise along Lake George in Queen Elizabeth National Park, you can spot a number of elephants, buffalo, and other lucky animals as well as gorgeous swamp vegetation, statungas, and numerous birds. Sightseeing is also breathtaking.

Rift Valley Lakes in Uganda
Rift Valley Lakes in Uganda

As you travel north, Albert, the last lake in the rift valley, is the deepest lake in Uganda (at around 613 metres), and it is also the seventh-largest lake in Africa. Albert is an elongated rift valley lake. When Sir Samuel Baker became the first European to see Lake Edward in 1864, he gave it the name Prince Albert after the Prince of England. Despite the name, locals surrounding Lake Albert used to refer to it as mwitanzigye, which means “the killer of locusts,” though I’m not sure why.

The recent discovery of oil along Lake Albert’s northern shoreline has made major news. Although the finding of oil has certain advantages, there are also many drawbacks that will negatively affect the region’s biodiversity; nevertheless, that is a story for another day. Aside from the bulisa village located in the lake’s northernmost region, Lake Albert lacks any significant towns around its shorelines. The locals are pastoralists who have little contact with modern society and inhabit traditional huts.

Numerous rare and endangered species of birds, including the endangered shoe bill stock, are linked to the rift valley lakes. Community walk tour around the lake areas are great because they provide you with a wealth of information about the traditional African society through the stories given by the locals who live in this part of the national park.

You will be amazed by the greatness demonstrated or related with the lakes, such as the animals, community tours, way of life, and stunning views of the landscape, so just let your schedule include a visit to the rift valley lakes of Uganda on a Uganda safari.

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