Imagine fighting your way through dense jungles only to peak through the trees and see brilliant clear water as far the eye can see. Imagine hiking over an almost alien landscape before turning a corner and seeing pink hues over the desert floor. Imagine, if you can, being able to see this and more in one adventure. In East Africa, you will not need to imagine such sights as you are treated to some of the world’s most beautiful, massive and bizarre lakes. Come with us as we explore just some of the region’s most interesting bodies of water.
Africa is of course a massive place. Roughly the size of the United States and with a far less developed road system, it can take weeks to cross. But as you approach the middle one body of water will truly astound you: Lake Victoria. Coming in as the world’s second largest lake in terms of surface area, the lake is divided between 3 different countries (Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda). It is the source of the world’s longest river, The White Nile, and is famous for its big fishing and the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Fishing charters and trips to Ngamba are available from Entebbe in Uganda and are a welcome addition to any Uganda holiday.
Western Valley Lakes
A tectonic crack in the earth’s surface has for millions of years been slowly pulling East Africa away from the rest of Africa. Because of this East Africa is home to many “Rift Valley Lakes” which have formed where the earth has cracked. The biggest is Lake Victoria, but a quick glance at a map will show you plenty of other examples.
- Lake Albert: The most northerly of the western rift valley lakes, Lake Albert lies on the border of Uganda and the DRC. From here it is possible to see the majesty that is the Rwenzori Mountains as their snow-capped peaks tower over the land. To its north, the Murchison Falls National Park offers great game viewing and fishing as the water of the White Nile crashes between a gap in the rocks only 7m wide.
- Lake Edward: Further south, Lake Edward is a smaller lake but with just as much to offer. Bordered by the Queen Elizabeth National Park on its east and the Virungas National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo to its west, the lake can be used to explore areas such as Ishasha (home of tree climbing lions), Kyambura Gorge (for chimpanzee trekking) and the massive Virunga Mountain Range (home of the endangered mountain gorillas and a climbable active volcano Mount Nyiragongo.)
- Lake Kivu: The next Western Valley Lake as you move south is the beautiful Lake Kivu. Bordered by Rwanda and the DRC, Lake Kivu provides for over 2 million people. Beautiful sandy beaches, quiet boat rides and a visit to Goma, a town that had a volcanic eruption’s lava flow through it which can still be seen today, are just some of the highlights available on and around Lake Kivu.
- Lake Tanganyika: The last of the Western Valley Lakes, Lake Tanganyika is a thin long lake with an abundance of ecology on its shores. In Gombe Stream and the Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania you can go search for chimpanzees in the footsteps of the great Jane Goodall. Snorkelling for multicoloured fish and relaxing on the beaches are highlights of a trip to Lake Tanganyika and we offer an exclusive safari which you can read about here.
Eastern Rift Lakes
As the Great Rift Valley makes its way up from Mozambique, it suddenly splits just after Lake Malawi. The lakes in this eastern rift are much younger than the lakes of the western rift, but just as spectacular and unusual.
- Lake Turkana: The largest of Kenya’s rift lakes lies on the border of Kenya and Ethiopia and is the world’s largest alkaline lake. The highlights of Lake Turkana include Central Island, the world’s largest breeding ground of Nile Crocodiles, as well as seeing huge populations of bright pink flamingos as they feed on the nutrient rich water.
- Lake Bogoria: Another one of Kenya’s rift lakes, Lake Bogoria is only 3,5 km wide and 35 km long yet has so much to offer. At times, it has the world’s largest population of lesser flamingos while also boasting several geysers on its shores which spew hot steam and water into the air.
- Lake Naivasha: One of two freshwater rift valley lakes in Kenya, Lake Naivasha is one of the region’s most popular tourist hotspots. Over 400 different species of bird frequent the lake, while the nearby Hell’s Gate National Park is a wonder for hiking enthusiasts. Boat trips on the lake, fishing trips and safaris are available to anyone visiting the region.
- Lake Natron: Within the Arusha region of Tanzania lies a dark red alkaline lake unlike any on earth. Lake Natron has a pH of 12 and regularly attracts a breeding population of 2.5 million flamingos to its nutrient rich waters. The red hue of the water is caused by the photosynthesis of the cyanobacteria, which are one of the few creatures that can survive these harsh conditions. Highlights in the region include the nearby Ol Doinyo Lengai active volcano which can be climbed with professional guides as well as exploring the area on bike on our latest Tanzania Cycling Safari.
East Africa is a huge region with so much to offer and we have only scraped the surface of the many lakes you can explore in the area, but get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org today and let our safari designers create the ultimate holiday for you and your family.