[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Lake Victoria Uganda-Africa’s Largest Lake-The second largest fresh water lake in the whole world” font_container=”tag:h1|text_align:left|color:%23019000″ google_fonts=”font_family:Montserrat%3Aregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_single_image image=”4637″ img_size=”1500*1000″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Only next to Lake Superior in North America, Lake Victoria, in East Africa, is the second largest fresh water lake in the whole world and arguably the largest in the African Continent with the surface area of about 23, 146 square miles (59, 947 square kilometers). It is also to be noted that Lake Victoria is the reservoir of River Nile, well as the largest River flowing into the lake is the Kagera River, in Rwanda. In this article, you will get to know some of the facts about the world’s second and Africa’s largest great lake:

Location and size

Lake Victoria is shared by three different East African countries; Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, whereby Tanzania covers the largest percentage with 49% (33,700 square kilometers/13,000 square miles), the second being Uganda covering 45% of the total surface area of the lake (31,000 square kilometers/12,000 square miles), well as Kenya has the smallest share of the lake with only 6% (4,100 square kilometers/1,600 square miles). The lake occupies a shallow depression in Africa and its maximum depth ranges between 80 to 84 meters (262 to 276 feet) and the average depth is 40 meters (130 feet). Lake Victoria’s catchment area covers 169,858 square kilometers (65,583 square miles). The lake has a shoreline of 7,142 kilometers (4,438 miles) when digitized at the 1:25,000 Level, with islands constituting 3.7 percent of this length.

Origin of the Lake’s name

Lake Victoria comprises of various local names according to different countries and tribes, of which the Ugandans refer the lake to as; Nalubaale, the Rwandese refer it to as; Nyanza, well as the Luo refer it to as; Nam Lolwe, and the lake is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named ‘’Lake Victoria’’ by an explorer called John Hanning Speke, who was the first Briton to document it, and he called it so after the by then Queen of England, Queen Victoria. Speke accomplished this in 1858, while on an expedition with Richard Francis Burton to locate the source of the Nile River. Lake Victoria (Nam Lolwe in Luo; Nalubaale in Uganda; Nyanza in Kinyarwanda and some Bantu languages) is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named after Queen Victoria by the explorer John Hanning Speke, the first Briton to document it. John Speke accomplished this in 1858 while on an expedition with Richard Francis Burton to locate the source of the Nile River.

History and Exploration

The first ever recorded information about Lake Victoria comes from Arab traders plying the inland routes in search of gold, ivory, other precious commodities, and slaves. An excellent map, known as the Muhammad al-Idrisi map from the calligrapher who developed it and dated from the 1160s, clearly depicts an accurate representation of Lake Victoria, and attributes it as the source of the Nile.
The lake existed and was known to many Africans in the catchment area long before it was sighted by a European in 1858 – when the British explorer John Hanning Speke reached its southern shores while on his journey with Richard Francis Burton to explore central Africa and locate the Great Lakes. Believing he had found the source of the Nile on seeing this “vast expanse of open water” for the first time, John Speke named the lake after Queen Victoria. Richard Burton, who had been recovering from illness at the time and resting further south on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, was outraged that Speke claimed to have proved his discovery to have been the true source of the Nile River, which Burton regarded as still unsettled. A very public quarrel ensued, which not only sparked a great deal of intense debate within the scientific community of the day, but also much interest by other explorers keen to either confirm or refute Speke’s discovery.
In the late 1860s, the famous British explorer and missionary David Livingstone failed in his attempt to verify Speke’s discovery, instead pushing too far west and entering the River Congo system instead. Ultimately, the Welsh-American explorer Henry Morton Stanley, on an expedition funded by the New York Herald newspaper, confirmed the truth of Speke’s discovery, circumnavigating the lake and reporting the great outflow at Ripon Falls on the lake’s northern shore.


Over a hundred years back, Lake Victoria ferries have been the most vital means of transport between Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya with the major ports on the lake being; Kisumu, Mwanza, Bukoba, Entebbe, Port Bell, and Jinja. Not until the Kenyan independence in 1963, the fastest and newest ferry, MV Victoria, was designated a Royal Mail Ship. In 1966, train ferry services between Kenya and Tanzania were established with the introduction of MV Uhuru and MV Umoja. The ferry MV Bukoba sank in the lake on 21st May 1996 with a loss of between 800 and 1,000 lives, making it one of Africa’s worst maritime disasters. Boats are also a major transportation mean at Lake Victoria, with major ones being the wooden boats and then the speed boats.

Islands situated at Lake Victoria

Ukerewe Island is the largest of the islands at Lake Victoria and absolutely the largest inland island in Africa covering an area of approximately 530 square kilometers, located north of Mwanza Town, in Tanzania. However, besides being the largest island at Lake Victoria, Ukerewe is also renowned for holding the hugest population of Africans with albinism. There are very many islands situated at Lake Victoria in the three countries in which the lake is passes through – Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, but the mostly noticed ones are the bigger ones that have got names. Most sites however imply that there are 84 islands situated at Lake Victoria but this is actually a false information as there may well be many other small islands near the lake shore that never even get properly mapped, let alone counted. Some of the other mostly noticed islands at Lake Victoria, besides Ukerewe, include; Rusinga, Buvuma, Mfangano, Ssese (Kalangala), Koome, Maboko, Bubembe, Migingo, Damba, Nabuyongo, Rubondo, Ukara, and Bugala, among others.

Ssese Island

The majestic Ssese island, in the northwestern corner of Lake Victoria, in Uganda, is inhabited by the Bantu speaking Bassese tribe , closely related to the Baganda tribe (in central Uganda) and the Basoga tribe (in eastern Uganda) and speaking a similar, though distinct language. Ssese is an archipelago of various sub-islands with the largest one being Bugala island with 40 kilometers in length, well as Ssese’s largest town is called Kalangala; which serves as the headquarters of the district that carries the same name – Kalangala District. Kalangala is situated about 51 kilometers across water, southwest of Entebbe – in Wakiso district, on the Ugandan mainland. The Ssese islands lie in two main groups; the southwestern can be referred to as the Bugala Group, after Bugala Island, the largest in the archipelago, well as the northeastern group can be referred to as the Koome Group, after Koome Island, the largest in that group. The two groups are separated by the Koome Channel. The other islands in the Bugala group include: Bubeke, Bubembe, Bufumira, Bugaba, Bukasa, Buyova, and Funve. The main islands in the Koome Group include: Damba, Koome, Serinya, and Lwaji.
Ssese is surely a must-visit island at Lake Victoria as; you will enjoy a lot of things ahead of its beauty. In the Koome group, there lies the NGAMBA ISLAND, which is the only sanctuary for the orphaned chimpanzees at Lake Victoria. At Ngamba Island, not only do you experience what it’s like to see chimpanzees up close but you will also enjoy a wide range of activities designed to create a rich and memorable visit. The other activities you will enjoy include; full or half-day Island’s adventure (day trips), sunset cruises, fishing, and some volunteer programs.

Fishing on Lake Victoria

The major economical activity practiced by the natives who settle near and at the islands of Lake Victoria is definitely fishing. Lake Victoria supports Africa’s largest inland fishery (as of 1997) and fishing from Lake Victoria is done in many ways by the fishermen, including; use of hoofs by anglers, use of draft nets, use of baskets and many other means. The major fish species caught from Lake Victoria include; Nile Perch, Tilapia, Silver fish, Lung fish, Cat fish, Lung fish, Clarias, Tiger fish, Sprats, and many more. Therefore on your visit at Lake Victoria, remember to taste some of the fish species caught from Lake Victoria for a great experience. The other activities done at Lake Victoria however include; farming and cattle rearing at the islands.

Flora and Fauna

Lake Victoria inhabits a large number of wildlife species both in the waters and at the islands some of which include; Nile crocodiles, hippopotamuses, turtles, African clawless otter, spotted-necked otter, marsh mongoose, sitatunga, bohor reedbuck, defassa waterbuck, cane rats, and giant otter shrew. The islands are also a home to a variety of monkeys, especially the monkeys. There are also various bird species found at Lake Victoria, including; egrets, herons, and shoebills, among others.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]