A guide To Lake Victoria
At Kenya’s Western frontier lies the great expanse of Lake Victoria. This massive (67,493 sq kms) lake, commonly known as Nyanza, is twice the size of Wales, and forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Lake Victoria is the heart of the African continent, the source of its mightiest river, the Nile. In the 19th century the riddle of the Nile was one of the great enigmas of African exploration. After many expeditions failed, John Hanning Speke finally reached these shores in 1858.
The Nile flows northwards, carrying the waters of Nyanza to Egypt and beyond into the Mediterranean.
This mighty body of water is rich in fish life, with shimmering shoals of colourful cichlids and large Nile Perch. Nyanza province is the heartland of the Luo, a tribe known as formidable fisherman.
Fishing brings many visitors to this lake, mainly in search of the Nile Perch, considered a world class game fish. There are three separate fishing lodges on islands within Victoria.
Kisumu is a quiet port town on the Lakeshore, with wide streets and fine colonial architecture. To the south fishing villages line the lake towards the broad waters of Homa Bay.
This area is home to Ruma National Park, a small but attractive park with many unique species.
The best way to appreciate the beauty of this region is on Lake Victoria itself. The sun shines brightly, and gentle breezes rise from the water. In trees along the shore, Fish Eagles call to each other with long haunting cries. Sunsets turn the water to gold, as the local fisherman in their canoes pull in their nets and slowly turn for home…
Amazing facts about Lake Victoria
- It is Africa’s largest lake and has a surface area of 26,600 square miles (68,800 square kilometers).
- It is the largest tropical lake in the world.
- It is the world’s second largest freshwater lake measured by surface area. The only larger freshwater lake is Lake Superior in North America.
- This body of water is named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
- Lake Victoria is about 400,000 years old.
- The average depth is 130 feet (40 meters) with the deepest point being 276 feet (84 meters).
- Approximately 80 percent of the lakes water comes from rain. The other 20 percent comes from small streams flowing into the lake.
- Geological studies have shown that the lake has dried up completely a few times in the past. The last time was approximately 17,300 years ago.
- The Kagera River is the largest river that flows into the lake.
- Two rivers flow out of the lake. They are the White Nile (called the “Victoria Nile” where it leaves the lake), and the Katonga River.
How to get to Lake Victoria
Main road access to Lake Victoria is via Kisumu, directly from Nairobi by bus/matatu or private transport. Kisumu is also accessible by rail from Nairobi. There is an airport in Kisumu with scheduled flights. Charters can also use the airport.
There is a private airstrip on Mfangano Island. Nearby Malaba is the main border crossing with Uganda. A traditional way of accessing the border is by a cycle taxi called the Boda Boda (Border-Border).
Islands in Lake Victoria
- Bubembe Island
- Bugaia Island
- Bugala Island
- Bulingugwe Island
- Buvuma Island
- Damba Island
- Koome Island
- Maboko Island
- Mfangano Island
- Migingo Island
- Nabuyongo Island
- Ndere Island
- Pyramid Island
- Rubondo Island
- Rusinga Island
- Ssese Islands
- Ukara Island
- Ukerewe Island
- Yuweh Island
Lake Victoria Map
Getting Around Lake Victoria
From Kisumu there is some road access to the Lake south to Homa Bay. Ferries and Private Boats are used to access the islands.