Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria

At Kenya’s Western frontier via Kisumu is the great expanse of Lake Victoria. This massive lake, commonly known as Nyanza, is twice the size of Wales, and forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.  Among the freshwater lakes of the world it is exceeded in size only by Lake Superior in North America, its area being 69,484 km2. Tanzania has the lion’s share: 49%; Uganda has 45%; Kenya only 6%. Lake Victoria’s greatest length from north to south is 337 km, greatest breadth is 240 km and its coastline exceeds 3,220 km. Its waters fill a shallow depression in the centre of the great plateau that stretches between the Western and Eastern Rift Valleys. The lake’s surface is 1,134 m above sea level, and its greatest ascertained depth is 82 m. Many archipelagos are contained within the lake, as are numerous reefs, often just below the surface of the clear waters. The lake’s basin area covers 238,900 km2.

History

The lake is the heart of the African continent, the source of its mightiest river, the Nile. This mighty body of water is rich in fish life, with shimmering shoals of colourful cichlids and large Nile Perch. 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 Lake Victoria to Egypt and beyond into the Mediterranean.

Attractions

Lake Victoria has more than 200 species of fish, of which the Tilapia is the most economically important. Fishing brings many visitors to this lake, mainly in search of the Nile Perch, considered a world class game fish. Kisumu is a 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 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. Ferries and Private Boats are used to access the islands.