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Planning To Tour Or Safari In Lake Victoria - Uganda? Scroll Down..


Lake Victoria Introduction - Location, Attractions & History

Magnificent, regal, awe-inspiring, and intimidating in its grandeur! Perhaps these were words that crossed John Hanning Speke’s mind when he first stood on the shores of the iconic Lake Victoria in 1858. His quest for the source of the mighty Nile River led him to the banks of a massive body of water that he named Victoria, after the English royal monarch. Even today, the lake continues to captivate and awe the many travelers that arrive at its shores. Lake Victoria, also called Victoria Nyanza, is the largest tropical lake and the world’s second largest freshwater lake (by surface area), following North America’s Lake Superior in Canada.

Covering an area of 68,800 square kilometers (26,565 square miles), it might well be called a small inland sea. Since it is not included in the Rift Valley ecosystem, it is a freshwater body, unlike most of the alkaline lakes found in the area. Lake Victoria, with a maximum depth of around 80-84 meters (262-275 feet), is shared by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is fed by rainwater, the Kagera River, and several small streams, and ultimately drains into the Nile River on the north. Although John Speke is credited with the European “discovery” of the lake, the Bassese tribe had settled beside the lake and inhabited its shores for centuries before the arrival of foreign explorers.

Key Takeaways

  • Iconic Lake Victoria first discovered by John Speke in the year 1858
  • Result of the quest to find the source of the Nile River
  • Called Lake Nyanza by the traditional inhabitants of the region. Freshwater body of water bordered by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
  • Source of enchantment and awe for travelers for centuries
  • Covering an area of 68,800 square kilometers second only to Lake Superior in North America - Canada.

Watch Video On Lake Victoria Experiences

Page Content - Start Here

1. What Are The Key Attractions Around Lake Victoria?
2. What Tour Activities Are Available To Experience In Lake Victoria?
3. Best Time, Seasons & Months To Go On Tour In Lake Victoria?
4. Facts About Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria - An Overview

1. What Are The Key Attractions Around Lake Victoria?

Location Of The Ssese Archipelago - Key Takeaways

  • Ssese Archipelago lying within Lake Victoria
  • 84 large and small islands declared as one of the world’s Top 10 Hidden Islands of the World
  • Island characterized by tan-colored beaches, lush verdant tropical greenery, and an incredible array of flora and fauna
Lake Victoria has yet another distinction: it is the location of the Ssese archipelago, a collection of 84 large and small inland islands, and branded as one of the world’s Top 10 Hidden Islands of the World. Discerning vacationers looking for something offbeat are blown away by the islands’ sandy tan-colored beaches, shimmering waters, palm trees, and gentle tropical breezes, which together offer the experience of an inland beach vacation in the heart of Africa.

Every one of the islands hosts a diverse biome that is home to rare birds, plants, and trees, along with crocodiles, hippos, monkeys and other smaller fauna. The islets closest to Entebbe are ideal for tranquil lakeside holidays or a short relaxing getaway on your way home from an action-packed safari tour in Uganda’s parks and reserves. The proximity of the lake to Entebbe International Airport, the main entry point into the country, makes it easily accessible for most everyone.

Birding & Fishing Paradise - Key Takeaways

  • Carpets of floating water hyacinth, papyrus reeds, and marsh vegetation
  • Birdwatcher’s paradise abounding with a range of endemic and migratory avian life
  • Teeming with tilapia, Nile perch, and cichlids
After spending time beside the lake, you’ll never want to leave! Look closely at the carpets of floating water hyacinth, papyrus reeds, and marsh vegetation, and you might just spot a concealed hippo. Lake Victoria is a birding haven, and you will be able to spot many rare bird species with brilliant colors and forms as you take a trip out to the small islets and around the banks of Entebbe. If you enjoy angling, hire a boat and try to snag a 2 kg (4 lbs) tilapia or massive Nile perch, few of which weigh anywhere from 8 to 80 kg (17-176 lbs). Indeed, these fish have broken records, with maximum weights reaching an astounding 227 kilograms (500 pounds). At one time, the lake teemed with 320 species of cichlids, a brightly colored tropical fish of which only 8 species are now left. This is primarily due to the introduction of the Nile perch by the British colonials to boost commercial fishing which led to the demise of the endemic species.

Revel in the views of the lush green islands, which form a striking contrast to the sheer blue of the lake waters and their avian and aquatic life. To top it off, enjoy interacting with the settlers in the charming, bucolic villages that dot the islands.
What Are The Key Attractions Around Lake Victoria?

2. What Tour Activities Are Available To Experience In Lake Victoria?

Key Takeaways

  • Beach vacation experience in the heart of Africa with sunbathing sessions. Casual laid-back ambiance untouched by modernization
  • Fabulous locations for viewing flora and smaller fauna including rare sitatunga, monkeys, and otters
  • Featuring different habitats like savannah grassland, rainforests, and swamplands
  • Fabulous variety of endemic birds in brilliant colors and characteristics
  • Fishing expeditions to snag the Nile perch. Boating, kayaking, water skiing, sunset and moonlight cruises. Freshwater marine reserve at Bulago Island, Lacustrine Protected Area (LPA) covering an area of of 200 sq km (77 sq mi)
When we at AfricanMecca Safaris talk to our guests about unspoiled tan beaches, swaying palms, and shimmering blue waters in Uganda, they are typically incredulous. And then they remind us that they are looking for tour experiences only around Entebbe town. Their response isn’t surprising; few people believe it’s possible to enjoy an island paradise getaway in a landlocked country far from the Indian Ocean. But this is precisely what you can look forward to when spending your holiday around Lake Victoria. Go on long walks on the island shores, where the only traffic is bicyclists or pony riders. Or, perhaps take lazy naps in the warm sunshine beside the lake or hotel swimming pool.

Lake Victoria, known alternatively as Victoria Nyanza, is the site of one of the Top 10 Hidden Islands of the World: the Ssese Islands. This archipelago comprises 84 islands in all, small and large. Each is home to an exceptional biome with an incredible variety of rare flora and fauna, including crocodiles, hippos, and 450 species of gorgeous birds. Visit the islands to discover grasslands, lush rainforests and marshy swamplands that are stunningly beautiful.

Spend a bit of your vacation time exploring the islands on a nature walk in pursuit of the incredible variety of avian life. Always remember to keep your eyes peeled for the small island fauna, too, including monkeys, otters, monitor lizards, sitatunga antelopes, bushbuck, and others. Share a glass of the sweetest fresh pineapple juice you’ll ever taste with your family and friends, or sip delicious cocktails while watching the sun slide over the horizon from one of the rocky crags on the islands. Even better, catch a glimpse of the majestic fish eagles as they dive from the sky into the lake to catch an evening meal. Marvel at their sheer grace and precision while mentally setting a goal to achieve the same thing when you go fishing! You might also spot some of the migratory birds that have nesting grounds here, including Abdim's stork, the Eurasian bee-eater, and the white-throated bee-eater.

With its distinctive reefs, Lake Victoria supports large numbers of Nile perch, tilapia, and other freshwater fish such as tropical cichlids. While boating trips, kayaking, water skiing, and sunset and moonlight cruises are fun activities here, you can also go fishing to snag the record breaking 500-pound - 227 kilograms Nile perch (mammoths of the lake). Some of the islands also support small settlements and villages, which are delightful storehouses for fascinating local lore. One of the main islets, Bulago Island, forms the center of the only freshwater marine reserve in East Africa. The Lacustrine Protected Area (LPA) covers an area of 200 square kilometers (77 square miles) and was instituted to help restore the fish populations.
What Tour Activities Are Available To Experience In Lake Victoria?

3. Best Time, Seasons & Months To Go On Tour In Lake Victoria?

Key Takeaways

  • Daytime temperatures between 25 C and 27 C (77F to 81 F) and nighttime temperatures from 16 C to 18C (61 F to 64 F)
  • Dry season is the best time to visit for water and land activities i.e. January, February, July and August
  • Traveling to the islands by helicopter or boat ride takes less time and safer in calmer weather and water conditions.
  • June, September and mid-December are also ideal and very good times to visit
  • Wet season ideal for birdwatching and spotting migratory birds that arrive here to nest, and rooms rates are discounted. If possible, avoid April and May due to the peak rains.
Most AfricanMecca Safari guests visiting Uganda like to spend a couple of days at Entebbe and Lake Victoria to recover from their long-haul international flights or after their strenuous gorilla trek safari at Bwindi respectively. The inland lakeside beaches and Ssese Islands provide venues for rest and relaxation before leaving or after returning from exciting, action-packed safari adventures and game viewing in the various parks and reserves in the country. Uganda also welcomes many business travelers that use the Entebbe International Airport as the main entry and exit point. The proximity of the town to Lake Victoria and its many attractions makes it the ideal stopover.

If you are touring the country on business and leisure, you are likely to plan your safari trip around your preferred parks and meeting schedules. But no matter when you choose to visit the country, you can look forward to lovely warm weather that is neither too cool nor too warm. Maximum temperatures tend to hover between 25 C and 27 C (77 F to 81 F) during the daytime, falling to 16 C to 18 C (61 F to 64 F) during the night, depending on the month.

Different Monthly Seasons At Lake Victoria - Dry, Hot, Wet Rainy & Cool

  1. Dry Months, Best Time & High-Peak Season For Lake Victoria: January, February, July and August are the driest and warmest months, and also July and August being the peak season of travel in Uganda. Expect fewer guests in the high season months of January and February compared to the peak season months.
  2. Dry & Wet Rainy Months, Very Good Time & High Season For Lake Victoria: June, September and mid-December onwards offer mostly dry periods with intermittent showers. The end of December has higher numbers of visitors especially families visiting Lake Victoria due to the festive holiday season of Christmas and New Year eve, and schools being closed.
  3. Wet Rainy Months, Good Time & Mid-Peak Season For Lake Victoria: March, October and November offer a mixture of dry and wet periods.
  4. Wet Rainy Season, Least Best Time & Low Season For Lake Victoria: April and May. These months are also part of the lush green season in Uganda, and have the least number of visitors due to limited land and water based activities around Lake Victoria. Some roads with limited drainage in Lake Victoria do get flooded.
  5. Hot & Cool Months: There is only 1-3 Celsius degrees variation in temperature in between months at Lake Victoria. January and February are the hottest months with highs of 27 C (81 F) during the day and lows of 18 C (64 F) at night while June, July and August are the coolest months with highs of 25ºC (77 F) during the day and lows of 16 C (61 F) at night. All other months have a range around 26 C (79 F) during the daytime while nighttime temperatures average around 17 C (62 F).

Visiting Lake Victoria During the Dry Seasons - Is It The Best Time To Go On Tour Based On Climate, Temperatures & Weather Conditions?

Like the rest of the country, southeastern Uganda has two dry seasons. The first dry season runs from the end of June, July through August to the middle of September, while the second dry season is generally from the end of December until February. Both dry seasons are the best time to travel to Lake Victoria; though, fewer tourists arrive in January and February.

If you are visiting Lake Victoria on vacation, consider planning your trip during the dry seasonal months to have the best conditions. Vegetation is more sparse during these months, so you may be able to spot some of the incredible smaller fauna, including birdlife, more quickly. You will also enjoy sunbathing and exploring the islands, since the tracks are not likely to be muddy and water conditions are favorable for fishing and lake activities. Since accessing the Ssese Islands requires a boat or helicopter ride, you may find that reaching your destination is quicker when the lake waters are calm.

Wet Seasons In Lake Victoria & How To Plan Activities During The Rainy Period?

Visitors can also expect two wet seasons: the first rains that fall from March through to the middle of June, and the second rains that fall in October, November and December. Although these weather conditions are the norm, it’s prudent to keep in mind that global climate change has affected Uganda (best time to go), and you may experience some variation from the typical weather.

Holidaying around Lake Victoria in the wet seasons is an altogether unique experience. Do keep in mind that even during the wet season, it does not rain continuously every day since Uganda is on the equator, and there are spells when the weather is clear and the sun shines brightly. It may also rain in particular areas of Uganda and Lake Victoria while the other areas remain dry. The rains bring with them a renewed burst of vegetation, and this makes the islands even more beautiful. Migratory bird species also choose the two wet seasons to arrive and depart on the lake to build nests and lay eggs, turning the region into a flurry of activity, with the sounds of new chicks everywhere.

The wet months are considered off-season, so guests may be able to secure more economical room prices on the islands. Since commercial traffic remains constant all through the year in Africa, you can expect to pay the same room prices throughout the year in Entebbe; though less on the islands.
Best Time, Seasons & Months To Go On Tour In Lake Victoria?

4. Facts About Lake Victoria

Key Takeaways

  • Fabulous lake covering an area of 68,800 square kilometers with a 3,440 kilometer-long shoreline
  • 80-meter-deep basin holding a volume of 2,760 km³
  • Only outlet for lake water at Jinja at Ripon Falls on the north where it emerges as the White Nile
  • Surrounded by Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
  • Discovered in 1858 by John Speke as the original source of the Nile
The largest freshwater lake on the continent. The site of one of the 10 Best Hidden Islands in the World. The origin of the Nile River. Lake Victoria is all of this, and much more. A stunningly beautiful expanse of water, it covers an area of 68,800 square kilometers and might well be called a small sea, thanks to its 3,440-kilometer long shoreline. As you will learn when safari vacationing in Uganda, the lake receives close to 85% of its water supply from the rainfall in the region.

In addition, various small streams, along with the Kagera River, also contribute to filling its 80-84 meter-deep basin, which holds a volume of 2760 km³. The only outlet for the lake water is Ripon Falls at Jinja, in the north, where the White Nile emerges and makes its way onward. After a 500-kilometer trip, the river pours over Murchison Falls and enters Lake Albert. Upon its exit, the river takes the name of the Albert Nile before moving north to Sudan and then onto Egypt.

Nestled amid the three strategic East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, Lake Victoria became the focus of controversy in Europe in 1858, when John Speke declared that he had located the source of the Nile. Until his expedition and subsequent discovery, the origin of the iconic river remained shrouded in mystery. Interestingly, Arabian traders traveling in the region had created maps in the 1160s indicating that Lake Victoria was the original source.

Stunning Factual Natural Beauty - Key Takeaways

  • Lake estimated by geologists to be 400,000 years old
  • Changes in water volume and appearance according to climate changes
  • Home to the Ssese Archipelago comprising of 84 large and small islands
Geologists estimate that the lake could be about 400,000 years old, but since its volume is dependent on rain and evaporation, its size is subject to the vagaries of climate change. Studies have shown that the lake completely disappeared some 17,300 years ago and refilled 14,700 years later. Today, however, it is an enchanting location for tourists who immerse themselves in its breathtaking natural beauty. The settlements surrounding Lake Victoria and the 84 Ssese Islands scattered on its waters are home to an incredible array of gorgeous flora and fauna. This inland archipelago features untouched beaches with tan sands and shimmering waters abounding with Nile perch, tilapia, cichlids, and other freshwater fish. Varying in size, the islets also host smaller fauna and more than 200 species of birds. Close to the shores you may spot hippos wallowing in the shallows and crocodiles looking for an easy meal — keep watch!

Lake Victoria Today - Key Takeaways

  • Source of water and electrical power generated at Kiira Dam and Nalubaale Dam in Owen Falls
  • Environmentalists raising concern over non-endemic populations of Nile perch and water hyacinth
  • Populations living off the lake straining its resources
Used as a source of water, electrical power, and a means of livelihood for millions of people in three countries, Lake Victoria also prompts worry among conservationists and naturalists. The Nalubaale Dam in Owen Falls and Kiira Dam were built to generate hydroelectricity, and burgeoning populations around the lake are straining its resources. By introducing the Nile perch into its waters, European colonists unwittingly set off a chain of ecological events whose fallout is still being assessed by naturalists. When holidaying around the lake, you will likely notice an extensive green carpet of water hyacinth floating on it. Although it contributes to the lake’s natural beauty, it is not endemic to the region and was brought in from Brazil. The hyacinth weed has become more of a problem as of late, as it now clogs some of the shoreline and affects the fish population.

Despite these setbacks, the lake has managed to retain its beauty, responding positively to the conservation efforts being undertaken to protect and preserve it.
Facts About Lake Victoria

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Entebbe near the fresh waters of Lake Victoria retains its old-world charm and boasts some colonial style hotels. The laidback town feels more like a tranquil lakeside getaway spot than Uganda's entry point.

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Entebbe offers a diversity of accommodations, from the boutique chic Hotel Number 5 to the mid-range Protea Entebbe and Pineapple Bay Resort (Lake Victoria island). The value options are Karibu and Boma.

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The long dry season in Entebbe and Lake Victoria starts around the middle of December, January and February, and is considered the best time to visit. The alternate best time is June, July and most parts of August.

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Experience city tour activities and attractions in Entebbe - visit the Botanic Gardens, birding safari and shoebill viewing at Mabamba Swamp, explore islands of Ssese, fishing on Lake Victoria, craft shopping etc.


When visiting Entebbe near Lake Victoria, we recommend combining it with Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kibale (chimpanzee safari) alongside your city tour visits of Kampala.

You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, Semliki, Lake Mburo or Kidepo for an offbeat wildlife tour.

You can end your vacation on the beach by extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.

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Below are guide references on how to plan each of the below safari experience in Uganda. Alternatively, go to the summary section for a quick overview of each trip planning experience.

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