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Tanzania covid-19 protocols

Tanzania covid-19 protocols on arrival

Approved & Recognized User of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safety Stamp

The government of Tanzania announced Tanzania covid-19 protocols on 18 May 2020 that it will lift the ban on international flights arriving and departing from the country.

Open for international travel via:

  • Airports
  • Land borders

Countries allowed to travel to the destination

  • All
Health screening & COVID-19 protocols on arrival
  • All travellers (including children) are required to complete a Traveller’s Health Surveillance Form, to be submitted within 24 hours before arrival in Tanzania. Upon submission, you will receive a Unique Health Code that will be requested during primary screening on arrival.
  • Present a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test certificate, obtained within 96 hours of departure to Tanzania.
  • Undergo enhanced screening for COVID-19, including rapid testing at USD 10 (USD 25 in Zanzibar) per traveller.
  • While in Tanzania, visitors will be expected to adhere to full protective measures against the spread of COVID-19.

Mandatory quarantine

  • All travellers arriving from India, or those who have travelled through India in the last 14 days regardless of the route taken, must undergo a Rapid Test upon arrival at own cost (USD 10). This is followed by stringent contact tracing, and a 14-day mandatory quarantine at an approved hotel at their own cost.

Airlines flying into the destination

  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Air Tanzania could resume operations to other countries that have re-opened for international travel, or for passengers looking to fly with the airline – to be confirmed.

Curious to know more about going to Tanzania on safari during COVID-19?

Do you have questions about a Tanzania safari? Get In Touch

Kenya covid-19 protocols

Kenya covid-19 protocols on arrival

Approved & Recognized User of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safety Stamp

On 6 July 2020,The government of Kenya announced Kenya covid-19 protocols that local air travel will resume operations from 15 July 2020 and that international travel will resume from 1 August 2020.

Open for international travel via:

  • Airports
  • Land borders
Health screening & COVID-19 protocols on arrival

Before departing for Kenya, passengers are required to submit their COVID-19 test certificates to generate a Trusted Travel (TT) code. Visit PanaBios to create a TT account, upload PCR test certificates, and generate a TT code.

  • A negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate is required, obtained no later than 96 hours prior to departure from your home country.
  • Body temperatures must test below 37.5°C (99.5°F) and visitors must have no persistent cough, no difficulty breathing, and no other flu-like symptoms.
  • If there is a reported case of COVID-19 on a flight or if the above symptoms are detected, all passengers within two rows of the passenger with the symptoms will be quarantined for testing at designated airport hotels. If the test results are negative, they will be allowed to leave the facility.
  • It is mandatory for all passengers arriving in Kenya to complete the Travelers Health Surveillance Form by the Ministry of Health online prior to disembarkation. Passengers will receive a QR code after completing the form and will be required to display it to a Port Health Official to proceed through immigration.
  • Travellers are expected to submit daily health information to the Jitenge platform (available from Google Play Store) for 14 consecutive days after arriving in Kenya.
  • Strict infection prevention and control measures have to be followed: social distancing, good hand hygiene, and the wearing of masks remain mandatory.

Mandatory quarantine

Health screening & COVID-19 protocols on departure

  • Passengers departing Kenya are required to have a Trusted Travel (TT) code for their COVID-19 test certificates if their destination countries, airlines or transit airports require PCR tests. Visit www.africacdc.org/trusted-travel to check the test requirements of transit and destination countries.
  • See a list of laboratories that have been approved to carry out COVID-19 PCR tests and issue certificates and TT codes.

Countries allowed to travel to the destination

  • All

Airlines flying into the destination

  • Kenyan Airways resumed international flights from 1 August 2020. All in- and outbound passengers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours of boarding.
  • All passengers aboard any Emirates flight require a negative COVID-19 certificate, obtained no later than 96 hours prior to flight departure.

Curious to know more about going to Kenya on safari during COVID-19?

Do you have questions about a Kenya safari? Get In Touch

going on safari

Going on safari

Going on safari

But what is ‘going on safari’ actually, what does it mean to book a trip to Tanzania or Kenya? The word safari means ‘journey’ or ‘to travel’ in Swahili, the local language in both Tanzania and Kenya. The online Oxford dictionary gives the definition of safari as: ‘An expedition to observe or hunt animals in their natural habitat, especially in East Africa.’

In the colonial days safari was used to describe the big hunting trips, but nowadays it’s more commonly used to describe a trip to a wildlife area and watching animals in their natural environment. Only the predators now do the hunting, although you could say that when you are on safari you ‘hunt’ for photographs.

The motto for safaris nowadays is;

Game drive starts early in the morning, heading back to the lodge in afternoon for lunch and relaxing at the lodge before heading out again for a late afternoon game drive. Or you can take a picnic breakfast or lunch (or both!), and head out for a long day of spotting animals with scenic stops to enjoy your breakfast or lunch out of the car. At night there is usually a campfire to sit around and share your stories and gaze at the stars.

Many people on family holiday safari, solo travel, group travel and honeymoon clients book a flight to Nairobi in Kenya as this is a bigger hub and more international airlines fly there which means there are more options and cheaper flights available. From Nairobi, you can either book another flight to for example Arusha or Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania or fly directly to your destination in Kenya with a smaller domestic flight. Driving to your destination in the country of your choice is of course also an option and will help keep the safari cheaper if you are on a budget.

Lake Eyasi

Lake Eyasi

Lake Eyasi is a seasonal shallow endorheic salt lake on the floor of the Great Rift Valley at the base of the Serengeti Plateau, just south of the Serengeti National Park and immediately southwest of the Ngorongoro Crater in the Crater Highlands of Tanzania. The lake is elongated, orientated southwest to northeast, and lies in the Eyasi-Wembere branch of the Great Rift Valley.

Lake Eyasi

The Hadzabe bushmen live in this region, as do the Datoga and Mbulu tribes. A visit with the bushmen is worthwhile and they will graciously show you where and how they live and hunt. They subsist entirely off the bush and by bow hunting. Everything they use is made from local materials, including their bows which are strung with giraffe tendon and their arrows which are coated in lethal poison. Their language resembles that of Kalahari bushmen tribe (who were featured in the 1980 film ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’) with clicking noises used.

The Datoga and Mbulu people are pastoralists, like the Masai people.

The scenery of Lake Eyasi differs dramatically to that of the surrounding areas. Compared to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Highlands this area seems downright tropical. Palm trees border the lake and make homes for birds such as Fischer’s lovebird. Other trees in this area include the umbrella thorn acacia and sand paper bush. The weather is nearly always very hot and intense, as the lake is located in floor of the Rift Valley, the oldest rift in the world. The rift is thought to have opened over 65 million years ago, shortly after dinosaurs became extinct. To view Lake Eyasi on our Tanzania map please click here.

Lake Eyasi’s water levels vary greatly between the rainy and dry seasons. During the dry season the lake is virtually nonexistent and animals are forced to share what water is left, which makes for easier wildlife viewing. The lake can get quite deep during the rainy season and it attracts hippos who like to cool off in its brackish waters.

Bird lovers will be in paradise here, as the lake attracts vast numbers of birds of all sizes and colors. Some main birds to be found here include: Africa spoonbill, flamingos, gray headed gulls, great white pelicans, pied avocet and yellow-billed storks. The main fish found in the lake are catfish and lungfish.

Lake eysai palm trees sunset this region is particularly suited for exploring on foot, and day or half day hikes are highly recommended. It is also possible to go on a hunting trip with the Hadzabe or to visit the other tribes. Almost any time of year is a good time to visit Lake Eyasi with only April and May being questionable as they are when the long rains occur.

Olduvai Gorge & Laetoli

Olduvai Gorge & Laetoli

Olduvai Gorge & Laetoli over the last thirty years or so, it has become increasingly apparent that Africa is probably the “Cradle of Mankind“. From Africa they spread out to populate the rest of Earth. Remains of the earliest humans were found in Oldupai Gorge.

 

Olduvai Gorge & Laetoli

Olduvai Gorge is a site in Tanzania that holds the earliest evidence of the existence of human ancestors. Paleoanthropologists have found hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools in the area dating back millions of years, leading them to conclude that humans evolved in Africa.

Olduvai is a misspelling of Oldupai, a Maasai word for a wild sisal plant that grows in the area. The gorge is located in the Great Rift Valley, between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. It is 30 miles from Laetoli, another fossil-rich area. Olduvai Gorge was formed about 30,000 years ago, the result of aggressive geological activity and streams.

The steep ravine is about 30 miles (48.2 km) long and 295 feet (89.9 meters) deep, not quite large enough to be classified as a canyon. A river cuts through several layers to form four individual beds, with the oldest estimated at about 2 million years old.

At Laetoli, west of Ngorongoro Crater, hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 millions years old and represent some of the earliest signs of mankind in the world. Three separate tracks of a small-brained upright walking early hominid. Australopithecus afarensis, a creature about 1.2 to 1.4 meters high, were found. Imprints of these are displayed in the Oldupai museum.

More advanced descendants of Laetoli’s hominids were found further north, buried in the layers of the 100 meters deep Oldupai Gorge. Excavations, mainly by the archaeologist Louis and Mary Leakey, yielded four different kinds of hominid, showing a gradual increases in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools. The first skull of Zinjanthropus, commonly known as ‘Nutcracker Man’ who lived about 1.75 millions years ago, was found here. The most important find include Home habilis, Zinjathropus and the Laetoli footprints.

Mafia Island Marine Park

Mafia Island Marine Park

Mafia Island Marine Park is renowned as an excellent world-class diving destination with some of the richest reefs in the world, The park covers the Southern part of Mafia Island and includes the inhabited islands of Chole, Juani Jibondo and Bwejuu and several uninhabited islets and the associated waters.

Mafia Island Marine Park

Mafia Island Marine Park and its chain of small islets lie approximately 120 km south of Dar es Salaam and 20 km offshore from the eastern extent of the Rufiji is one of the largest delta systems in Africa. To the east of Mafia Island is the Indian Ocean. The main island of Mafia is about 48 km long and 17 km wide at its widest point. Several smaller islands and islets are scattered to the west and south.

The island consists of eight small reserves along the Tanzanian coast under the Fisheries (Marine Reserves) Regulations of 1975, two of these are in what is now the Mafia Island marine Park (MIMP), namely Chole Bay and Kitutia Reef.

The marine park area at Mafia Island extends across some 822km2, more than 75% of it below the high water mark. The area hosts an outstanding mosaic of tropical marine habitats including coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangroves and inter-tidal flats. In addition a remnant block of threatened lowland coastal forest survives along the eastern seaboard of the island, roughly half of it within the marine park boundary.

Two species of sea turtle use Mafia’s beaches as nesting grounds and the area has been recognized internationally as a critical site for biodiversity. Several sites of historic ruins lie within the marine park area, some dating back to the C 13th. Mafia Island’s separation from the mainland and its freedom from industrial development have ensured that its surrounding waters are some of the least contaminated in Tanzania. The marine park area has national importance as one of the few remaining reef complexes within Tanzania’s coastal waters in relatively intact condition.

Accommodation at Mafia Island

Sea Front Mafia Lodge Kilindoni Sea View Bungalows  Mafia Island Lodge  Chumbe Island Coral Park

Lushoto Town

Lushoto Town

Lushoto Town is a leafy highland town is nestled in a fertile valley at about 1200m, surrounded by pines and eucalyptus mixed with banana plants and other tropical foliage. It’s the centre of the western Usambaras and makes an ideal base for hikes into the surrounding hills.

Lushoto Town

 

Lushoto is also the heartland of the Wasambaa people (the name ‘Usambara’ is a corruption of Wasambaa or Washambala, meaning ‘scattered’). Local culture is strong. In Muheza and parts of the Tanga region closer to the coast, Swahili is used almost exclusively. Here however, Sambaa is the language of choice for most residents.

Lushoto and its people; it would be hard to know where to start.  It is a town that exists in a nebulous state of optimistic beauty after being hardened by stunning scenery and a breath of fresh air. Like all places where winter likes to settle in for a good, long stay, the people of Lushoto nearly always embrace every moment of cool weather. When you live, visit or grow up in Switzerland, Lushoto sounds about as close and familiar as Switzerland.

It has sweeping landscapes with their towering peaks with farms, the breathtaking view and endless vistas (green and lush scenery) that interest many visitors.
Lushoto boasts of a rich hinterland ideal for farming, which includes bananas, pears, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, yams, maize, cabbage, carrots, capsicum, plumps or apples and more that find their market within the Tanga region and beyond.

Its rainforest is one of the most popular bio diversity places in Africa. Now, it is a centre of one of the best cultural tourism programmes in Tanzania – The Friends of Usambara (www.usambaratravels.com.).
The cultural tourism enterprise provides various activities for visitors, such as guided hikes and cultural visits to the Irente view point, Irente farm, Usambara farms, Magamba rainforests and more. Most of the incomes go to fund development projects such as drilling well in remote areas, building primary school and funding reforestation efforts.

In Lushoto, people live a more traditional lifestyle, and the locals are genuinely happy to see visitors walk by, greeting everyone with big smiles.

Location and access:
Lushoto town is accessed via Mombo town on the Arusha to Dar es Salaam highway. Public transports to Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Moshi and Tanga are available daily.

Accommodation:
Lushoto town has several up-market facilities which include: Mullers lodge, The executive lodge, Irente Cliff lodge, Lawns hotel, Lushoto White House, Swiss farm Cottage, Irente Biodiversity Reserve, Mkuzi creek Resort and more.

USAMBARA CULTURAL TOURISM
Explore, learn and know how we live in the Usambara Mountain, the community history of the indigenous washambaa, and the immigrant local tribe of pare and mbugu, local royality from the ancient to the Germany and British colonial era.

ONE DAY TRIPS FROM LUSHOTO

Irente Viewpoint (5-6 hours, 15km)
From Lushoto town, hike to this outlook for spectacular views of the village of Mazinde and the Maasai plains almost 1000 meters below. Eat lunch at the Irente Biodiversity Farm in their beautiful flower garden.

Magamba Rainforest (5-6 hours)
Walk through villages and farm land to the lush rainforest where you can see black-and-white Colobus monkeys. On the way back, pass by the historic royal village of the Kilindi (the Washambaa ruling clan) and an old German bunker dug during World War I.

Combined Trip—Magamba Rainforest & Irente Viewpoint (7-8 hours, 20km)
For shorter stays in the area, we recommend a combination hike to the Irente Viewpoint and Magamba Rainforest, where you can see Colobus monkeys.

Bangala River (5-6 hours, 15km)
Beginning at Mbuzii, descend slowly down the steep slopes of the Bangala River Valley toward the rising savannah heat. Visit a tree nursery, see traditional irrigation systems, and take in breathtaking views of the Maasai Plains.

Mkuzu Waterfall (5-6 hours, 15km)*
From Muller’s Lodge or Migambo Village, walk through the colorful forest to this local waterfall. Extend your tour by climbing Migambo peak (2400m high!).

Skyline (6-7 hours, 10km)
Jiwe La Mungu (“The footprint of man”)– Visit a famous cable system for transporting logs down the mountain, enjoy wonderful views of Maasai Plains. Learn about the people of the Usambara Mountains, such as the Pare and Shambaa.

Lushoto Town Tour (2-3 hours)
Explore Lushoto and learn about its rich history. View old structures from the town’s German colonial period. On Sunday and Thursday, this tour can be combined with a visit to the colorful Lushoto market.

Usambara Farm (4-5 hours)
Walk through the fertile farmlands of Jaegertal (“Hunter’s Valley”) to a fruit tree nursery. On your request the tour can be extended to include a hike to Vuli peak (2100 meters).

Combined Trip—Lushoto Town Tour and Usambara Farm (4-5 hours)
Tour Lushoto and learn about its German colonial past. Then walk through the fertile farmlands of Jaegertal (“Hunter’s Valley”) to a fruit tree nursery. On your request the tour can be extended to include a hike to Vuli peak (2100 meters).

Montessori Sisters of Ubiri (3-4 hours)
A short walk from Lushoto, visit this beautifully landscaped Catholic mission. Learn about, taste, and buy their locally made cheese, wine, and jams.

Growing Rock (5-6 hours)
From Soni, walk through the villages of Shashui and Kwemula to Kwamongo Peak (“God’s Peak”), famous for its multicolored butterflies and spectacular views of Lushoto and the Handeni plains. Stop by the Soni waterfalls on your way back to Lushoto.

Maweni Spice Tour (5-6 hours)
Hike from Soni to Maweni farm for a picnic in their beautiful garden surrounded by butterflies and a chorus of birds. Along the way, learn about the various spices grown in the Usambara Mountains.

Sakharani Wine Tour (4-5 hours)
Departing from Soni, walk through coffee plantations on the way to Sakarani where Usambara wine is processed. Upon your return, take in the Soni waterfall and visit the local market offering fresh fruits.

Ndelemai Forest (8 hours)
Departing from Soni, wind through coffee plantations and farmland. Explore the dense Ndelemai forest, and on your way back, stop for a visit in Magila Village, known for its traditional irrigation systems. Enjoy this walk through dense lush forests before catching a ride back to Lushoto.

MULTI-DAY TOURS FROM LUSHOTO:

Mtae: The World Viewpoint (2-5 days)
Trek through rainforests, traditional villages, and farmland; visit and sleep in a local home; see local pottery being made; watch the sun set from the top of a village; and experience the traditional life of the Shambaa people. This trip includes many opportunities to visit and learn about the development projects supported by our program. Return to Lushoto by bus, bike, or private transport.

Mazumbai Forest Reserve: The Galapagos of Africa (2-4 days)
From Soni or Bumbuli hike through tea and coffee plantations to the Mazumbai Forest Reserve, home to numerous birds species and black-and-white Colobus monkeys. Return to Lushoto by private transport.

Magamba, Irente, and Carter’s Viewpoint (2-3 days)
Trek through local villages and the Magamba rainforest to Irente viewpoint and then the Irente Biodiversity Farm, famous for their locally made organic food products. After staying overnight at the Farm, hike along the ridges of the mountains to Carter’s viewpoint. The next day, return to Lushoto or continue downhill to Mombo.

Lushoto, Rangwi convent to Mlalo viewpoint (2-3 days)
Trek from Lushoto to the Rangwi Convent for an overnight. Continue with a visit to a village of the Kilindi (the Washambaa ruling clan) and the headquarters of the Shambaa sub-chief to learn about the history of the Usambara chiefdom. This tour can be extended to include a visit to a Shambaa blacksmith at Tewe

Agro Community Cultural tours (2-3 days)
Stay with the local farmers, experiencing the village livelyhood.Visit the royal subchiefs of the mountains,get the chance to see the village festivals and learn how to step and Sing , the Shambaa and Mbugu traditional songs”

(West to East Cultural tour (5-6 days)
Have the general scope of the Usambara Mountains, trekking through the villages from the west to East via the natural forest of Mazumbai, Amani, and Nilo nature reserve to the Estern part of the Mountains.

Usamabara Royal Villages Cultural tour (4-6 days)
Get the chance to learn and experience, the existing culture in the royal villages and the royal families from the ancient time of the Shambaa kingdom to the modern

Kilimanjaro Acclimatization( 3-5 Days)
Lets acclimatize together by walking to the higher altitude villages and have what you deserve to climb the roof of Africa even mount Meru in regard to physical heath of the person.

Usambara bike tours ( 1-7 Days)
The Usambara Mountains is the best place for the mountains bikes, we save both sportsman and others who are in needs to bike and experience the natural and cultural beauty of the Usambaras

Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar Island is also known as the Spice Island, the beautiful island of Zanzibar on Africa’s east coast is bursting with culture and history, seemingly at odds with its idyllic geography of white-sand beaches with palms swaying lazily in the sea breeze. Together this makes Zanzibar a fabulous place to explore as well as a dream to relax and unwind.

 

Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar is the semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.

Portuguese invasion and control of the Swahili Coast in the late 16th century ended the golden age of the archipelago, although the Omani Arabs returned to power less than a century later. Today, many of the winding streets and high townhouses of old Stone Town remain unchanged and visitors can walk between the sultan’s palace, the House of Wonders, the Portuguese fort and gardens, the merchants’ houses, and the Turkish baths of the old city. Day-long spice tours to working plantations offer visitors the chance to observe the cultivation of cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices that have made the island famous.

Zanzibar’s coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world, but sand and surf vary depending on what side of the island you’re on. On the east coast, waves break over coral reefs and sand bars offshore, and low tide reveals small pools of starfish, small minnows, and anemones. Up north, ocean swimming is much less susceptible to the tides, and smooth beaches and white sand make for dazzling days in the sun.

The port city of Stone Town dominates the west coast, and although the beaches of Mangapwani, where slave caves are visible at low tide and nearby Bububu are less than half an hour’s drive away, a night or two spent on the east or north cost is well worth the extra hour it takes to drive there. That said, the Chole Island Marine Park just off Stone Town – and nearby Prison, Grave, and Snake Islands – make a refreshing day-trip and a good break from exploring the winding passageways of the old city.

On the south coast of Zanzibar lies the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a sea turtle protection area for the endangered species that come to breed on the island. Roads to the southeast coast take visitors through the Jozani Forest, home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys and a number of other primate and small antelope species.

Saanane Island National Park

Saanane Island National Park

Saanane Island National Park

Saanane Island National Park is a fully fledged National Park since July, 2013, covering an area of 2.18 sq km comprises of three islets and aquatic environment. The islets lie on the southern part of the main Island.

 

The park made a record of being the first ever National Park to be located within the City and the smallest National Park in both Tanzania and East Africa. The Park is the home of mammals like Impala, Rock Hyrax, Velvet Monkeys and Wild Cats. The presence of “De-brazas Monkey” underscores its potential as the only Park in the country inhabiting the species.  Reptiles are also dominant; they include crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, Agama Lizards, Pancake and Leopard Tortoises, Snakes particularly Python.

The aquatic part of the Park inhabits a variety of fisheries life, mainly Tilapia and Nile Perch.

LOCATION 
The Park is located 2km Southwest of Mwanza city centre, which lies in the Gulf of Lake Victoria (Latitude 2.5 S and Longitude 32 E).

GETTING THERE
One can travel by road or air from either Dar es Salaam or Kilimanjaro International Air Ports to Mwanza.  Also can travel by road or railway to Mwanza City from Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Kigoma and Tabora. to mention a few. Moreover, people can travel by ship/vessel to Mwanza Port from Uganda, Kenya, Bukoba and nearby Islands.

The Island is accessed by a regular short boat ride for about 5 minutes from Park Offices, on the mainland. Park Offices are easily accessed about 15 minutes short walk from the City Centre.

TO DO
Saanane Island is an ideal place for game viewing, bird watching, rock hiking, boat cruise, walking, picnics, bush lunch, photographing/filming, meditation and sport fishing.  Special occasions like wedding, engagement, team building, family day and birthdays can also be organized.

HISTORY
Saa Nane Island was named after its previous owner, Mzee Saanane Chawandi, a fisherman who turned into a farmer and later shifted to another island (after being compensated) to pave the way for conservation efforts in the early 1960’s. The Tanzania government officially owned the island in 1964 as the first ever government owned zoo.

Originally its territory measured some 0.7 square kilometers comprising both dry land and water. However, Saa Nane National Park annexed and includes two other smaller islets known as Chankende Kubwa and Chandkende Ndogo both located in the southern part of the main island into the bargain thus increasing its protected area to 1.32 square kilometers. The main objective was to promote intense and conservation education in wildlife and to promote recreation to the people of Mwanza.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria

With a surface area of 68,800 sq km (26,600 sq mi), Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake. In addition, it’s the largest tropical lake in the world, and the planet’s second largest freshwater lake. Only North America’s Lake Superior is larger.

Lake Victoria

An irregular quadrilateral in shape, its shores, save on the west, are deeply indented. Its greatest length from north to south is 210 miles (337 km), its greatest breadth 150 miles (240 km). Its coastline exceeds 2,000 miles (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 3,720 feet (1,134 metres) above sea level, and its greatest ascertained depth is 270 feet (82 metres). Many archipelagos are contained within the lake, as are numerous reefs, often just below the surface of the clear waters. Lake Victoria has more than 200 species of fish, of which the Tilapia is the most economically important. The lake’s basin area covers 92,240 square miles (238,900 square km).

The lake’s shores vary in aspect. The lake’s southwestern coast is backed by precipices 300 feet (90 metres) high, which give way on the western coast to papyrus and ambatch swamps marking the delta of the Kagera River. The lake’s deeply indented northern coast is flat and bare. A narrow channel leads into the Kavirondo Gulf, which has an average width of 16 miles (25 km) and extends for 40 miles (64 km) eastward to Kisumu, Kenya.

The Ugandan cities of Kampala and Entebbe lie along or near the northern coast. At the lake’s southeastern corner is Speke Gulf, and at the southwestern corner Emin Pasha Gulf. Of the numerous islands in the lake, Ukerewe, north of Speke Gulf, is the largest, with wooded hills rising 650 feet (200 metres) above the lake. It is densely populated. At the lake’s northwestern corner are the 62 islands of the Sese archipelago, some of them of striking beauty.

The Kagera River, the largest and most important of the lake affluents, enters the western side of Lake Victoria just north of latitude 1° S. The only other river of note entering from the west is the Katonga, north of Kagera. The lake’s only outlet is the Victoria Nile, which exits from the northern coast.

The search by Europeans for the source of the Nile led to the sighting of the lake by the British explorer John Hanning Speke in 1858. Formerly known to the Arabs as Ukerewe, the lake was named by Speke in honour of Queen Victoria of England.

A detailed survey of the lake was made by Sir William Garstin in 1901. Plans for gradually raising the level of the lake’s waters were completed in 1954 with the construction of the Owen Falls Dam (now the Nalubaale Dam) on the Victoria Nile at Jinja, Uganda. The dam provides hydroelectric power on a large scale and made the lake a vast reservoir. A second dam, Kiira, was later constructed 0.6 mile (1 km) from Nalubaale. It was completed in 1999 and began producing hydroelectric power the next year.

The Lake Victoria region is one of the most densely populated in Africa; within 50 miles (80 km) of its shores live several million people, nearly all Bantu-speaking. There are local steamer services around the lake.