Located in the Northwestern part of Tanzania, jutting into Kenya and Uganda, Lake Victoria holds the title as the world's largest tropical lake, meaning that the lake never dips below freezing point. With a surface area of 26,660 square miles, Lake Victoria also holds the title as Africa’s largest lake. The lake was named after Queen Victoria, a British queen who funded an expedition for Richard Francis Burton to locate the source of the Nile River. Although lacking the interesting creatures and activities that come with oceans, Lake Victoria offers a variety of worthwhile charms that beg to be seen. For this last installment of National Travel and Tourism Week, we aim to convince you this is no ordinary lake. Although the lake is worth visiting, heed this warning; Lake Victoria remains unswimmable due to its numerous diseases and dangerous insects and animals. This shouldn’t dissuade you, however, as the best activities don’t require a swimsuit.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Stonehouse
The wildlife around Lake Victoria includes many powerful animals, including hippos and alligators. Along with that, over 400 species of birds call this area home, with otters, monkeys, and rabbits sharing space in this healthy ecosystem. As the Tanzanian government has found that it is not advisable to simply wander this wilderness alone, Rubondo Island National park was created, located within Tanzania's lake boundary. Touring with a guide in an “armored” vehicle provides protection from the variety of predators that are continuously on the hunt, bestowing upon you a safe yet exciting experience.
Just 30 miles north off the coastline of Lake Victoria lies Kakamega Forest National Park, all that remains of a once great forest. Reduced to just 90 square miles, the park services does all that is reasonably possible to protect these last remnants, so don’t expect to wander unhinged. Famous around the world for its animal and plant species, Kakamega Forest offers species that are rarely seen elsewhere nearby, giving you a shot at spotting multiple rare animals. Being surrounded by green vegetation makes for a beautiful scenery, and it won’t be hard to spend hours simply walking around.
Photo Credit: Joshua Tabti
While the natural side to Lake Victoria is surely up to par with many other Tanzanian tourist spots, the surrounding Luo tribes offer a welcoming and unfamiliar experience to all those who visit. Surrounding large portions of the shoreline, many Luo villages have found peace in this unforgiving environment. Working primarily as fishermen, these groups oftentimes dress in colorful and traditional attire, a far cry from the more modern clothing worn by many Tanzanians residing near cities. A stay at the Mfangano Island Camp provides visitors the chance at a guided tour of the closest Luo village and their prehistoric artwork, hidden deep within nearby caves.
All throughout Tanzania lies unforgettable moments and amazing adventures. Although we have covered 7 throughout this week, many remain for you to discover, and many lie off the well-worn trails created by tourists like yourself. When visiting Tanzania, it is advisable to thoroughly research your opportunities, and you might just find yourself with a story unlike any other.