Lake Kyoga basin Uganda



Lake Kyoga basin Uganda

Lake Kyoga basin Uganda :  is a polymictic basin located in the North of Lake Victoria in central Uganda, formed by the Victoria Nile in its middle course with an elevation of 1,033 metres and an area of 1720km2. It is shallow, with swampy, papyrus-reeded shores; masses of the papyrus are broken loose by strong winds and at times have completely blocked the river. The Victoria Nile flows through the lake on its way from Lake Victoria to Lake Albert and the main inflow from Lake Victoria is regulated by the Nalubale Power Station in Jinja. Mountain Elgon is also a source of water to Lake Kyoga. Although Lake Kyoga is part of the African great lakes system, it is not itself considered a great lake.

How deep is Lake Kyoga?

The lake reaches a depth of about 5.7 metres, and of its less than 4 metres deep. The areas that are less than 3 metres deep are completely covered by water lilies, while much of the swampy shoreline is covered with papyrus and the invasive water hyacinth. The papyrus also forms floating Islands that drift between a number of small permanent Islands. Extensive wetlands fed by a complex system of streams and rivers surround the lakes.

What process led to the formation of Lake Kyoga?

Lake Kyoga was formed when a complex of the earth movement began in the Miocene which eventually resulted into faulting of the Western River. This caused the reversal of the previous East-West drainage. River Kafu which was once flowing westwards began to flow eastwards thus formation of “Lake Kyoga” due to ponding-back of the Kafu river.

Who discovered Lake Kyoga?

An Italian explorer “Carlo Piaggia” who was born on 4th January,1827 in the town of Badia Cantignano in Lucca and died on 17th January, 1882 in Sudan discovered Lake Kyoga in 1876 which he named “Lake Capechi”. During his journey, he searched for a river passage between the Nile and the great lakes of East Africa.

Why does Lake Kyoga have many swamps?

Lake Kyoga has many swamps because it is watered by the Victoria Nile which collects its water from Lake Victoria starting from Jinja northwards of Kyoga. The Kyoga is about 80 miles (129 km) long with an area of about 1,720sqkm on within an area of about 1,033 metres (3,390 feet) above the sea level.

Is Lake Kyoga a fresh water lake?

Ooohh yes! Lake Kyoga is a fresh water lake and it also has suds seen as Islands some for-bird habitats and others as fishermen villages.

Is Lake Kyoga in a Rift Valley?

This lake is also known as a “Rift Valley Lake” which makes it be in a Rift Valley. It has an extension of the Victoria Nile that flows through the lake and also its way from Lake Victoria is controlled by the Nalubale Power Station in the Eastern Jinja.

Extensions of Lake Kyoga

The extensions of Lake Kyoga include; Lake Kwania, Lake Bisina and Lake Opeta. These “finger lakes” are surrounded by the swamp land during rainy seasons. They are all are shallow, usually reaching a depth of only eight or nine metres, and lake Opeta forms a separate lake during dry seasons.

The three different Environmental zones of Lake Kyoga

Lake Kyoga consists of three different Environmental Zones namely; the open water deeper than 3 metres, the water less than 3 metres (which is completely covered with water lilies and water hyacinth) and the swamp is mainly papyrus which fringe the shoreline. The lake has a rich biodiversity and these include; Flora and Fauna such as Cypenus Papyrus, Hyppo Grass, Cattail, Water Lily and Water Lettuce. Large crocodile populations are also found in the lake.

Fish species

Lake Kyoga has got over 46 different fish species and some of them are endemic. The Nile Perch was introduced into this lake in the late 1950s to increase the fish population. The Nile Perch proliferation led to the almost complete elimination of many domestic fish species such as Synodontis Victoria, Engraulicypris Argentus, Barbus Kiogae, Tilapia Esculenta, Tilapia Variabilis, Clarias Mossambicus, Mormyrus Kanumme, Schilbe Mystus and the Haplochromis Macrodon.


Lake Kyoga has enough water, because of the two rainy seasons; the first from the months October to December and the second between March and May. In the dry period from December to February, the temperatures in the North of Uganda are higher than in the South. All in all, Lake Kyoga has a tropical climate, tempered by the climate.

Did you know???

River Nile also known as the Victoria Nile, enters the shallow Lake Kyoga and passing through its swamp vegetation, flows out in a westerly direction descending into the East African Rift System over Murchison Falls National Park entering the Northern end of Lake Albert.

Activities carried out on Lake Kyoga 


The lake boasts with over 46 fish species which makes fishing one of the main activities. This activity is done at the designated area with a fishing permit and make sure to carry your own fishing gear if you want to carry out this activity.


You will get a chance to see how the people in this area grow and improve the growth of different crops where you will also be given a chance to take part in this activity. The activity is carried out to improve soil physical conditions, limit weed growth, improve water percolation and loosening of the soil.

Livestock farming

The people around the lake raise animals for use or even pleasure. These animals are commonly farmed for their meat, hides, wool, milk and also work. While on your trip, you will be able to engage in this activity and witness how fun it is to rare cattle through acquiring knowledge.


Lake kyoga is also endowed with a number of bird species that can be sighted on the shores which include; aquatic birds, migratory birds and also residential birds such as king fishers, African fish eagles, Yellow-billed ducks, Hamerkops, African jacana among others. The lake has got one of the endangered bird species that is found nowhere else in Uganda and that is the “Fox weaver bird”.

Boat cruising

Where you will sail with scenic views and expect to see animals such as hippos, crocodiles among others that are numerous in the lake and also famous bird species which include; waters birds, kingfishers to mention a few.

Visit to the fish landing sites

Lake Kyoga has got a number of fishing landing sites which are the busiest points at the lake and they include; Kibuye, Kikoyiro, Moone, Lwampanga, Kisonge and Namasale fish landing sites. While here, you will have an opportunity to see how fish is being offloaded from the boats and sun dried before it’s taken to the market.

Community visits

Tourists are able to go around the villages and learn about these people’s ways of living and how they survive on fishing while being guided by a guide. One can also have a chance to witness their traditional handmade crafts which can be bought in remembrance of the trip.

Note: There is no industrialization in the area due to lack of grid or any other power connectivity.  

How to get to Lake Kyoga

Lake Kyoga can be reached from Kampala to Soroti in the Eastern part of Uganda the pearl of Africa via Lale; alternatively, one can cross with a boat from Nakasongola to Namasale.        






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