Lake Edward in Uganda
Lake Edward in Uganda : is located in the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift, on the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, with its northern shore a few kilometers south of the Equator. It also known as Lake Rutanzige or Edward Nyanza and is one of the smallest African Great lakes and beautifies Queen Elizabeth National Park. Lake Edward and its Neighbor Lake George supposedly formed one large lake in the past, but the lava from the surrounding fields, the Nyamuragira and the Maya-ya-Moto volcanoes flowed in and separated the two, leaving only the Kazinga Channel between them. The lake is located in Kasese district, in the western region of Uganda. It is shared by Uganda about 29% Of its surface area and the Democratic Republic of Congo 71% of the surface area. Lake Edward covers a surface area of about 2325 square kilometers lying at an elevation of 920 meters and it’s not so deep. The deepest end of the lake is near to the western shore next to the escarpment. Lake Edward has a sizable average range of about 39.5 which is the water volume, maximum depth 112 meters, maximum length covers 77 kilometers and width measures 40 kilometers at its maximum points. The main inflows of the lake include river Ntungwe, river Ishasha, river Rutshuru, river Nyamugasani, river Rwindi and river Lubilia.
The main inlet to Lake Edward is river Semliki and Kazinga Channel which empties to the northeast of Lake George. However, the western escarpment of the rift valley makes up 2‚000 meters above the sea levels of the western shore of the lake. To the southern and eastern, lakeshores are lava plain and 20 kilometers in the north of the lake there is a spectacular view of Mount Rwenzori. The lake was first discovered by a European explorer called Henry Morton Stanley in 1888, during the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition. It was named in privilege of the prince of Wales Prince “Albert Edward” the son of the British monarch ‘Queen Victoria” by then and later to become King Edward VII. Later during the regime of Idi Amin Dada who was the president of Uganda by then, he decided to name Lake Edward by his name; Lake Idi Amin Dada, but the name didn’t stay for so long. The downfall of Idi Amin and his government in Uganda, brought back the name of the lake; Lake Edward. From the lake, you can clearly see the montane woodlands in the Albertine rift region. It is also boarded by Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Semliki River valley game reserve in the north western shore, with swamps like Rutshuru, Rwindi and Ishasha river in the northeastern shores of Edward.
Like Lake George, Lake Edward is designated as a Ramsar site due to the importance of its wetland habitat. The lake is inhabited by many fishing species, including the Nile tilapia, Bugrass docmark, Oreo chromil, Leocosticus, Haplochromine, Haplochromis and the Blue-spotted tilapia. Fishing is an important activity and it provides an income for the local residents. Vitshumbi is the largest of the local fishing markets. To note, the lake’s shores no longer have human settlement because the waters of the lake had swallowed away the dry places around, apart from the Isango community on the north side of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Along the lake, there is a clear view of the beautiful scenery of snow Rwenzori Mountain (mountains of the moon) and since it adjoins the open savannah grassland of Queen Elizabeth National Park, there is rewardable view of savannah plains of the park. On the banks of Lake Edward, it inhabits attractive animals such as buffaloes, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, chimpanzees as well as great viewing of beautiful birds, both migratory and residents in the sky above and the ground.
Activities done in and around Lake Edward
There is a lot of fishing activities going on around this lake because the lake has got a number of fish species as mentioned above like the Nile tilapia, Bugrass docmark, Oreo chromil, Leocosticus, Haplochromine, among others. A local guide will take you to one of the fishing sites where you will take part in fishing if interested and also learn about the different ways of preserving fish.
The lake is a popular birding spot in Queen Elizabeth National Park with commonly spotted bird species being goliath herons, saddle-billed storks, marabou storks, little egret, great cormorants, African white-backed vultures, ruppell’s griffon vultures, pelicans, fish eagles, ibis, Egyptian geese, nightjars and many others.
Guided nature walks
These guided nature walks are conducted along the shores of Lake Edward and the swampy wetlands offering opportunities of getting up-close with the hippos, elephants, buffaloes, and other wetland bird species such as kingfishers and the lesser flamingos.
This is one of the more relaxing activities as the water is known for being calm. The activity offers tourists can opportunity of watching the different bird species and animals that call the lake and its surrounding home. As they enjoy the beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding areas.