Lake George in Uganda
Lake George in Uganda : also known as Lake Dweru is within Queen Elizabeth National Park and shallow with a surface area of 250 kilometers squared, and an average depth of 2.4 meters. The Lake is located in the western part of Uganda in Kasese district, at the escarpments of the great western arm African rift valley, with an altitude of 914 meters above the sea level. It is part of Africa’s Great Lakes system although not it’s self-considered one of the Great Lakes. The magnificent lake drains to Lake Edward through the mighty Kazinga Channel. The channel beautifully meanders in 915 meters streaming with lots of wildlife at the shores and concentrated by hippos in the inner waters. Like the other lakes in the region, Lake George was named after a member of the British royal family “Prince George” who later became King George V of the United Kingdom. Lake George has some islands recorded such as Kankuranga, Irangara as well as Akika. Its inflows are seen to be Dura, Mpanga, Nsonge, Rumi, Katonga and Mubuku from Rwenzori. Mubuku generates hydro-electric power in the area. The lake possesses its major catchment area within the Rwenzori ranges and the northeastern agricultural area.
The Lake was designated as a Ramsar Wetland System on 4th of March 1988, Lake George was given the name George by the first European explorer Henry M Stanley who visited the lake in 1875, after following the course of the Katonga River from Lake Victoria. Henry M Stanley named this lake “Beatrice gulf” thinking it was part of Lake Albert but later renamed it “George” on his return in 1888 and realized they were two independent lakes. The fauna of this beautiful lake is majorly dominated by different herbivores, most especially fish species such as the Cyclopoid thermocyclops hyalinus, Tilapia nilotica, and Haplochromis nigripinnis. The bordering papyrus swamps of the Ramsar wetland area are habitat to the sitatunga antelope and other animals. In addition, one can see the hard to pin down Shoebill and other resident and migratory birds along the lake.
What to do at and around the Lake
Lake George is a birders paradise as it’s in Queen Elizabeth National Park, which boasts with over 600 bird species some being migratory and others residential. The birds seen here include; African fish eagle, pelicans, marabou storks, grey-headed kingfishers, swamp nightjar, Nubian woodpeckers, doves to mention a few.
This is one of the activities carried out near the lake. The most interesting here is the sitatunga antelope found at the papyrus swamp of the northern shores of the lake. There are also other animals seen such as hippos, elephants, Nile crocodiles, and Uganda kobs that roam the shores of Lake George. Other animals such as warthogs, waterbucks, buffaloes, elands and duikers are usually spotted grazing around the shores.
During your visit at here, you will also get a chance to join the fishermen to the lake where you will be taught some fishing tactics and even take your best catch that will be prepared for you to enjoy. Species such as Tilapia are caught in the lake.
Strong-hearted tourists hop on a traditional canoe to explore the beauty and also discover the history of the shallow lake. It provides you with great opportunities of viewing aquatic birds and animals plus observing the lakes indigenous flora and fauna. Expect to reach the islands and the fish breeding areas.
Guided nature walks
These are taken around the papyrus wetlands and they introduce tourists to different bird species that call Lake George and the surrounding areas home. While here, you will get a chance to see how fine traditional souvenirs such as baskets and ropes are actually weaved, plus the outstanding scenery of the lake.
You will join the Kasuga community experience that will usher you to the lifestyle of the people living around the lake with activities such as birding, canoeing, demonstration of traditional beer brewing, demonstrations of traditional canoe making, canoe regatta, among others. You will also get a chance to interact with the local fishermen, and learn about the different fishing methods used and how they depend on fishing. There are lots of souvenirs to buy and take back home for remembrance.
Best time to visit the lake
Lake George and surrounding areas experience both dry and wet seasons with the latter ranging from March to May as well as October and November. These months are perfect for spotting migratory bird species but usually avoided for other activities such as nature walks. The dry months June to September and December to February is ideal for visiting Lake George and is when most activities are relished. However, the lake can be visited all year round.
How to get there
The lake can be accessed from Kampala-Hoima Road, this takes about five to six hours drive.