Lake Albert, also known as Mwitanzige (locusts’ killer) and formerly Lake Mobutu Sese Seko is located both in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is Africa’s seventh largest lake and the second biggest lake in Uganda. It is 160 kilometers long with a maximum width of 30 kilometers with a maximum depth of 51 meters and 619 meters above sea level.
Lake Albert is located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is in the northern part of lakes in the Albertine rift valley on the western branch of the East African rift valley.
The main source of Lake Albert is the Victoria Nile which comes from Lake Victoria in the southeast and Semliki River which originates from Lake Edward in the southwest. The water from the Victoria Nile is less saline than the one of Lake Albert. The outlet of the Lake, Albert Nile is a section of the White Nile river from the northern tip. The river then forms the Mountain Nile which flows into South Sudan as the Bahr-El-Jebel.
At the southern end where Semliki originates, there are swamps due to the massive amounts of sediments brought in by tributary rivers. The Rwenzori mountains also border the Lake to the south. The Blue mountains border the northwest and a few settlements along the shores which include Packwach and Butiaba. In the west and east, the lake is bordered by forests and ravines.
Before the colonial age, Lake Albert was previously known as Mwitanzige (locusts’ killer) by the Batooro and Banyoro. It was believed that locusts died as soon as they tried to cross the lake. In 1864, explorers Sir Samuel Baker and Sass Flora discovered the lake while looking for the source of the Nile and named it Albert Nyanza after the deceased Prince Albert. In the 20th century, the President of Zaire/DRC, President Mobutu Sese Seko named it after himself temporarily.
The European colonialists carried out shipping on the Lake as part of a network of river steamer, railway and lake steamer services linking British interests in Egypt, East and Southern Africa.
In 1930, a cargo and passenger ship, SS Robert Corydon was built for this purpose. The ship was described as ‘’the best library afloat’’ by Sir Winston Churchill while Ernest Hemingway called her ‘’magnificent on water’’. It is uncertain about the remains of the ship which was either shuttled in 1962 or sank in 1964. It is believed that parts of the ship submerged in Lake Albert at Butyaba landing site.
Oil findings have been announced by major oil companies that is: Heritage oil and Tullow Oil at the lake basin with estimates that the multi-billion-barrel field with be the largest onshore oil field in Sub-Saharan Africa for a long time.
What to do on Lake Albert
Lake Albert is home to a number of both aquatic and non-aquatic animals like the Uganda Kobs, Hippos, antelopes, African soft shell turtles, Nile crocodiles, snakes and frogs. The lake is also endowed with various bird species like the Pelicans, Herons and the shoebill.
Lake Albert has over 55 fish species that include the Nile Perch, catfish, Nile Tilapia, Albert late and the Niger barb. Fishing can be done by using standard fishing methods. About 30% of fish production in Uganda originates from Lake Albert.
Kibiro salt garden hot springs.
Kibiro hot springs is another area whose water boils at 100 degrees and it is believed that the water has healing properties. One can boil eggs, potatoes and vegetables from here and even get to eat them. The water from here flows and pours into Lake Albert from the west.
Take some time off and visit one of Uganda’s hidden treasures in western Uganda. Engage in activities like cycling, fossil hunting, quadbikes and game drives while here.
Get to visit Uganda’s biggest national park with a chance of viewing all the big five and over 76 mammals on a game drive, relax during the boat cruise and get to hike to the top of the falls. Also get a chance to view over 450 bird species while at the park.
River Semliki flows from Lake Edward to Lake Albert in the Albertine rift and is a major source of livelihood for the neighboring communities who get water for farming and livestock. Visiting the river also gives you an added advantage of visiting the communities that benefit from it like the Bakonio, Batuku and the Batwa,