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Lake Victoria

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Lake Victoria, the largest of all African Lakes, is also the second widest freshwater body in the world. Its extensive surface belongs to the three countries; the northern half to Uganda, the southern half to Tanzania, and part of the northeastern sector to Kenya. The lake occupies a wide depression near the equator, between the East and West Great Rift Valleys, but its drainage basin is relatively small, being slightly less than three times the lake's surface in area.

The first recorded information about Lake Victoria comes from Arab traders plying the inland routes in search of gold, ivory, other precious commodities and slaves. An excellent map known as the Al Adrisi map dated from the 1160s, clearly depicts an accurate representation of Lake Victoria, and attributes it as being the source of the Nile.

This massive (67,493 sq kms) lake, commonly known as Nyanza, is twice the size of Wales, and forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The lake is the heart of the African continent, the source of its mightiest river, the Nile. In the 19th century the riddle of the Nile was one of the great enigmas of African exploration. After many expeditions failed, John Hanning Speke finally reached these shores in 1858.

The Nile flows northwards, carrying the waters of Nyanza to Egypt and beyond into the Mediterranean. This mighty body of water is rich in fish life, with shimmering shoals of colourful cichlids and large Nile Perch. Nyanza province is the heartland of the Luo, a tribe known as formidable fisherman. Fishing brings many visitors to this lake, mainly in search of the Nile Perch, considered a world class game fish.

The best way to appreciate the beauty of this region is on the lake itself. The sun shines brightly, and gentle breezes rise from the water. In trees along the shore, Fish Eagles call to each other with long haunting cries. Sunsets turn the water to gold, as the local fisherman in their canoes pull in their nets and slowly turn for home.

The lake shore is highly indented, and there are many isles in the lake, some of which, especially the Sesse Group, are known for their beautiful landscape, health resorts and sightseeing places. Abundant prehistoric remains found around the lake indicate the early development of agriculture.

Kisumu is a quiet port town on the Lakeshore, with wide streets and fine colonial architecture. To the south fishing villages line the lake towards the broad waters of Homa Bay. There are three separate fishing lodges on islands within Victoria.

Main road access to Lake Victoria is via Kisumu, directly from Nairobi. There is an airport in Kisumu with scheduled flights. Charters can also use the airport. There is a private airstrip on Mfangano Island. Nearby Malaba is the main border crossing with Uganda. A traditional way of accessing the border is by a cycle taxi called the Boda Boda (Border-Border). From Kisumu there is some road access to the Lake south to Homa Bay. Ferries and Private Boats are used to access the islands.
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