Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, which forms part of Kenya’s borders with Tanzania and Uganda, is the worlds second largest freshwater lake and has an area of more than 65,000 sq Km. Located in the south-west of the country, about 5-6 hours from Nairobi, it’s one of the wetter parts of Kenya. Kisumu the main (only) city in the region gets about 1150mm (45 in) of rain per annum, while a bit further South in Kisii there’s almost half as much again. The wettest months are March, April and May; the driest period is December to February. Temperatures are generally between 22-24°C.

The lake itself is not a park or reserve and the lack of well-known parks with lots of big game means that the area is less visited by tourists. Being only 3-4 hours from the Maasai Mara and only an hour or so from the Kakamega Forest, it’s a good place to stop off before heading continuing on to the Mara or Kakamega and then back East to Nairobi or the Rift Valley Lakes.

There are a number of reserves and IBAs around the shores or on islands in the Lake (Map of Reserves and IBAs). Bird species found around Lake Victoria but rarely if ever seen anywhere else in Kenya include the Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Blue Swallow, Swamp Flycatcher, Greater Swamp-warbler, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Carruthers’ Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek, Red-chested Sunbird, Red-headed Quelea, Slender-billed Weaver, Yellow-backed Weaver, Northern Brown-throated Weaver, Black-throated Seedeater and the Papyrus Canary.

  • Sio Port Swamp An almost undisturbed Papyrus Swamp on the north of Lake Victoria, right on the border with Uganda. The Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, Black-throated Seedeater and the Papyrus Canary are all found here.
  • Yala Swamp Complex Three areas on the North-East shore of the Lake; the Yala Swamp, Lake Sare and Lake Kanyaboli. Species found here include the Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Papyrus Gonolek, Swamp Flycatcher, Papyrus Canary and the White-winged Warbler. The Great Snipe may occur, Baillon’s Crake has been recorded at Lake Kanyaboli.
  • Ndere Island National Park is a small park (4.2 sq km) covering the whole island and created as a sanctuary for Lake Victoria bird species. There are no visitor facilities and the only way to reach it is by hiring a boat locally. As well as the birds it’s also home to the Spotted Crocodile
  • Dunga Swamp, about 10Km south of Kisumu on the mouth of the River Tako, is a belt of Papyrus about 5m long and 50 to 800m wide. The Papyrus Yellow Warbler is relatively common there as is the Papyrus Gonolek.
  • Kusa Swamp is on the easternmost edge of Lake Victoria. The Papyrus Gonolek is fairly common and the White-winged Warbler and Carruthers’ Cisticola are also found here.
  • Koguta Swamp is a wetland on southern side of the Winam Gulf. It’s mostly reeds with some papyrus and is flooded during the rainy season. A good place to find the Papyrus Gonolek which is quite abundant as well as the White-winged Warbler and Carruthers’ Cisticola. Other wildlife includes the Sitatunga and the African Python.
  • Ruma National Park Just East of Lake Victoria and to the South of the Gulf of Winam, Ruma is mostly open Grassland and is the only protected area in Kenya where the Blue Swallow can be seen. The Black-backed Cisticola, thought to be extirpated inKenya, was seen there in 2000; the first recorded occurrence in Kenya for 80 years. Other wildlife in the park includes the Roan Antelope and the Ori
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