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17 Great Rift Valley Lakes to Visit in East Africa

One of the best ways to get away from stress is to spend a few days relaxing by the lake. Luckily, the Great Rift Valley of East Africa has plenty of them to choose from. In this guide, I’ll outline 17 of the most spectacular Great Rift Valley lakes in East Africa. I’ll cover some of the most popular lakes including Lake Victoria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Lake Bunyonyi, Lake Malawi, and Lake Kivu as well as a few lesser-known lakes. In each section, I’ll explain how to get there and list some of the best activities on each lake. Africa is my favorite place to travel.

Africa is my favorite place to travel. Over the years, I’ve visited most of these lakes. In this guide, I’ll share my experience.

Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi
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Table of Contents

What is the Great Rift Valley?

The Great Rift Valley is a geologically active zone where the forces of plate tectonics are pulling the earth’s lithosphere apart. These are divergent plate boundaries. Essentially, the continent of Africa is becoming two separate land masses. This process began around 25 million years ago during the beginning of the Miocene.

At the current rate of movement of around 6-7 mm per year, it is estimated that the lithosphere connecting the African plates will break in around 10 million years. At that time, Africa will be divided into two tectonic plates, the newly formed Somali Plate and the Nubian Plate. A newly formed ocean floor will separate the plates.

The evidence that we can see today of this tectonic movement is the Great Rift Valley Lakes. As these tectonic plates break apart, deep valleys form between them. These are called rifts. In these rifts, water collects and forms the beautiful great lakes that we can enjoy today. These lakes are some of the oldest, largest, deepest, and most voluminous lakes on Earth.

The movement of the tectonic plates also causes walls to form on the edges of the rift valley. These walls are referred to as the Great Rift Valley escarpment. You can see the Great Rift Valley escarpment clearly in Kenya. The movement of the plates can also cause volcanic eruptions.

There are actually two East African rift systems. These are the Gregory Rift and the Western Rift or Albertine Rift. The Gregory Rift ranges from the Red Sea Rift all the way to Mount Kilimanjaro. The Western Rift includes most of the great lakes in the East African Rift system.

Scientists are still not exactly sure how rift valleys form. A number of different forces can cause Earth’s tectonic plates to move. Some popular theories about the formation of the Great Rift Valley indicate that plate motion has to do with magnetism, differing densities, or mantle plumes. Today, scientists use geochemistry, seismic tomography, and computer modeling to better understand the geology of the region and the rift formation.

For more info, check out this great article about the Great Rift Valley from National Geographic.

The Best Great Rift Valley Lakes to Visit

There are over 30 lakes in the Great Rift Valley. In this section, I’ll outline 15 of the most popular lakes to visit. Whether you’re looking to go fishing, sailing, swimming, kayaking, hiking, or just take in the views, there is a lake for everyone.

1. Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

I’ll start off by talking about my favorite East African Rift Valley lake, Lake Bunyonyi. This beautiful freshwater lake is located in Southwestern Uganda just a few miles from the Rwanda border. 

The picturesque shores of Lake Bunyonyi are lined with terraced farms, several small villages, and a handful of eco-resorts and campsites. The lake is so beautiful that Uganda decided to put a picture of it on their 5000 shilling note. The name ‘Bunyonyi’ translates to ‘Place of Many Little Birds,’ in the local language. 

One interesting fact about Lake Bunyonyi is that there is disagreement about its true depth. Scientists believe that the lake is relatively shallow at just 130 feet (about 40 meters). Locals believe the lake to be much deeper at 2950 feet (900 meters). If true, this would make Lake Bunyonyi the second deepest lake in Africa.

Things to do at Lake Bunyonyi

  • Go for a walk along the shore- The road along the shore has very little traffic and offers excellent views of the lake.
  • Rent a kayak or canoe- You can explore the lake under your own power.
  • Hire a boat and guide and visit the islands- Visit a few of the 29 islands including the infamous Punishment Island where unmarried pregnant girls were left to starve, or if they were lucky, get picked up by a poor man who couldn’t afford a wife.
  • Birdwatch- A visit to Lake Bunyonyi provides an excellent opportunity to spot some of Uganda’s colorful and diverse bird species. See how many of the more than 200 species you can spot. A few species to look out for include grey crowned cranes, African king fisher, herons, weavers, egrets, and cardinal woodpeckers.
  • Hike- The surrounding hills offer some spectacular panoramic views of the terraced hills, islands, and villages.
  • Swim- Lake Bunyonyi is one of the few lakes that is safe to swim in in the Great Rift Valley. No hippos or crocodiles live there. It is also considered to be bilharzia-free.
  • Go mountain biking- There are opportunities for mountain biking in the hills surrounding the lake.
  • Relax in an eco-resort- There are a number of eco-resorts on Lake Bunyonyi where you can stay the night, relax, and learn about the area.
Me at lake Bunyonyi

How to Get to Lake Bunyonyi

The nearest town to Lake Bunyonyi is Kabale, which sits about 4 miles or 7 kilometers from the shore of the lake. You can easily get there by coach from either Kampala or Kigali.

Simply catch one of the multiple daily coaches traveling between the two cities and get off in the town of Kabale. From Kabale, take a taxi or motorcycle to the lake. 

For more info on this lake, check out my complete guide: How to Visit Beautiful Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda. Here, I explain, step-by-step how to get there as well as list more exciting things to do.

2. Lake Kivu, Rwanda, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lake Kivu, Rwanda

One of the largest lakes in the East Africa rift system, Lake Kivu sits on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lake Kivu is part of the Albertine Rift. This is the western part of the East African Rift Valley.

I found this lake to be the most beautiful of all of the East African rift valley lakes that I have visited. The views from the eucalyptus and pine-covered hills and mountains surrounding the lake are spectacular. The size of Lake Kivu also shocked me. From some points, you can’t see the other side. It looks like a sea.

Things to do at Lake Kivu

  • Hike or bike on the Congo Nile Trail- This 257 kilometer (160 mile) trail runs along Lake Kivu from Rubavu to Kibuye. It’s an excellent place for hiking and mountain biking. The trail offers breathtaking views of the water, the surrounding terraced hills, and local villages.
  • Go to the beach- There are four beaches on Lake Kivu including Cyangugu Beach, Kanyabayonga Beach, Nyanzaru Beach, and Isunga Beach. The beaches aren’t the best but there are some nice sandy spots where you can relax and sunbathe. The best beach is near Gisenyi.
  • Go Kayaking or Canoeing- Rent a kayak or canoe and paddle around and explore under your own power.
  • Visit the islands- If you decide to take a boat tour, you can visit the coffee plantations on Nyamirundi Island.
  • Go for a walk- The roads along the shore are generally pretty quiet. The views are excellent.
  • Birdwatch- Birdwatchers will find a haven here as the region surrounding the lake is teeming with exotic bird species. More than 60 species inhabit the area.
  • Go for a boat ride- You can hire a motorboat and guide to show you around the lake. There are several interesting islands and villages you can visit.
  • Go fishing- Hire a guide and go sportfishing. Lake Kivu is home to around 28 species of fish.
  • Visit a fishing village- The lake is surrounded by numerous small fishing villages that offer travelers an opportunity to experience the local culture.
Sunset at Lake Kivu
Sunset at Lake Kivu

How to Get to Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu lies about 3 hours from Kigali by bus. The easiest way to get there is to head down to Nyabugogo Taxi Park (also known as Kigali bus station) and catch a minibus to the lake.

The most popular lakeside destination is the town of Gisenyi in the Rubavu region of Rwanda. This is the largest resort town on Lake Kivu. It features the country’s best beach as well as plenty of hotels and restaurants. You can get there by direct bus from Kigali for around 3000 francs. Another popular destination is the town of Kibuye. This town is also easily reachable by bus from Kigali.

It’s also possible to visit Lake Kivu from the Democratic Republic of the Congo but security can be a concern. The city of Goma sits on the north shore of Lake Kivu. Here, you’ll find a number of resorts. Be sure to check the security situation before you visit.

For more info on visiting Lake Kivu, check out my complete guide: How to Visit Beautiful Lake Kivu, Rwanda. Here, I discuss exactly how to get there as well as list more things to do.

3. Lake Victoria, Uganda, Kenya, or Tanzania

Lake Victoria, Uganda

Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. It is located in the heart of East Africa in the Great Rift Valley.

The shallow lake was formed around 400,000 years ago when several rivers were dammed by the shifting of the earth’s crust. Water collected in a depression that is now Lake Victoria. Over the millennia, the lake has dried out and refilled multiple times. Lake Victoria is one of the main sources of the Nile River.

Straddling the countries of Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, Lake Victoria is not just an impressive geographical feature. It is also a lifeline for the millions of people residing in its basin. It is the largest inland fishery in Africa. The shores are dotted with bustling cities and quaint villages

Lake Victoria is also historically significant for the region. The lake was named after Queen Victoria by the explorer John Hanning Speke while he was searching for the source of the Nile.

Lake Victoria has a lot to offer in terms of things to do and see. It’s a must-visit if you’re traveling in Eastern Africa.

At lake Kivu

Things to do While Visiting Lake Victoria

  • Visit the Islands– Lake Victoria contains almost 1000 islands. Some of the most beautiful are the Ssese Islands in Uganda. This is an archipelago of 84 islands in the northwest of Lake Victoria. This string of islands offers some beautiful secluded beaches and tropical forests. You can catch a ferry to the islands from Entebbe, Uganda.
  • Bird Watching: Lake Victoria is a paradise for bird lovers. Home to over 200 bird species, you can spot African fish eagles, malachite kingfishers, pied kingfishers, and many more.
  • Go fishing- Hire a guide and go fishing. Nile perch and Nile tilapia are some of the common species here.
  • Eat some fish- For thousands of years, people have been fishing Lake Victoria. Enjoy a nice fish dinner on the shore. All of the local restaurants serve fresh fish from the lake.
  • Swim- The water is nice but you do need to be aware that parts of the lake are contaminated with the bilharzia parasite.
  • Visit the source of the Nile- The source of the Nile is located near Jinja, Uganda. You can take a boat tour or view the source of the Nile from the shore.
  • Take a ferry ride- Schedules are a bit unpredictable but there are ferries crossing between Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Most passenger ferries operate domestically between the mainland and the lake’s many islands. Do be a bit cautious about which ferry you board. The ferry companies have a tendency to overload the boats. Lake Victoria ferries don’t have the best safety track record.
  • Go for a walk- A walk along the shore is always nice. Lake Victoria is very scenic.
  • Go for a boat ride- You can hire a small motorboat and guide to show you around. You can also rent a kayak or canoe.
  • Stay at one of the lakeside eco-resorts- These make for a great relaxing getaway.
  • Explore Kisumu- On the Kenyan side, the city of Kisumu offers a vibrant urban experience with numerous attractions such as the Kisumu Museum, the Impala Sanctuary, and the Kisumu Beach Resort.
  • Discover Mwanza- Known for its prominent rock outcrops that dot the cityscape, Mwanza in Tanzania offers a unique urban experience in the Lake Victoria basin.
  • Explore Entebbe– Located on a peninsula in Lake Victoria, Entebbe, Uganda is a city rich in history and natural beauty. A visit to the Entebbe Botanical Gardens offers a chance to stroll through lush greenery and spot monkeys and various bird species. The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is another must-visit for animal lovers. Uganda’s international airport is also located here.

How to Get to Lake Victoria

The Ugandan side of the lake is probably the most popular place for tourists to visit. Because the capital city of Kampala lies so close to the shore, you can easily visit Lake Victoria on a day trip. Uganda’s international airport also sits right on the shore of the lake in the city of Entebbe. The best towns to visit on the lake are Entebbe and Jinja. The ride from Kampala to Jinja takes a couple of hours. Entebbe is even closer.

In Kenya, Kisumu and Homa Bay are a couple of the more popular lakeside towns to visit. They can be easily reached in about a day from Nairobi either by minibus or coach. I recommend Easy Coach. You’ll probably want to spend the night as you’ll be traveling all day to get there.

In Tanzania, the city of Mwanza is probably the most popular lakeside city to visit. It’s actually the second-largest city in Tanzania. You can easily reach Mwanza in about a day from Dar es Salaam. Coaches regularly operate between the two cities.

4. Lake Malawi, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania

Lake Malawi, Malawi

Lake Malawi is the southernmost lake of the East Africa Great Rift Valley. It is located between Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. The majority of the lake belongs to Malawi. Lake Malawi is known as Lago Niassa in Mozambique and Lake Nyasa in Tanzania.

Lake Malawi is known for its clear waters and sandy beaches. One interesting fact about the lake is that it contains more species of fish than any other lake in the world. Over 1,000 species of cichlids live in Lake Malawi, making it a global icon of biodiversity. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is also the 4th largest freshwater lake in the world and the second-deepest lake in Africa. Lake Malawi stretches over 365 miles long (580 kilometers) and is about 52 miles wide at its widest point.

I found this lake to be the most relaxing that I visited in Africa. Maybe because of the beautiful sandy beaches and ocean-like view.

Things to do at Lake Malawi

  • Eat some fish- The lake has provided food for the surrounding area for thousands of years. Enjoy a fresh fish dinner at one of the restaurants along the shore.
  • Go snorkeling or scuba diving- Lake Malawi is famous for its 1000 species of Cichlids. Many only live in Lake Malawi. Snorkeling and scuba diving is the best way to view the lake’s biodiversity.
  • Visit Lake Malawi National Park- UNESCO World Heritage site is the world’s first freshwater national park. It covers about 94 square kilometers around the southern end of the lake around Cape Maclear. Here, you can enjoy sandy beaches and go snorkeling and scuba diving.
  • Go sailing- Several sailing clubs exist on the lake. You can take a tour or rent a yacht if you know how to sail.
  • Go fishing- Join local fishermen for a traditional fishing experience. Not only will you learn about their unique fishing methods, but you might also catch a tasty chambo, the local favorite. People have been fishing Lake Malawi for millennia.
  • Explore Likoma Island: This island is known for its magnificent cathedral, friendly locals, and beautiful beaches. It’s a great place to relax and soak up the sun. You can catch a ferry to this beautiful island from both Malawi and Mozambique. The Island sits in Mozambique waters but belongs to Malawi.
  • People watch- I sat on the beach and just watched people wash their dishes and do their laundry. It’s interesting to watch a person do basic tasks like this in such a different manner than you’re used to back home.
  • Rent a kayak or canoe- You can explore the lake under your own power. Be sure to negotiate hard with the rental guy. They love to rip off foreigners.
  • Hiking and Bird Watching: The lake’s surrounding area provides numerous trails for hiking and bird watching, offering an opportunity to spot a variety of bird species and enjoy panoramic views of the lake.
  • Go for a swim- The water is beautiful but you should be aware that parts of the lake are contaminated with the bilharzia parasite.
  • Take a boat ride- You can hire a guide and take a cruise on the lake.
  • Lay on the beach- Beautiful sandy beaches surround the lake. Bring your beach towel and a book and get some sun.
  • Take a ferry across- Several international ferries operate on the lake.
  • Visit Local Villages: People have been living on the shores of Lake Malawi for thousands of years. Experience local culture by visiting lakeside villages. Learn about local traditions, enjoy traditional food, and maybe even witness traditional dances and music.
  • Water sports- Paddleboards are available to rent. You can also go water skiing.
Lake Malawi, Malawi

How to get to Lake Malawi

The most popular places to visit on Lake Malawi are the towns of Monkey Bay and Cape Maclear on the Malawi side of the lake. Getting there is, unfortunately, a bit of a hassle. The most affordable way to get to the lake from Lilongwe is by a series of minibusses. Head down to the main bus station on Devil street in Lilongwe and ask around for a bus heading to Monkey Bay. You can also hire a private vehicle and driver.

You can also visit the Tanzania and Mozambique sides of the lake. As the capitals are far away, the best way to get there would be to take a coach to the nearest lakeside city and then a minibus to the lake.

The best lakeside destination in Tanzania is probably Matema or Mbamba Bay. The best lakeside destination in Mozambique is probably Cobue or Metangula.

For more info, check out my complete guide: How to Visit Beautiful Lake Malawi. Here, I detail exactly how to get there from each country as well as list more things to do.

5. Lake Tanganyika Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia

Located in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, the great Lake Tanganyika is the second oldest, second largest, and second deepest freshwater lake in the world. In all cases following Lake Baikal in Russia. Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake at 672 kilometers. This ancient lake is believed to have started forming around 9 million years ago.

Lake Tanganyika is also recognized for its outstanding biodiversity. The lake is home to hundreds of unique species of fish, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. You can also go on a safari or go chimpanzee trekking in the national parks along the shore.

Around half of the lake belongs to two of the least visited countries in the world, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. The other half of the lake belongs to Tanzania and Zambia.

Even though Lake Tanganyika is absolutely beautiful and has so much to offer, it doesn’t receive many tourists. Probably due to its remote location. The lake is not situated near any major tourist attractions or national parks. It’s an exotic destination. Security is a concern around parts of the lake.

Things to do at Lake Tanganyika

  • Go Fishing- Throw in a line and try your luck. There are 350 species of fish living in the lake. Know that fishing is banned on much of the lake between December and March. Catch and release fishing is recommended to keep fish populations healthy. You may need to pay for a fishing permit depending on which country you visit. It’s best to hire a guide.
  • Take a ferry across- The legendary 100-year-old MV Liemba ferry travelers between Mpulungu in Zambia and Kigoma in Tanzania about once per week.
  • Go scuba diving or snorkeling- Lake Tanganyika’s clear waters and diverse underwater ecosystem make it an excellent location for snorkeling and diving. Look out for the unique cichlid species that inhabit the lake. The Nile perch is another interesting species to look out for.
  • Take a Boat Tour: This is a great way to soak up the stunning views and possibly spot some wildlife.
  • Visit the islands- From Mpulungu, Zambia, you can visit the nearby islands of Mutondw and Kumbul. On the DRC side of the lake, Kavala Island is the most significant.
  • Visit Nsumbu National Park: Situated on the Zambian side of Lake Tanganyika, Nsumbu National Park covers about 2000 square kilometers, encompassing 100 km of some of the most pristine shores of the lake. The park offers an abundance of wildlife, including elephants, hippos, and various antelope species, as well as a wealth of birdlife.
  • Explore Kigoma Town: Located on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, Kigoma is a bustling town that serves as a gateway to the lake. There are several attractions here.
  • Visit Gombe Stream National Park: This small but important park is most famous for Jane Goodall’s pioneering studies of chimpanzee behavior. Visitors to Gombe can trek into the forest to observe these fascinating creatures in the wild, a truly unforgettable experience.
  • Visit Mahale Mountains National Park: Located south of Gombe Stream National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Mahale Mountains National Park is another perfect destination for primate lovers. Home to one of Africa’s largest populations of wild chimpanzees, the park offers an opportunity to trek and view these animals in their natural habitat. The backdrop of the Mahale Mountains and the sandy beaches make this park exceptionally beautiful.
  • Watersports- Go water skiing, tubing, or paddleboarding. You could also rent a kayak or a canoe and explore the lake on your own.
  • Relax on the Beaches: The sandy beaches around Lake Tanganyika are perfect for those who want to relax, sunbathe, or swim in the clear waters of the lake.

How to Get to Lake Tanganyika

Probably the most popular part of Lake Tanganyika to visit is the Zambian side at the town of Mpulungu. You can easily reach the lakeside town from the capital, Lusaka by bus or minibus.

In Tanzania, the easiest lakeside town to visit is Kigoma which can be accessed by train from Dar es Salaam. Bus service is also available.

Burundi’s capital and largest city Bujumbura sits on the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. There are a number of towns along the shore. The security situation in Burundi can change quickly. Currently, parts of the country are safe to travel and parts should be avoided due to political unrest and violent crime.

It’s not considered safe to visit the Congo side of Lake Tanganyika at this time. The security situation isn’t great. Hopefully, this will change in the future.

6. Lake Nakuru, Kenya

flamingos at Lake Nakuru, Kenya

Situated in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru is a small alkaline lake. It is protected by Lake Nakuru National Park. Lake Nakuru sits at an elevation of 5755 feet (1754 meters) about 155 km northwest of Nairobi.

This fascinating Great Rift Valley lake is famous for its wildlife. Particularly the millions of pink flamingos that come to nest along the shore. Sometimes, there are so many flamingoes in the lake that it actually gives the lake a pink hue when viewed from afar. Black rhinos have also been introduced to the national park.

Lake Nakuru is also recognized as a Ramsar site, indicating its global importance as a wetland. The lake’s alkaline water supports the Cyanophyta spirulina (a type of blue-green algae). This is a food source for the vast quantities of flamingos that inhabit the lake.

Things to do at Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru isn’t the kind of lake where you go sit around, relax, and go for a swim. The main draw here is the nature and wildlife.

  • Go on a game drive and view the wildlife in Lake Nakuru National Park- See the flamingos, black rhinos, Southern white rhinos, lions, baboons, giraffes, cheetas, leopards, waterbucks, as well as a multitude of bird species.
  • Go camping- There are several campgrounds along the shores to choose from. You can pitch a tent and enjoy the African night sky.
  • Take a hike- The landscape is quite unique and beautiful. For those who love a bit of adventure, a hike up Baboon Cliff. This hike offers a stunning view of the lake and its surrounding areas.
  • Visit Makalia Waterfalls– Located in the southern part of the park, Makalia Waterfalls is a great place to relax and enjoy the serene beauty of nature. The water from the falls flows into Lake Nakuru
  • Bird watching– Lake Nakuru is a paradise for bird lovers. The star attraction is the millions of flamingos that gather along the shores of the lake. Other bird species include African fish eagles, Goliath herons, hamerkops, and over 400 other bird species.
  • Photography– With its rich birdlife and stunning landscapes, Lake Nakuru is very picturesque. The sight of pink flamingos covering the lake makes for unforgettable photos.
  • Visit Lake Naivasha- This beautiful Great Rift Valley lake is located about 90 kilometers away from Lake Nakuru. You can get there in just a couple of hours by minibus or make a day trip out of it.

How to Visit Lake Nakuru

This lake is one of the easiest East African Rift Valley lakes to visit. From my favorite African city, Nairobi, catch a bus heading to the town of Nakuru. Many bus companies operate this route. I like Easy Coach.

You can also take a matatu (shared minibus) to save a bit of money. The ride between Nairobi and Nakuru takes about 3 hours. Once you arrive, you can hire a guide and driver or arrange a tour of Nakuru national park.

7. Lake Turkana Kenya and Ethiopia

This unique lake, spanning across Kenya’s Rift Valley Province and into Ethiopia, is the largest permanent desert lake in the world. It is also the largest alkaline lake in the world. The surrounding area is a desert made mostly of volcanic rocks. An aptly named island near the center of the lake, Central Island, is an active volcano.

Lake Turkana is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, acknowledged for its wealth of fossils that have contributed immensely to the study of human evolution. Some of the earliest humans inhabited this area. The area surrounding the lake has seen the discovery of hominid fossils, which are invaluable in understanding human ancestry.

Lake Turkana is relatively untouched due to the heat, lack of freshwater, and general uninhabitability of the region. Several national parks protect parts of the lake including Sibiloi National Park, Central Island National Park, and South Island National Park.

Unfortunately, the future of Lake Turkana is unknown. The Gilgel Gibe III Dam, which is currently being constructed on the Omo River in Ethiopia, will dam the river which supplies most of Turkana’s water.

What to do at Lake Turkana

  • Visit Central Island National Park- Located in the middle of Lake Turkana, the park comprises three active volcanic crater, which you can view. You can also see flamingos, crocodiles, and a vast array of bird species.
  • View the wildlife- Massive herds of hippos and Nile crocodiles inhabit the lake. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot a Turkana mud turtle which is a species that is endemic to the lake.
  • Visit the local tribes for a cultural experiences: You can visit a number of local communities such as the El Molo and Turkana people. Experience their rich culture, traditions, and their unique ways of life adapted to the harsh desert conditions.
  • Visit Sibiloi National Park- This fascinating but difficult to reach the national park is known for its palaeontological sites where many early human fossils have been found including those of Australopithecus. In 1997 this area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Koobi Fora: Known as the cradle of mankind, Koobi Fora is an important archaeological site located on the eastern shore of Lake Turkana in Sibioli National Park. A guided tour will take you through the area where numerous hominid and animal fossils have been discovered.
  • Take a boat tour: A boat trip is an ideal way to appreciate the vastness of the lake and spot some wildlife.
  • Go for a walk or hike- The volcanic geology is pretty unique and beautiful in its own way.
  • Birdwatch- Hundreds of species of birds inhabit the area around the lake including wood sandpiper, African skimmer, flamingo, and little stint.
  • Go to the beach- Near the village of Eliye, you can visit a small beach and even stay in the nearby resort. Sit out on the sand and enjoy the views.
  • Fishing: Hire a guide and try your hand at fishing in the lake. Nile perch and tilapia are some of the common species here.
  • Visit Eliye Springs: Also known as “Ilye”, this is a popular beach located on the western shore of Lake Turkana. The spring water is believed to have healing properties.

How to Visit Lake Turkana

The closest decent-sized city to Lake Turkana is Lodwar, Kenya. You can easily reach the city by bus from Nairobi. You may have to transfer in Eldoret or Kitale. If you’re on a budget, you could also get there by minibus. This will require a few transfers along the way.

Once you reach Lodwar, you can either organize a tour to Lake Turkana or take a minibus or shared taxi to one of the lakeside villages. From there, you can find a hotel, campsite, or lakeside resort to stay in. There really isn’t much infrastructure around Lake Turkana so be prepared to rough it a bit. It’s a pretty underdeveloped region.

8. Lake Naivasha, Kenya

hippo in Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake located just 100 km (about an hour and a half) northwest of Nairobi in the Kenyan Rift Valley. The lake is located at the highest point of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley at an elevation of 6181 feet (1884 meters). Lake Naivasha is shallow, with an average depth of just 20 feet (6 m). The land surrounding the lake is mostly swamp. It varies in size depending on the amount of rainfall.

Lake Naivasha is known for its wide variety of bird species and its population of hippos. The lake is surrounded by forests of yellow-barked acacia trees, which provide a picturesque backdrop against the blue waters. The lake’s cool climate and its proximity to other attractions such as Hell’s Gate National Park and Mount Longonot make it a popular destination.

A visit to Lake Naivasha makes for an excellent stopover while traveling West from Nairobi on your way to Maasai Mara, Western Kenya, or Uganda. The lake is close enough to Nairobi that you could even travel there on a day trip.

Things to do at Lake Naivasha

  • Visit Hell’s Gate National Park- This popular park is located just south of Lake Naivasha. It’s known for its wildlife and natural beauty. You can go for a hike or rent a bike and ride through the park and visit Fischer’s Tower, Hell’s Gate Gorge, and Central Tower. There is some great wildlife spotting opportunities here. Rock climbing is also a popular activity. Entry costs $26. No guide is necessary but you can hire one for around $15 if you prefer.
  • Go for a bike ride- Rent a bike in the town of Naivasha or from one of the locals near the lake and explore the area under your own power. Cycle along the lakeside or through Hell’s Gate National Park. Bike rental costs $5-$10 per day.
  • Go for a boat tour- Watch the hippos and see how many bird species you can spot. Pelicans and cranes are commonly found on the lake. Along the shore, you may spot a Cape Buffalo or other grazing animals.
  • Hike in nearby Mount Longonot National Park- The hike to the top of the mountain takes 4-5 hours and offers some incredible views of the Great Rift Valley.
  • Visit Crescent Island Game Sanctuary- This island offers a unique experience. Here, you can walk among the animals on a foot safari. There are no dangerous predators on the island. You’ll see zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, antelopes, and more. The entry price is a bit steep at $20 but it is a nice place to go for a walk.
  • Go birdwatching- Over 400 species of birds inhabit the lake and surrounding area. Look out for African fish eagles, ospreys, lily-trotters, and pelicans, among others.
  • Enjoy the floriculture- The Lake Naivasha region is known for its flourishing flower farms. Some farms allow visitors to tour and learn about the flower-growing process.
  • Visit Lake Nakuru- This beautiful Rift Valley lake is located only about 90 kilometers away. You can get there in a couple of hours or make a day trip out of it.

How to Visit Lake Naivasha

Getting there from Nairobi is easy. Coaches and matatu shared minibusses travel between Nairobi and the town of Naivasha all day. The ride takes 2-3 hours depending on how many stops the bus makes and traffic. A ticket costs 300-400 shillings (about $3-$4) depending on your negotiation skills.

For a bit more comfortable ride, I recommend you take a coach over a minibus. They offer more comfortable seating and aren’t overcrowded. If you must take a minibus, look for one with fewer seats. It will stop less and be less crowded.

9. Lake Edward, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lake Edward, situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, is one of the smaller East African Great Lakes. The lake is located in the Albertine Rift just a few kilometers south of the equator. Lake Edward straddles the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is completely surrounded by national parks. The lake is named after Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales

Queen Elizabeth National Park surrounds the Uganda side of the lake. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Virunga National Park surrounds the DR Congo side of the lake.

This truly unique region contains some of the most biodiverse land on the planet. The lake itself is home to numerous species of fish. The surrounding area is home to the beautiful yet critically endangered mountain gorillas. The Lake Edward region contains some of the best wildlife viewing in all of Africa.

Elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

Things to do at Lake Edward

Because the lake is contained completely within national parks, activities are limited and regulated. There aren’t many human settlements on the shores of Lake Edward. The benefit of this is the fact that the lake is kept pretty pristine. A few lakeside activities include:

  • Go on a safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park- The park contains all of the ‘big 5’ African safari animals. While the natural landscape is less impressive than the Serengeti in Tanzania, all of the same animals are there. You can spot elephants, lions, buffalo, and a range of bird species.
  • Visit Virunga National ParkBordering Lake Edward in the DRC, Virunga National Park is Africa’s oldest national park. The park is rich in biodiversity with lush rainforests, savannahs, and active volcanoes. It is also home to critically endangered mountain gorillas. A guided gorilla trek is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can also hike Nyiragongo, which is an active volcano.
  • Visit the Rwenzori Mountains- Known as the “Mountains of the Moon,” the Rwenzori Mountains are a short distance from Lake Edward, in Uganda. They offer stunning hiking trails with magnificent views.
  • Boat cruise- Experience Lake Edward’s beauty by taking a boat trip. It’s a perfect way to observe the abundant wildlife, particularly hippos and birds.  
  • Bird Watching: With both Lake Edward and the surrounding parks hosting an array of bird species, bird lovers will be in their element.
  • Fishing: Fishing is a popular activity on Lake Edward. You’ll find species like catfish and Nile perch. Hire a local guide and try your luck.
  • Watch the sunset over the lake- There are a few lodges on or near the lake within Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can catch some stunning African sunsets here.

How to Visit Lake Edward

Because Lake Edward is surrounded by national parks, pretty much have to visit on a tour. Both Queen Elizabeth National Park and Virunga National Park require that you have a guide with you while visiting. There is no self-drive option.

To organize a tour of the Uganda side of Lake Edward, you can book a safari in person or online. Plenty of companies offer safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Uganda. Tours start around $350.

It’s also possible to organize your own safari. From one of the nearby towns outside of the national park, you can book your own accommodation and arrange a guide and vehicle. This may or may not save you a bit of money.

Visiting the DR Congo side of the lake takes a bit more effort. The visa can be an issue and there are numerous safety concerns to consider when visiting Congo. You’ll also have to book a tour with a guide to visit the park.

To book a Safari in Virunga National Park, you’ll have to go through the official Virunga National Park website.

Getting a DR Congo visa is notoriously difficult. Luckily, tourists who book a tour through an accepted tour operator can get a 2 week visa relatively easily. This is due to an agreement between the Congolese wildlife authority and the Department of Migration. It’s important to note that the park occasionally shuts down due to security threats.

10. Lake Tana, Ethiopia

Located in the highlands of northern Ethiopia, Lake Tana isn’t technically part of the Great Rift Valley. I decided to include it anyway because it’s in the same general region and it’s simply a fascinating place.

Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia. It is also the source of the Blue Nile. It was formed by volcanic activity in the region around 5 million years ago. Lake Tana is a shallow lake with a maximum depth of around 49 feet (15 meters).

Lake Tana is renowned not only for its natural beauty but also for its historical and spiritual significance. The lake is home to around 37 islands, many of which host ancient monasteries and churches. These date as far back as the 13th century. These islands have served as sanctuaries of Coptic Christianity and are replete with biblical murals, relics, and royal treasures. It’s a fascinating place to explore.

What to do at Lake Tana

  • Visit the monasteries- Take a boat tour to explore the historic island monasteries around the lake. These beautifully painted monasteries date back to the 13th century. They are constructed from mud and bamboo. From Bahir Dar, you can organize a boat tour across the lake to visit. The two most important monasteries to visit are Ura Kidane Mere, the largest, and Bete Maryam, the oldest. Various other monasteries surround the lake including Daga Estifanos and Tana Cherkos. Each monastery is a showcase of rich Ethiopian Christian heritage.
  • Visit the Blue Nile Falls- These spectacular waterfalls are located about 50 minutes by car south of Bahir Dar on the Blue Nile River, near Lake Tana. The falls are particularly stunning during the rainy season.
  • Explore the city of Bahir Dar– The city offers a vibrant market, palm-lined avenues. It’s a great base for exploring Lake Tana.
  • Go for a walk along the shore- From Bahir Dar, you can take a stroll on several trails along the lake.
  • Stay at a resort on the lake- Various resorts and lodges sit on the shore of the lake. Some are better than others.
  • Bird Watching– The wetlands of Lake Tana are home to numerous bird species. Bird lovers will have a chance to spot pelicans, kingfishers, storks, and various species of plover.
  • Take a lake cruise: A boat trip on Lake Tana is a great way to appreciate its size, enjoy the surrounding scenery, and observe life around the lake.

How to Get to Lake Tana

Lake Tana lies in the Northwest of Ethiopia in the Amhara region. The largest city on the lake is the popular tourist destination of Bahir Dar. The city can easily be reached from Addis Ababa by bus or air.

The best bus company offering this route is called Selam Bus. They operate a daily service between the two cities. The service is reliable, safe, and relatively comfortable. They have newer coaches with air conditioning.

If you prefer to fly, Ethiopian Airlines offers direct flights between Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar.

11. Lake Albert, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Lake Albert, Uganda

Another East African Great Lake, Lake Albert is the Northernmost lake of the Western Rift Valley. It lies between Uganda and DR Congo. Lake Albert is fairly shallow with a maximum depth of around 190 feet or 60 meters.

Things to do at Lake Albert

  • Visit Murchison Falls National Park- Located on the northern shore of Lake Albert, this national park offers beautiful landscapes, wildlife viewing, and a spectacular waterfall on the Victoria Nile River.
  • Visit Semuliki National Park- Located on the southern shore of Lake Albert, this national park is made up mostly of marshland. The area is excellent for birdwatching. See if you can spot the rare shoebill stork or a number of other endemic bird species which inhabit the area.
  • Go fishing- 55 species of fish live in Lake Albert. It is estimated that about 30% of Uganda’s fish production comes from the lake. You can hire a guide to fish for catfish or a number of other species.
  • Visit Bugungu Wildlife Reserve- This park lies on the shore of the lake, just west of Murchison Falls national park. Here, you can view several species of wildlife including buffalo, hippos, leopards, antelope, warthogs, dik-diks, reed bucks, and more.
  • Go birdwatching- over 240 species of birds inhabit the Lake Albert region
  • Visit Bugoma Forest- This lowland tropical forest is home to 23 species of mammals including about 500 chimpanzees. Unfortunately, deforestation and illegal logging threaten the reserve. 

How to Visit Lake Albert

Lake Albert is a bit tricky to visit as there aren’t any major towns on the shores. The area is also one of the hotter and more impoverished regions in Uganda. There are, however, a handful of popular destinations near the lake.

To get to Lake Albert from Kampala, you could take a bus to Hoima, one of the larger towns in the region. From there, you could take a minibus north to Murchison National Park or Bugungu Wildlife Reserve. There are also a few lakeside towns that you could access by minibus such as Butaiba.

You can also access the lake’s southern shore. The nearest larger city is Fort Portal. You can get there by bus from Kampala. From Fort Portal, you can catch a minibus toward the lake.

12. Lake Rukwa, Tanzania

In the southwestern part of Tanzania, within the Great Rift Valley, lies the alkaline Lake Rukwa. This endorheic lake is known for its fluctuating size due to variable inflows and evaporation. Spanning a surface area that can vary between 1,040 and 5,760 square kilometers, it is the country’s third-largest inland body of water.

Lake Rukwa’s isolation and unpredictability have led to the evolution of unique species. This makes it an intriguing destination for those seeking to get off the beaten track in Eastern Africa. The lake is set amidst a vast savanna, flanked by Miombo woodland. Its waters host an array of fish species, including several types of cichlids found nowhere else in the world.

Things to Do at Lake Rukwa

  • Visit Uwanda Game Reserve– Located adjacent to the lake, this lesser-visited game reserve hosts animals like lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos, and more.
  • Bird watching– Lake Rukwa and its surrounding wetlands are a haven for birdlife, with species such as the pink-backed pelican and the African fish eagle calling the area home.
  • Fishing: Hire a local guide and experience local fishing techniques with an excursion on the lake.
  • Cultural visits: Meet the local Fipa people living in villages around the lake, learn about their traditional ways of life, and gain insights into their cultural practices.
  • Wildlife Spotting: While the lake’s remoteness and surrounding terrain may present challenges, the adventurous traveler might encounter animals such as crocodiles, hippos, and a variety of antelope species in the area.

Lake Rukwa is pretty remote. The nearest large city is Mbeya, in southern Tanzania, near the Malawi border. You can travel to Mbeya by bus from Dar es Salaam. From Mbeya, you can access the lake in a couple of hours.

13. Lake Kyoga, Uganda

Located in Northern Uganda, this large, shallow lake is part of the Great Rift Valley but is not considered to be a great lake. Lake Kyoga is fed by the Victoria Nile. Water flows in from Lake Victoria and then flows out to Lake Albert.

Lake Kyoga is reaches a maximum depth of just 5.7 meters. This shallow lake features a complex of wetlands and numerous islands. It is encircled by the swampy shoreline that is covered in papyrus. This creates a unique and diverse ecosystem for a wide array of flora and fauna.

A visit to Lake Kyoga offers travelers a chance to experience the serene, natural beauty of East Africa, untouched by mass tourism. The lake is a habitat for various fish species, and the surrounding marshes and swamps teem with birds and other wildlife, making it an attractive spot for nature lovers. Lake Kyoga is a bit of an under-the-radar gem.

Things to do at Lake Kyoga

Lake Kyoga isn’t really a popular tourist destination. Having said that, there are a few interesting things to do on and near the lake.

  • Go fishing- Lake Kyoga is an excellent location for sport fishing. 46 species of fish live in the lake including Nile perch, catfish, and lungfish You can hire a guide and try your luck.
  • Go birdwatching- The lake’s wetlands and marshes are a sanctuary for a wide range of bird species. Look out for species like African fish eagles, malachite kingfishers, and various herons and egrets. Keep an eye out for the rare Fox Weaver.
  • Take a boat cruise- Take a boat trip to explore the lake’s extensive system of channels and small islands. This provides a unique opportunities to observe aquatic life and enjoy the tranquility of the lake. Keep an eye out for wildlife like the Nile Crocodile and various species of birds. The lake is pretty scenic as well.
  • Visit the local villages- Around the lake are several fishing communities. Visiting these communities gives you a chance to experience local way of life, customs, and traditions.
  • Visit the Nyero rock paintings- This ancient site is located near Lake Kyoga. This is the oldest rock painting in Uganda.
  • Nature walks- The lake’s surroundings offer beautiful landscapes for a nature walk, where you can enjoy the region’s flora and fauna. Be sure to bring your camera. This is a great destination for photographers.

Lake Kyoga is located about 135 Km from Kampala. You can easily travel there by local bus from the capital.

14. Lake Natron, Tanzania

Lake Natron is located in northern Tanzania, within the eastern branch of the Great Rift Valley. This is a saline or soda lake that is fed by mineral-rich hot springs. Lake Natron is famous for its vibrant red and orange waters. The unique hue is a result of microorganisms that thrive in the high-salinity environment, coupled with the alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake.

Lake Natron is particularly renowned as a breeding ground for the lesser flamingos. Nearly three quarters of the world’s population of these flamingos are born on the lake’s salty surface, making it an ecologically significant area.

Things to do at Lake Natron

  • Flamingo Watching– During the breeding season, the lake is filled with hundreds of thousands of lesser flamingos. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle for bird watchers and photographers.
  • Visit the Hot Springs- The Engare Sero Hot Springs is a great place to relax and take a refreshing dip. The spring is also perfect for a picnic, surrounded by beautiful landscapes.
  • Hiking and Trekking– For the adventurous, Lake Natron offers several trekking routes. The hike to the Ngare Sero Waterfall, located in the nearby gorge, is highly recommended.
  • Photography– The unique color of Lake Natron and its surrounding landscapes offer abundant opportunities for photographers. The sight of countless pink flamingos against the red and orange backdrop of the lake is especially breathtaking.
  • Climb Ol Doinyo Lengai: This active volcano, known as “The Mountain of God” in the Maasai language, offers challenging climbs and a unique perspective of the Great Rift Valley.
  • Visit Local Maasai Communities: Get an insight into the traditional ways of the Maasai, one of the most well-known indigenous groups in Africa.

Lake Natron is pretty remote. You can reach the lake by road in about 2 hours from Ngorongoro. The road is bumpy and slow. This makes it convenient to visit before or after taking a safari in the Serengeti. It’s also possible to fly to Lake Natron from Arusha. The flight takes about a hour.

15. Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya, Ethiopia

Nile Crocodile on a lake shore in Africa

These two Rift Valley lakes are located just a couple of miles apart near the town of Arba Minch in southwestern Ethiopia. Even though they are located very close to each other, the lakes have very different limnology.

Lake Abaya is the largest Ethiopian Rift Valley lake. It is situated north of Lake Chamo. Lake Abaya’s surface area spans about 1,162 square kilometers. Lake Abaya is surrounded by savannah and is known for its wildlife. The lake has murky brownish-red waters. This is the result of high sediment concentration. Lake Abaya is rich in fish species and supports a considerable population of Nile crocodiles. The southern end of the lake is part of Nechisar National Park to the ea

Lake Chamo is much smaller. It covers an area of 317 square kilometers. Lake Chamo is known for its biodiversity. The northern part of the lake is part of Nechisar National Park.The lake is mostly surrounded by wetlands. Lake Chamo is famous for its “crocodile market”. Here, large numbers of crocodiles gather on the banks. The lake is also teeming with hippos and various bird species. It also offers some of the best fishing in Ethiopia.

Things to do at Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya

  • Visit Crocodile Market on Lake Chamo- Here, you can see Nile Crocodiles in their natural habitat. You’ll also see hippos and various species of aquatic birds. You can take a boat ride as well to get a better view.
  • Visit Nechisar National Park- This park covers the southern part of Lake Abaya and the northern part of Lake Chamo. This includes an area known as the ‘Bridge of God’ which is the isthmus between the two lakes. This is a great place to view wildlife. You can see zebra, gazelle, baboons, dik-dik, and crocodiles as well as a large number of birds including pelicans, storks, and kingfishers. It’s also an excellent place for bird watching.
  • Go for a boat ride- A boat trip on Lake Chamo is an absolute must. It’s the best way to see the crocodile market, as well as hippos and a variety of bird species.
  • Fishing: Lake Chamo and lake Abaya offer excellent opportunities for fishing, with species like Nile perch and tigerfish being common.
  • Visit the islands- Both lakes have a number of small islands that you can visit. The largest is Aruro island on Lake Abaya.
  • Hiking- The area around Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya offers several trails that provide stunning views of the lakes and their surroundings.
  • Visit Arba Minch– Just to the west of the lakes lies the city of Arba Minch. This city serves as a great base for exploring the area. Visit the local market and try some traditional Ethiopian cuisine. It’s a nice little town to wander around for a couple of hours.

How to Get to Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya

The best way to visit Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya is to take a bus from Addis Ababa to Arba Minch. The town lies on the southern shore of Lake Abaya. Lake Chamo lies just down the road to the south. You could easily visit both lakes in one day and then return to Arba Minch.

After visiting the lakes consider continuing to the Omo Valley. You can catch a bus directly to the town of Jinka. Alternatively, you can catch a bus south to Moyale, the border with Kenya. From there, you can catch a bus to Nairobi.

16. Lake Bogoria, Kenya

Flamingos in Lake Bogoria, Kenya

Lake Bogoria, situated in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, is a saline, alkaline lake that stretches approximately 34 km long. This lake is famous for housing one of the largest populations of lesser flamingos in the world. Lake Bogoria is a Ramsar site and is a protected national reserve in Kenya.

Lake Bogoria lies just north of the equator in a volcanic region of the rift valley. Due to the volcanic activity, multiple geysers and hot springs can be found around the shores of the lake.

The lake is surrounded by the Lake Bogoria National Reserve, a protected area that is home to many animal species.

The easiest way to get to the lake from Nairobi would probably be to take a bus or matatu to Nakuru and then transfer to a northbound bus. 

Things to do at Lake Bogoria

  • View the flamingos- At times the population can reach numbers of up to 2 million individuals. They don’t live there all the time. They divide their time between several lakes in the region including Lake Nakuru, Lake Logipi, and Lake Magadi. Their pink hue against the turquoise water of the lake creates a beautiful contrast.
  • Go wildlife viewing in Bogoria National Reserve- This semi-arid park was opened in 1970. Here, you can spot wildlife such as the Greater Kudu, zebra, buffalo, cheetah, baboon, impala, and more. There are also over 135 species of birds living in the reserve.
  • Go camping- Several campgrounds can be found near the shore of the lake. This is a peaceful and beautiful place to camp.
  • Watch the geysers erupt and visit the hot springs- The geothermal activity under the lake fuels hot springs and geysers that intermittently spray water and steam, an exciting display of natural power. Some guysers can spew water up to 5 meters high. The geyser activity depends on the water level of the lake.

17. Lake Kariba, Zambia and Zimbabwe

This isn’t a Rift Valley lake but I thought I’d add it to the list because it’s in the same general region. Lake Kariba is actually the world’s largest man-made lake by volume. The lake stretches over 220 kilometers long and up to 40 kilometers in width. It lies on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The lake is very new. It was filled up between 1958 and 1963 with the damming of the Zambezi River. The lake was created by Kariba Dam. The dam now supplies power for Zambia and Zimbabwe. The lake is the result of the flooding of the Kariba Gorge on the Zambesi River. Lake Kariba covers 5,580 square kilometers.

The lake is surrounded by natural reserves and national parks, offering a bounty of wildlife, including elephants, lions, cheetahs, and abundant birdlife. It’s a great place for a safari. There is also some great fishing in Lake Kariba.

Things to do on Lake Kariba

  • Go fishing for Tigerfish- These fish are indigenous to the Zambesi River. Fishing for tigerfish is a popular activity for both locals and tourists due to their strong and feisty nature. They put up a great fight. The biggest event on the lake is the annual tiger fishing competition in May. Other species of fish in the lake include bream, tilapia, and karpenta. If you plan to fish, make sure you have the proper permit and know the fishing regulations. If you fish from shore, don’t stand too close to the water as crocodiles are common in Lake Kariba. 
  • Wildlife Viewing and Safari Cruises– Take a boat tour on Lake Kariba for a chance to spot hippos, crocodiles, and the numerous bird species that inhabit the area.
  • Stay in a houseboat- Renting a houseboat is a popular way to experience the tranquility of Lake Kariba see some spectacular sunsets.
  • Visit Matusadona National Park- This park, located on the Zimbabwe side of the lake, is home to the ‘big 5.’ It’s located near the town of Kariba. Here, you can spot elephants, lions, leopards, and a variety of antelope species. It’s an excellent place for game drives and walking safaris.
  • Take a boat ride- Look for wildlife and experience the unique scenery of the lake. You can also participate in your favorite water sports like kayaking, sailing, and water skiing.
Sunset on an African lake

My Experience Visiting the Great Rift Valley

During my travels in Africa, I’ve visited quite a few of the Great Rift Valley lakes. So far, my favorite lake has to be Lake Bunyonyi in Southwestern Uganda. It’s not the biggest or most famous lake but it is absolutely stunning. The islands and terraced hills surrounding the lake are spectacular. I also really enjoyed Lake Kivu in Rwanda. Relaxing by the lake and watching the sunset was unforgettable. Lake Malawi is another favorite.

The Great Rift Valley region between Ethiopia and Malawi contains dozens of spectacular lakes to explore. Going to the lake is a great way to get away from the city. East African Rift Valley lakes are picturesque. Lakeside towns are usually very relaxed. This guide outlines all of the most popular. Which lakes you choose to visit comes down to what kinds of activities you enjoy.

Some of the smaller lakes are almost exclusively for wildlife viewing. Many of the larger lakes offer a range of activities including boating, diving, swimming, fishing, and sailing. Whichever lake you decide to visit, I hope this guide has helped you decide.

Have you visited any of the Great Rift Valley lakes of East Africa? Share your tips and experience in the comments below!

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Friday 11th of August 2023

Great article.The actual floor of the rift valley is more than 5 kilometers (3 miles) deep. Lake Baikal also has the largest volume of liquid freshwater in the world.


Tuesday 2nd of May 2023

Very Educative

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