Uganda’s Main Rivers

Murchison Nile
It’s an energetic river that powers the mighty placid stream that flows peacefully across the rift valley floor to seep through a papyrus delta into Lake Albert. Murchison Falls. However, the final plunge over the falls drains the river’s energy, transforming it into a broad and main attraction is sport fishing. It is home to some gargantuan Nile Perch    that tip the scales to over 100kg. Regular competitions held here attract anglers from all over the world. The thrill of the sport no doubt is from the satisfaction of a worthy specimen but even the heightened anticipation and suspense do lend to it.

River Nile
This is the father of African rivers doubling also as the world’s longest river; River Nile.It is the longest river in the world. It journeys 6,650km before reaching Egypt and the Mediterranean where it empties. It is a lifeline for agriculture and consequently human survival in Egypt. The Nile has two sources; the White Nile and Blue Nile which flow from Lake Victoria near Jinja and from Tana in Ethiopia.

Sprinting out of Lake Victoria in Jinja is the Victoria Nile. The Victoria Nile is the stretch of the Nile that flows through southern Uganda. It continues northward to swampy Lake Kyoga, turns west over Murchison Falls- Murchison Nile, and empties into Lake Albert, and the Albert Nile then proceeds to Sudan on it’s long journey. As we cheer it on it runs northward through Lake Kyoga turning west and flowing into Lake Albert. It emerges out of L. Albert as the Albert Nile (also whispered to be called Mobutu Nile-lol). It runs on to Nimule at the Uganda-S.Sudan border and once in S.Sudan it is referred to as the Mountain Nile. We bid it farewell I imagine with calabashes, whistles and lots of ululations allowing it to join the Blue Nile all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

At the source, the white Nile, besides the sights several exhilarating water sports are undertaken such as kayaking besides others.

Our country has been associated with the Nile for years that it even appears on our Coat of Arms. The blue lines at the bottom of the Coat of Arms is the River Nile.

R. Semiliki
It’s very spectacular. It meanders like a silver snake. It is fairly long and empties into Lake Albert. After leaving Lake Edward, the river journeys through dense forest and tumbles down a series of rapids, then open savannah grasslands and meandering even more, as it approaches and reaches Lake Albert.

River Katonga the longest one of the rivers that flow wholly within Uganda is 220km long and starts it’s graceful dance at Lake Victoria flowing northward into Lake Wamala and then westward emptying itself into Lake George. Over 40 species of mammals and 150 species of birds call the Katonga basin their home. In this river basin you will commonly see elephants, waterbuck, reedbuck, colobus monkey and the river otter.

Rising from the Kitoma swamp in Kibaale district is River Kafu the second longest river flowing wholly in Uganda. It dances and changes beat along its journey as it flows through the districts of Luwero, Nakaseke, Kyankwanzi, Hoima and Masindi emptying itself into the Victoria Nile at Masindi Port. This river has got two tributaries; River Mayanja and River Lugogo.

The adventurer is sure to see one or more of the following in the Kafu river basin; the East African Sitatunga, East African Bush Duiker, East African Bohor Reedbuck, Nile Bushbuck, Uganda Defassa Waterbuck, Common Oribi, bush pig and the leopard.

The story of River Sezibwa our third longest river wholly in Uganda is an interesting one. Local legend in Buganda has it that a woman- Nakkungu Tebatuusa gave birth to twins but they were rivers… I know; right? The younger one Bwanda took the obstacle free path and flowed eastward to his mother’s village. The older twin flowed west and overcame, more like defied a number of obstacles. A local saying sizibwa kkubo to mean no obstacle can stop me from moving along was used to refer to this river. One of the obstacles it flowed over are the Sezibwa Falls. These I shall tell you about next time.

Shrouded in a bit of border conflict is River Semliki which we share with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Starting at Lake Edward in Kasese District it flows along the border with DRC into Lake Albert. Due to changing weather patterns the path of this river has been altered a little bit. It “ate” up some land as the locals say to the point that some farmers now have to cross over to DRC to cultivate land that their forefathers cultivated transport free. It has apparently almost “eaten” a kilometre into Uganda shifting our border line. Our Semuliki National Park gets its name from this river. About 400 bird species call this river basin home.

Somewhere between the northern plateaux of Uganda and the North Eastern highlands the River Achwa does its dance. It makes it way to the Ugandan border, crosses into S.Sudan changes its name to River Aswa and joins the White Nile as they dance along on their journey

River Suam as it is known in Uganda starts it’s journey at the top of Mount Elgon at the border with Kenya.I can almost hear whistles and drums starting it off on its journey. It descends into Kenya and is from that point onwards known as River Turkwei. This river’s journey ends in Lake Turkana in Kenya.

This next river I was hesitant to talk about. I initially felt it was trying to take something away from our land but then I changed my mind as I will explain shortly. You see the River Nile is believed to have several head streams and this happens to be the farthest of them all. From somewhere in the hills of Burundi is Akagera or River Kagera whose dance I imagine  starts off with the loud drums and lots of ankle bells setting it on its course. It flows through Rwanda and then pours into Lake Victoria. My comfort was in the discovery that the Nile proper rises from Lake Victoria in Jinja, Uganda and so here we are talking about River Kagera. Ha ha ha. On a rather sad note during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide bodies were thrown into Kagera river and they kept flowing into Lake Victoria. While it made the water unsafe for some time it opened the eyes of the world to what exactly was going on.