Also referred as Edward Nyanza or Rutanzige and traditionally as Mwitanzigye (killer of locusts), Lake Edward is considered the smallest of the many African Great Lakes and is situated within the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley region, the western arm of the Great/East African Rift that lies on the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo border overlooking the legendary Mountains of the Moon (Rwenzori Mountains) with the highest snow-capped peak rising to 5109 meters above sea level.
The Northern shores of Lake Edward are some few kilometers south of the Equator and has numerous primary inflows including Rivers Lubilia, Nyamugasani, Rutshuru, Ishasha, Ntungwe and Rwindi while it empties its waters to the north through River Semliki into Lake Albert. Located within Kasese District in western Uganda, the total Surface Area is this Lake is 2325 square kilometers (898 square miles) while its maximum length is 77 kilometers (48 miles), width is 40 kilometers (25 miles) and is about 112 meters (367 feet) deep. There are two National Parks bordering the shores of Lake Edward and they include Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (the north-western shores of the Lake) and the Queen Elizabeth National Park (north-eastern shores).
This spectacular Rift Valley Lake lies at an altitude of 920 meters (3020 feet) above sea level and is the 15th largest Lake within the African Continent. However, the western escarpment of the Great Rift Valley stands at an elevation of 2000 meters (6600 feet) above sea level rising above its southern and eastern shores that are generally characterized by flat lava plains. Tourists who visit this Lake are rewarded with the breathtaking views of the Rwenzori Mountains that are only 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the Lake.
Just like most beautiful attractions in the African Continent, Lake Edward attracted the interest of popular European Explorers including Henry Morton Stanley who is said to have first seen the Lake in 1888 during the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition. This Lake was named after Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and son to then British Queen Victoria who later became King Edward VII. However, it was renamed Lake Idi Amin by the Uganda and Zaire Government (former Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1973 after former President of Uganda-Idi Amin Dada but after he was overthrown in 1979, it regained its original name.
In the past 500 years, a number of volcanic activities were recorded within the region, with the two immense ones being Bunyaruguru Volcanic fields near a 32-kilometer long Kazinga channel on the north-western edge of the Lake and the Katwe-Kikorongo volcanic fields. Lakes George and Edward that are adjacent to each other were one of the larger Lakes in the past but the Lava that flowed from the nearby fields as well as the Maya-ya-Moto and Nyamulagira Volcanoes flowed in and separated the two, leaving the Kazinga Channel that connects the two.
Flora and Fauna within and around Lake Edward
There are several animals that live or visit the banks of Lake Edward and they include elephants, buffaloes, crocodiles, lions, antelopes and chimpanzees that are generally protected within Queen Elizabeth National Park. Not only that, the Lake and its surrounding areas are haven to numerous migratory and perennial species of birds.
Also, Lake Edward offers shelter to several fish species including over 50 species of Haplochromis, 25 species of Haplochromine, Bagrus docmak, Sarotherodon leucostictus and Sarotherodon niloticus and many others, hence making fishing one of the most important activities among the local residents.
In addition to Lake Edward, Queen Elizabeth National Park is famous for other beautiful places worth exploring that include the Ishasha sector (known for the tree climbing lions), Kyambura gorge (home to the Chimpanzees), Kasenyi Plains, Lake George, Maramagambo forest, Mweya Peninsula and the Kazinga Channel.