Lake Nabugabo Beach, Camping and Birding

With the District of Masaka in Central Uganda lies the small freshwater Lake referred as Lake Nabugabo, the satellite Lake of the renowned Lake Victoria and is only 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away from the shores of this vast Lake.

With a total surface area of 220 square kilometers (22000 hectares/54,000 acres), Lake Nabugabo is one of the smallest freshwater Lakes in this naturally endowed country but at an elevation of 1180 meters (3870 feet) above sea level. The lake’s maximum length and width are 8.2 kilometers/5.1 miles and 5 kilometers/3.1 miles respectively but is said to be formed from the effect of sand dunes resulting from strong winds that separated part of Lake Victoria by a sand bar, leading to the formation of what is now known as Lake Nabugabo. This Lake was listed as a Ramsar site in 2004 and is under the management of the Masaka District Local Government due to its rich biodiversity.

Surprisingly, studies on the 2.7 meters-long sediment core close to the middle of the Lake proved that Lake Nabugabo was indeed separated from the expansive Lake Victoria about 5000 years ago.  This Ramsar site (since 11th February 2004) is considered a significant area for the local communities living around the water body as well as their animals.

However, high population densities and the over-reliance on subsistence agriculture as reflected in their dependency on the Lake ecosystem have tremendously affected the quality of water and volume of the water. Worse still, the poor agricultural practices have negatively affected the quality of water and overall food production of areas around Lake Nabugabo.

Exceptional species of flora and fauna within and around Lake Nabugabo

There are about 300 species of flora within the area including two endemic flowering plants not found in other places while 14 extraordinary species in Uganda can be spotted in the surrounding areas. Interestingly, Nabugabo is popular for its dominance of carnivorous flora species and is surrounded by the Loudetia swamp, especially to the north, and also features the Miscanthidium papyrus as well as the Sphagnum swamps.

Also, the native fish (Cichlidae) can be sighted in the Lake in addition to other species that were introduced into the Lake in the 1950s such as Tilapia zillii, Oreochromis niloticus and Oreochromis leucostictus among others. When it comes to wildlife, you would never believe that Lake Nabugabo offers shelter to several mammal species including the swamp dwelling sitatunga and Hippos in addition to over 281 bird species including several aquatic bird species such as the grey crowned cranes, Pied Kingfishers, Herons and Malachite kingfishers among others. Besides the water birds, this Lake is popular for being a significant stop-over point for several migratory birds. Some of the activities to experience here include swimming (because the Lake is Bilharzia free), beach activities, bird watching and canoe rides among others.

How to Get to Lake Nabugabo

This small Lake is only 150 kilometers west of Lake Mburo, approximately 20 kilometers from Masaka Town, and just three hour’s drive from Kampala City. The lake shores can be accessed courtesy of a self-drive car rental in Uganda or public transport means.