River Katonga

In Uganda

Extending for a length of 220 kilometers, River Katonga is found within south-western Uganda and acts as a continuous channel between Lake George and Victoria, a proof that it once drained from Lake Victoria into Lake George along with its whole length.

Effects of local uplifting events between the two mentioned Lakes together with the western limb (also the Albertine Rift) of the geologically active East African Rift Valley system made the wetland region to the south-western side of Lake Wamala to form the new watershed for Katonga River that now predominantly flows East into Lake Victoria, increased by a number of tributaries along its course.

The source of this River is found within Lukaya, in Kalungu District (in Central Uganda and not Kanungu of western Uganda) with Longitude of 31.9111 and Latitude of -0.1222. While on its course westwards, River Katonga forms the boundaries of different districts that include Butambala, Ibanda, Bukomansimbi, Gomba, Kalungu, Kiruhura, Sembabule, Mityana, Kamwenge, Mpigi and Mubende Districts.

The wetland watershed where the River derives its waters lies at approximately 0°13’N 30°39’E near the famous Katonga Wildlife Reserve, found at approximately 120 kilometers from Lake Victoria.  During the rainy season (March to May and October to November), the levels of water rise in the proximity of the swampy watershed hence sometimes forcing some water to flow west from this point into the western side of Katonga River that feeds Lake George.

Vegetation around River Katonga

The area around River Katonga and the nearby Katonga Wildlife Reserve is characterized by savannah mixed with acacia scrubland or woodlands. Also, the largest part of the Reserve has either seasonal or permanent wetlands but there are also patches of tropical forest and river line.

The Katonga Wildlife Reserve is a haven to more than 40 species of mammals including warthogs, reedbucks, elephants, buffaloes, Sitatunga, water chevrotains, bushbucks, olive baboons, leopards, topis, zebras, duikers, vervet monkeys, Hippos, impalas, black and white colobus monkeys, waterbucks, River otters and Uganda Kobs among others. Also, over 150 species of birds call the forests, savannah plains and wetlands of Katonga Wildlife Reserve home but the common ones include the saddle-billed storks, African fish eagles and kingfishers among others. This river’s wildlife and bird species as well as the beautiful scenery and history (including the NRM Guerilla war) add up the worth of this River hence making it one of the must visit places in Uganda.

Therefore, besides the big five animals, primates (especially mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and golden monkeys) and birds species that many tourists know Uganda for, Rivers especially the Katonga River exist to spice up tourists’ safari experiences.

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