Lake Victoria – located west of Serengeti National Park and within driving distance of it, this natural wonder has a surface area of 68,800 sq. km. and is Africa’s largest lake. It’s also the planet’s second-largest freshwater lake (only North America’s Lake Superior is larger). The Lake is within three countries: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
During the 19th century, Europeans’ search for the source of the Nile River led to the sighting of the lake by the British explorer John Hanning Speke in 1858. Formerly known to the Arabs as Ukerewe, the lake was named by Speke in honor of Queen Victoria of England. A detailed survey of the lake was made by Sir William Garstin in 1901. Plans for gradually raising the level of the lake’s waters were completed in 1954 with the construction of the Owen Falls Dam (now the Nalubaale Dam) on the Victoria Nile at Jinja, Uganda. The dam provides hydroelectric power on a large scale and made the lake a vast reservoir. A second dam, Kiira, was later constructed 0.6 mile (1 km) from Nalubaale. It was completed in 1999 and began producing hydroelectric power the next year.