Uganda’s geography & climate is defined by its location in the basin of the east and west wings of the Great East Africa Rift Valley. Uganda lies on the elevated basin which rises between the eastern and western branches of the Great Rift Valley. Most of the country is over 1,000 meters in altitude, and topography is generally flat as you move west to east.
The most mountainous part of Uganda is the Kigezi region in the southwest. North of Kigezi, on the Congolese border, the 70×30 kilometers Rwenzori Mountains form the highest mountain range in Africa. On Mount Stanley, Margherita Peak (5,109 meters) is the highest point in the Rwenzori, only exceeded in altitude by the free-standing Mount Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Other large mountains in Uganda include the volcanic Virunga range on the border with Rwanda and DRC and Mount Elgon, a vast extinct volcano straddling the Kenya border. There are several smaller volcanic mountains in the north and east.
Except for the semi-desert in the extreme northeast, most Uganda is well watered and fertile. Almost 25% of the country’s surface area is covered by water.
Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world, is shared between Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Lakes Albert, Edward, and George lie close to the DRC border, and the marshy and ill-defined lake Kyoga lies in the center of Uganda.
At Jinja, on Lake Victoria shore, next to the Owen Falls (now submerged by the Owen Falls Dam), is regarded as the official source of the Nile, the world’s longest river. The Nile also passes through lakes Kyoga and Albert.
Uganda’s Equatorial climate is tempered by its elevated altitude. In most parts of the country, the daily maximum is between 27° Celcius (81° Fahrenheit) and the minimum is between 16° Celcius (61° Fahrenheit).
The highest temperatures in Uganda have been recorded on the plains immediately east of Lake Albert. In contrast, the lowest is recorded on Rwenzori’s glacial peaks.
Except in the dry north, where the average annual rainfall is as low as 100 millimeters in some areas, most parts of Uganda receive yearly precipitation of between 1,000 and 2,000 millimeters. There is wide regional variation in rainfall patterns. It can rain almost any time of the year in western Uganda and the Lake Victoria region.
As a rough guide, however, the wet seasons are from mid-September to November and from March to May. For the rest of the year, little or no rainfall can be realized—detailed information on the best time to plan your safari trip to Uganda.
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