Fort Portal, Uganda Crater Lakes (with Map & Photos)

There are parts of Uganda that are surprising for not being more touristy than they are. And the lakes in the Ndali-Kasenda area fulfill this fact. These idyllic lakes for their green landscape and each one with different shades of water, are of volcanic origin and are said to have been formed about 10,000 years ago. There are about 50 lakes in the area.

Fort Portal Lakes
Fort Portal Lakes

They are located in the northern and southern part of the city of Fort Portal, a city of the Toro kingdom. This was founded by the British who built a fortress that protected them from the guerrillas in the area, Fort Gerry. Later, after the arrival of the English consul Sir Gerald Portal, who called for English law to be applied in the area, the city received the name of Fort Portal a mixture of the two most important things at that time: the fort and the English consul.

Fort Portal Lakes
Fort Portal Lakes

The city now serves as a base to discover this southwestern part of the country, an area unknown to many Ugandans and many tourists.

How to get?


To get to Fort Portal, you can easily get there from Kampala by a good road (A109) traveling the almost 300 kilometers that separate this city. If you come from the north, you can get there from the Masindi-Hoima-Fort Portal road, which is also in very good condition. From the south, you can get there from Kasese on the same A109 road that skirts the Rwenzori Mountains or through Katoma and Kibale NP, leaving the Lake District to the west. Therefore, Fort Portal is a very accessible city and very well connected.

Through the lakes, having around fifty volcanic lakes (some inaccessible) there are different dirt roads that connect the different lakes. Preferably, the best thing you can do is visit them with your own car or hire a private driver to take you on a tour.

Mainly, there is a main road that goes from Fort Portal to Rwankwenzi (located to the south) passing through the Top of the World, Nyinambuga Lake, Mwimba Lake, Kasenda, Rwenjuba Lake and finally the town of Rwankwenzi. This route is accessible without using the 4 × 4, and from here you can detour through different lakes that are a few kilometers from the main road. In some of them, like the one in Katanda, you will have to use the 4 × 4 if you go in the rainy season, which is when we went.

In the following map you will see the different paths and routes that you can take within the Kasenda lakes area:

What to do in Fort Portal and in the lakes of Kasenda?


The main activities you can do in the area of ​​Fort Portal and Kasenda revolve around the lakes. We find around fifty, and therefore, you have many options of activities to do.

  • Visit a tea plantation

This area of ​​Fort Portal and Kasenda stands out for its tea plantations that extend through the mountains around it. Tea is the most popular drink in the country and the one that most people drink. Most of these plantations come from Indian companies that later export the product to their country. We did not visit them because we had already done so during our visit to the most important area of ​​tea plantations in Kenya.but there is the possibility of doing so if you visit Uganda for vacation.

Fort Portal Lakes
Fort Portal Lakes

  • Tour the different volcanic lakes in the area

It is the star activity that you can do for us in this area. Based on the map and depending on the transport you have, we advise you to spend a few days in this area and enjoy this curious landscape and its fantastic and friendly people.

If you want to bathe, ask the local people beforehand which are the best lakes to do so since it is not possible in all of them because the water still retains gases from the volcanic era. Here is a brief explanation of the lakes that we visit, in order, and some practical information:

Lake Nyabikere: It is located 11km from Fort Portal, and is the easiest lake to access. It has different accommodations around it. One option may be the CVK resort that has camping for $ 10 in front of the lake or 150,000 UGX for bed and breakfast.

Fort Portal Lakes
Fort Portal Lakes

Top of the World: From this viewpoint you can see 3 lakes at the same time. It is a very good option for a walk in the area. Easy and very well marked. There is the accommodation at the top of the viewpoint that can serve as a stopping point to eat or drink or as an option to sleep if you want to spend the night.

Fort Portal Lakes
Fort Portal Lakes

Lake Nkuruba: It is located about 25km south of Fort Portal. You can take a tour of the lake and bathe. It's a lake where you can stay at the community-run campsite: Enfuzi community Campsite. The campsite has small strips (20,000 UGX) and camping ground (10,000 UGX). Food and drinks can be reserved by prior reservation.

Lake Lyantonde: It is located in the west of Lake Nyinambuga. It is one of the most beautiful lakes where you can sleep in the Papaya Lake Lodge accommodation (400 USD full board). There is the possibility of making a menu for lunch and swimming pool for about 90,000 UGX per person.

Nyinambuga Lake: It is located in the south of Lake Nkuruba and has a great landscape around it full of forests. There we find the most luxurious hotel in the area for people with very high budgets. This one is called Ndali Lodge and is worth about 600 USD with full board.

Lake Katanda: More secluded than others. On the way you can see the rural life of the people of the area. Very close to the Muhammad waterfalls, which may be an option to complete the visit, but when we visited the area they told us that they did not have much water.

Nyamiteza Lake: Very easy to access if you come from the main road that goes from Fort Portal to the Queen Elizabeth NP. It is a beautiful lake with a rural population around it. It is one of the best options because it has a very nice accommodation right next to the crater: Bella Vista Lodge. You can go on walking tours in the surroundings.

Other lakes that were recommended to us but that we did not have time to visit are Lake Kifuruka located west of Lake Nyinambuga. The color of the water is green because it still has sulphurous waters. Excursions to the area can be made through local guides from the surrounding eco-lodge campsite. Good area to see birds.

  • Take a walking tour of one of the lakes

As we have said, this area of ​​lakes that are actually craters is a very good area for walking routes: either shorter, such as taking a walk around Lake Nkuruba, going up to see the views of the craters from above, such as the lake. Nyamiteza or one-day routes to go to the Top of the World and the surrounding lakes.

It is a rural area where people will greet you effusively and you will reaffirm yourself thinking that it is still an undiscovered jewel of the country.

  •  Visit the Rwenzori Mountains

The Rwenzori Mountains are one of the icons of the country. Majestic and with a variety of impressive landscapes, they are a good stop if you like trekking higher in the mountains. Attention however! You have to be prepared and bring the necessary technical equipment. There is the possibility of doing routes of a few days or climbing emblematic peaks of the mountain range such as Marguerita peak, the 3rd highest peak in Africa at 5,109 m with the three best-known mountains of the moon: Mt. Stanley, Mt. Speke or Mt. Baker.

Fort Portal Map