Tectonic movements are gradually splitting the Somali plate from the rest of the African continent. This geological activity is responsible for the formation of the western branch of the East African Rift, a geographical feature referred to as the Albertine Rift.
The crack cuts through parts of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania. Four lakes namely Albert, Edward, Kivu and Tanganyika are lined up on the surface of this magical creation.
Landscape restructuring caused by the disintegration of the earth’s lithosphere and related geological reactions created mountains too. The Rwenzori Mountains soar to the crowds somewhere between Lake Albert and Lake Edward. Similarly, the Virunga Mountains stand between Lake Edward and Lake Kivu. They also form a barrier between basins of two iconic rivers - Congo and Nile. Farther south, Itombwe Mountains occupy the western part of the highland separating Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika.
Also in the mix, is a network of rivers. Victoria Nile flows from Lake Victoria to the northern part of Lake Albert and exits the lake as White Nile. Back to the Virunga area, volcanic mountains blocked Lake Kivu’s northern outlet towards Lake Edward and created Rusizi River which in turn, flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika. Tanganyika is connected to the Congo basin by Lukuga River. In addition, there is a myriad of smaller rivers flowing in and out of the lakes listed above.
The Albertine Rift is also an epicenter of biodiversity. It is home to a significant percentage of Africa’s species of birds, mammals, amphibians and plants. Some species of animals inhabiting the zone and plants flourishing here can’t be found anywhere else on planet earth.
The Albertine Rift is home to mountain gorillas, elephants, buffaloes, okapis and hippos to name but a few. The list can go on and on. Dozens of bird species are also found here. Visitors can’t help but gaze in astonishment at the profusion of thick vegetation, vast water bodies and unmatched diversity in flora and fauna.
The Albertine Rift is magical. This geological crease of lush forests, massive mountain ranges, unique wildlife, stunning lakes and river streams falling over gorges to form picturesque waterfalls presents a great opportunity for us to diversify our products and offer our visitors a wide range of options. However, we need to step up our game as far as conservation is concerned in order to ensure the sustainability of the industry.
The author is a travel enthusiast based in Kigali, Rwanda. Follow his awe-inspiring journey on ikazerwandatours.com