Hot Springs in East Africa

Sep 16 2023

Did you know East Africa is one of the best places to travel to experience hot springs? Read on to see our favorite hot springs in East Africa, including hot springs Uganda, hot springs in Rwanda, and hot springs in Kenya.

Hot Springs in Uganda

Uganda is blessed with 7 rewardable hot springs and they are positioned in different regions of the country, more specifically in western Uganda.

Hot springs are formed by cracks extending down towards the exceedingly hot temperatures of the mantle, and water seeping downwards is heated and forced back up under pressure to bubble. Uganda’s hot springs are found in four main locations; Around Murchison falls national park area, Fort Portal area, Queen Elizabeth national park area and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park area.

1. Fort Portal Area

Semliki National Park which is situated in south western Uganda making a possible enroute Bwindi impenetrable forest national park for gorilla trekking. In this park, hot springs are the major tourist attraction. The hot springs here include;

Sempaya hot springs are Semiliki’s most famous attraction. They are set in a lush swampy clearing close to the south eastern corner of the forest of Semliki. These two hot springs are in two sites and are each distinct from each other. There is the Female Spring and the Male Spring.

The female spring has water boiling at 103 degrees, and it spurts hot water up to 2m above the ground while the male spring is more distant from the female spring and is reached by following a trail.

Water from hot springs is believed to cure certain diseases, for example ringworm. There are also legends and customs related to the hot springs that you will get in detail with the help of a professional tour guide.

The female spring is visited by women who hope for a cure for infertility and other problems. Communities living near hot springs in Uganda usually have both spiritual and superstitious attachments to them. Uganda’s hot springs are often popular tourist destinations and locations for rehabilitation clinics for those with disabilities. The trail to the springs leads you through a patch of rain forest where red-tailed monkey, gray-cheeked mangabey and black and white colobus are common. Bird watching safaris are also stunning; you will see different bird species like forest horn.Tourists have been seen boiling eggs, cassava and green bananas in the two geothermal heated springs.

Buranga Hot Springs

Fort portal is one of the nearest towns to Rwenzori mountains making it the best stop over town before proceeding to Buranga hot springs. On your way to the hot springs, you are welcomed through the lowland tropical rain forest.

The only edge that Buranga hot springs have over Sempaya hot springs is the number of hot springs. Buranga hot springs are formed by three hot springs dispersed in a walk-able distance from each other. These are Mumbuga springs, Nyansimbe springs and Kagoro springs. These are all recommended en-route activities for Kibale forest national park and Rwenzori mountains.

Rwigamba Hot Springs

When you think of hot springs in Uganda, you need to identify the most unique of all hot springs and this is Rwagimba hot springs found in river Rwimi in Bunyangabu district. Besides the common stories of this river flooding in the rainy seasons; Rwigamba hot springs offer steam baths that draw multitudes to this place.

It is also a recommend en-route destination for Kibale forest national park, Rwenzori mountains, and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park

2. Queen Elizabeth National Park Area

There is one hot spring closest to the Queen Elizabeth area; Kitagata hot springs.

Kitagata Hot Springs

The hot spring is located one kilometer from the Kitagata trading center and has water temperatures as hot as 80 degrees centigrade. The springs also have historical importance as one was used by the King of Ankole and hence referred to locally as ‘Ekyomugabe’, the King’s Spring while the other adjacent one is more known for its medicinal value and referred to as Mulago in reference to Uganda’s national referral hospital which is Mulago. Kitagata hot springs are a must visit to anyone visiting Bushenyi district and are on the route that easily connects to Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi and Lake Mburo National Parks.

Many visitors travel to Kitagata to treat themselves to the hot baths or just to catch a glimpse of people bathing in these natural hot Spas. Kitagata hot springs are also well known for their curative waters. Patients from as far as 100 kms flock the springs to soak themselves in the spring waters to heal them, some other patients drink the sulfur rich waters of the hot springs for cure from rheumatism and arthritis.

Medical research is yet to be conducted to prove the claims of the above cures. Among all the hot springs in Uganda, Kitagata hot springs might be the busiest attracting over 20 people on a good day trying to take a bath in this natural warm water as well as boiling some eggs, cassava, bananas and sweet potatoes in springs hot water.The hot springs have several pools just around the hot springs from which people collect some warm water for drinking while at the springs.

3. Murchison Falls National Park Area

Amoropii Hot Springs

Uganda also has the Amoropii hot springs in northern Uganda which is believed to do miracles for its visitors. These hot springs are rooted in the worship traditions of the Alur people because it’s believed to have divine powers. Amoropii hot springs got its name from Alur words meaning hot water. “Amoro” means hot and “pii” stands for water.

It is believed that barren women bathe in the hot spring as well as those in need of a fairer and tender skin. However, one must first get permission to visit these springs and illegal visiting of these hot springs may cause you problems such as snake bits

It is also believed that hot springs are related to traditional briefs for example every six months; they slaughter a big sheep as a sacrifice to the gods of Amoropii. The meat is left in the open and the following day, it’s gone. It is believed that the gods of Amoropii take it.

Kibiro Hot Springs

Kibiro Hot springs are some of the least known and the least visited hot springs in Uganda. This is partly because of its remote location compared to all the other hot springs. However, with a well-planned itinerary and good safari cars, the place can easily be accessed on a non-rainy day.  It is also a recommended enroute destination in case you are coming from Murchison falls national park heading to Kibale forest national park or accessing Murchison falls national park via Hoima town.

4. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Area

There is one Hot spring that is highly recommended for anyone doing gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and visiting lake Bunyonyi; Ihimba Hot springs

Ihimba Hot Springs

These hot springs are located in Kabale western Uganda. They have a long history with the Bahima people which makes them a special destination for anyone who loves culture. You can also visit the local bahima people in this area garnishing your western Uganda trip with a feel of culture and hot spring scenery.

Like all the other hot springs in Uganda, Ihimba hot springs has a long trail of notable healing among the local people though not yet scientifically proven.

Hot Springs in Kenya

Hot springs in Kenya are geothermal treasures offering their invigorating waters to visitors.

There are 5 major hot springs in Kenya and here are:

Lake Bogoria

Lake Bogoria actually has more than 200 hot springs around it, and is the most famous of all the hot springs regions in Kenya. Some of the springs are in the lake itself, while others are close to it. The temperature of the water hovered around 37 degrees Celsius (98F).

Loburu Hot Springs

Loburu sits in one of Kenya’s largest geothermal areas, near Lake Bogoria. There are 32 separate springs, three of which have continuous geysers, earning them the name “perpetual spouters.” Tourists can take excursions to the lake to enjoy this scenic marvel.

Chemerkau Hot Springs

Also, part of Lake Bogoria, this is a group of approximately 40 hot

springs. Like most of the other natural areas nearby, the vegetation is one of the attractions. Some of the geysers here are covered in crystals of aragonite that grow several centimeters long.

Lake Magadi

This alkaline saline lake is located in the Kenyan Rift Valley, which is known for its volcanic features and hot springs. Visitors can go on a one-day expedition of Magadi to explore the fascinating sand flats, swim in the hot springs, and try bird watching. The Lake is in Maasai country, which provides a perfect opportunity to learn about the culture of the people.

Lake Turkana

Also located in the Kenyan Rift Valley, this Salt Lake is the world’s largest permanent desert lake, and by volume, the fourth-largest Salt Lake in the world. The area has many fossils and is regarded as the cradle of humanity, resulting in expeditions there every year. There are numerous hot springs dotted around its fringes.

Hot Springs in Rwanda

In Kinyarwanda, hot springs are called Amashyuza and they are among Rwanda’s most amazing national tourism resources as they have the ability to attract thousands of tourists every year.

The only challenge is the fact that they haven’t been exactly promoted like they should be. There are several sites with these hot springs across Rwanda and these include;

The Nyamyumba Hot Springs are located in Rubavu District and over the years, it has attracted quite a number of local and international tourists. The number of tourists is limited by the fact that this place is still undeveloped, therefore limited access as roads become impassable especially after it rains. There is also no shelter for the tourists to use for example if it rains poorly neither is there a nice restarts to provide food.

There are also Gisenyi hot springs located in Gisenyi on the shores of Lake Kivu on the eastern side just a few kilometers from the southern side of Gisenyi main town. They are located very close to a local brewery which you can visit after visiting the hot spring. The water heats up to about 70 to 75°C.

The sport is along the Cyangugu road and these are called the Nyakanuye hot springs or Bugarama hot springs located 60 km away from the town of Cyangugu and only 241km away from Rwanda’s capital city Kigali. They are located at a limestone quarry base and also close to the popular Cimerwa Cement Factory. As you head there, you will follow a trail along very small trails and those will lead you to these small wells filled with water. The temperature is so high, that it can boil eggs in minutes.

There is also the Bugarama hot spring which is located not more than 60 kilometers away from the main town of Cyangugu town. This is also found at the limestone quarry base and only 3 kilometers away from a local Cimerwa cement factory. This hot spring can even be viewed from the road side as it forms a large pool of green water as a result of the existence of algae.

All these hot springs give a really beautiful scenery in Rwanda and many local people visit them for reasons which include;

Purpose of these hot springs to the locals and the country of Rwanda

Most of the local people go there only to have a swim from this warm water, sometimes they just want to have water from what they believe are supernatural hot springs. At these hot springs is where you will find the very rare and so beautiful species of water lily called the Nymphaea Therma rum.

This water was scientifically proven to contain a lot of minerals that can heal various illnesses and complications like muscle disorders, various skin diseases, among other infections. The water contains various minerals like sodium chloride, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, lots of lithium sulfate, there is also calcium sulfate and also magnesium chloride, among so many other minerals that contain large quantities of medicinal values. This is the actual reason why people get healed after dipping themselves in that water; all these minerals enter your body.

The hot springs are really good tourists’ attractions. Thousands of tourists visit hot springs just to see them, maybe swim in the water too. For purposes of experimentation, you can put eggs in there and boil them. They are a great source of revenue for the government in this case.

This water from these hot springs is very good at stimulating the body’s immune system which is why drinking it is also important.

It also heals simple illnesses like the flu when you drink it. It also works on some serious conditions like all rheumatic diseases that include aching, stiffness and sores.

For more information about destination Rwanda, feel free to contact us at Penny Africa Safaris.

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