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10 Popular Rivers in Africa


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Arguably, one can believe that what connects most African countries is rivers.

These popular rivers in Africa serves as a source of fresh water, food, and transportation for millions of people.

African rivers are essential for the survival of millions of African wildlife. Without the rivers, Africa possibly wouldn’t have lions, rhinos, and other amazing species that the continent is known for.

In this article, we will highlight 10 popular rivers in Africa and some interesting facts about them

  1. River Nile – Egypt
  2. The Okavango – Angola, ‎Namibia‎, ‎Botswana
  3. The Congo – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Angola
  4. The Zambezi – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola
  5. The Tugela River – South Africa
  6. The Chambeshi River – Zambia
  7. Niger River – Guinea
  8. The Luangwa River – Zambia
  9. The Kasai River – Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  10. The Orange River – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho

1. River Nile – Egypt

This 6000+ km long river in Africa connects a number of nations, including Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
source: dreamstime

It connects East Africa and North Africa and not only is River Nile one of the popular rivers in Africa it is also the world’s longest river.

Another well-known story about the Nile includes a small child who was hidden in a basket to avoid harm. The infant was Moses, of course, and he managed to avoid the Pharaoh’s command to kill all male Hebrew infants in the Bible.

The White Nile, Blue Nile, and Atbara are its three major sources. Since the majority of the population of Egypt resides in the Nile valley, the Nile is regarded as the lifeblood of the nation.

Did you know?

  • Pasquale Scaturro was the first explorer to travel the length of the River Nile, taking 114 days to complete his mission in 2004.
  • Most of the water carried by the Nile originates in Ethiopia.
  • Approximately 160 million people depend on the Nile river for fresh water.

2. The Okavango – Angola, ‎Namibia‎, ‎Botswana

Angola is where the Okavango originates from. The Rio Cubango, as it is known there, runs from the highlands through Angola, Namibia, and Botswana. The Okavango River does not enter the sea, in contrast to other popular rivers in Africa.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
source: luxury reporters

Instead, it expands, overflows its banks, and creates the largest inland delta in the world, covering more than 20,000 square kilometers of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana.

Discover it all on a Botswana safari to see how it generates the Okavango Delta, one of the best wildlife experiences on the globe.

The Okavango River and the Okavango Delta it forms are responsible for the Kalahari supporting one of the highest densities of wild African wildlife.

Did you know?

  • Namibia and Angola are separated by the Okavango river.
  • In this African river, you’ll find over 400 different bird species.
  • According to geologists, the upper Zambezi, Limpopo, and Okavango rivers were formerly linked roughly 2 million years ago.
  • People do scuba diving among crocodiles in the Okavango River in June and July.
  • Locally, the Okavango is also referred to as the “river of life.”

3. The Congo – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Angola

One of Africa’s most fascinating and breathtaking rivers is the Congo river. It flows through the second-largest rainforest in the world and is the second-longest river in Africa asides being one of the most popular rivers in Africa.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
source: pinterest

As it winds through dense woodlands where very few people have ever gone, the majority of it is still undiscovered.

In 1482, Diogo Co, a Portuguese adventurer, made his way into the Congo delta and claimed the region for his King.

Ironically, the Congo River and its basin are now regarded as being extremely essential to the ecological stability of Africa.

Congo River is the most pertinent tourist attraction in the country. The river separates the two Congos – Kinshasa and Brazzaville.

Did you know

  • Every second, the Congo River dumps water into the Atlantic Ocean that could fill 13 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • With 686 species currently known, the diversity of freshwater fish is enormous.
  • Twice, the Congo crosses the equator.
  • For more than 50,000 years, people have lived in the Congo basin.

4. The Zambezi – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola

One of Africa’s most famous rivers, the powerful Zambezi flows across six nations before emptying into the Indian Ocean.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
source: Africanova travel

The Zambezi River meets a 100 m vertical chasm at the Zimbabwe-Zambia border, resulting in what the locals call “the smoke that thunders.”

Did you know

  • People have lived in the area around the Zambezi for three million years, according to archaeological sites!
  • Bull sharks, which typically inhabit coastal waters, have been seen swimming severally in this river.
  • From the area above the Zambezi River where Zambia and Zimbabwe meet, bungee jumping is possible.
  • Up to 48 km (30 mi) distant, one can see Victoria Falls’ spray.
  • The God and native protector of the Zambezi River Valley is named Nyami Nyami.

Also read: 8 Oldest Hotels in Africa

5. The Tugela River – South Africa

The Zulu term “tugela” means “something that startles.”

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
The road bridge over the Tugela River below Woodstock Dam wall near Bergville in the Kwazulu-Natal Province (source: iStock)

It is Kwazulu Natal, South Africa’s major river. Tugela is one of the popular rivers in Africa and after Angel Falls in Venezuela, Tugela Falls is the second-highest waterfall on Earth at 948 meters.

Did you know

  • The Tugela River spans 502 kilometers.
  • This river in South Africa has tributaries in both the Orange and Vaal rivers.
  • In the Tugela, Nile crocodiles are most likely to be found.
  • It is a well-liked fly-fishing location is the Tugela.
  • The Indian Ocean is where this river empties after the falls.

6. The Chambeshi River – Zambia

Notwithstanding its length of almost 4700 km and traversal through eleven African nations, this river is largely unknown.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
source: ZNBC

Did you know

  • With parts exceeding 240 meters, the Chambeshi is not just known as one of the popular rivers in Africa but it is also one of the world’s deepest rivers.
  • This African river became a 20-km-wide lake due to a flood in 2007
  • The Chambeshi feeds the Bangweulu, one of the largest wetland systems in the world.
  • Large amounts of rice are grown on the Chambeshi floodplains.
  • The primary economic activity in the Chambeshi region is fishing.

7. Niger River – Guinea

This African river, which has the distinction of one of the world’s most deadly rivers, killed about 30,000 animals and thousands of people in 2010 when its banks collapsed.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
source: African Writers Desk

It is not just on the list of popular rivers in Africa, it is the main river in West Africa.

The Niger River originates in Guinea and flows through Niger, Mali, Benin, and Nigeria before widening to form a sizable delta. The majority of West Africa’s wildlife is supported by this river.

Did you know

  • Western geographers are still perplexed by the river’s boomerang shape.
  • The Sahara desert receives water from the Niger Bend.
  • The oil river is another name for the Niger Delta.
  • In 1550, Leo Africanus published the first edition of the name Niger in Italy.

8. Luangwa River – Zambia

One of the main tributaries of the Zambezi River is the Luangwa River. It originates in northeastern Zambia and moves toward the Zambezi in a southwesterly direction.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
source: Wikipedia

Did you know

  • The Luangwa Valley’s economic activity is mostly dependent on the river.
  • The area’s wildlife has been protected since the late 19th century, and the river is vital to the survival of most of the nation’s large mammals.
  • There are about 1000 hippopotamus living in the Luangwa
  • Breeding grounds for carmine bee-eaters are found in the Luangwa.
  • There are numerous locations around the river where there are natural hot springs.

9. The Kasai River – Angola

The Kasai starts in Angola and stretches 1800 km before flowing into the Congo River.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
Seaside skyline seen from Kasai Rinkai Park (source: iStock)

The history of this river is not an entirely happy one due to the fact that slave traders used the Kasai to navigate equatorial rainforests then transport captured slaves back to the Atlantic Ocean.

Thankfully this history does not define the Kasai. This is another African river home to a wonderful array of wildlife.

Did you know

  • Alluvial diamonds are abundantly found in the Kasai.
  • Stretches of the river that can be 700 km long swell to a width of 4 km.
  • With almost 200 identified species, it has a large fish population.
  • This river is home to the African bullfrog and more than 60 other frog species.
  • While they cross, the rivers Mai-Ndombe and Kasai never merge.

10. The Orange River – Namibia, Lesotho, ‎South Africa‎

The Orange river, which flows across the dry plains of Southern Africa, is a widely sought-after location for adventurers and wildlife aficionados.

10 Popular Rivers in Africa
source: dreamstime

Along the South Africa–Namibia border, one might decide to go rafting down this African river and see a beautiful variety of birds.

Did you know

  • Erasmus Jacobs, a 15-year-old kid, found the country’s first diamond on the banks of the Orange River.
  • The Orange River is a popular place for rafting because there are no large or hazardous animals there.
  • The highest temperature ever registered was 47.8o C in 1939.
  • 189 bird species can be found in the Orange River.
  • This African river is over 2000 kilometers long


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