Crater Lakes in the Albertine Rift – Africa Photography by Joel Sartore
In a region bursting with people, a few big open spaces remain—like the Rift floor in Queen Elizabeth Park, pocked with crater lakes formed by volcanic explosions. If protected areas hadn’t been set aside in the Albertine Rift from the 1920s to the 1960s, conservationists doubt any large wilderness areas would exist today.
The Western Rift, also called the Albertine Rift, is edged by some of the highest mountains in Africa, including the Virunga Mountains, Mitumba Mountains, and Ruwenzori Range. It contains the Rift Valley lakes, which include some of the deepest lakes in the world (up to 1,470 metres (4,800 ft) deep at Lake Tanganyika). Much of this area lies within the boundaries of national parks such as Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwenzori National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Lake Victoria is considered to be part of the rift valley system although it actually lies between the two branches. All of the African Great Lakes were formed as the result of the rift, and most lie within its rift valley.