Explore Tanzania Lakes: Top 6 Best Lakes To Visit In Tanzania : Tanzania, an East African country, is home to the world’s oldest and deepest lakes. This ecologically diverse country is divided into 26 regions, each with a unique set of natural attractions for those looking for unique vacation ideas and adventures. Luxury lodges, tents, tree houses, and private bungalows are available locally for travelers who prefer the freedom and affordability of a self-catering vacation.
Tanzania is a stunning country with many attractions, including Mount Kilimanjaro, the Mighty Serengeti, the renowned Ngorongoro Crater, and the gracefully crystal-clear, white-sand beaches of Zanzibar, to name a few. People generally associate Tanzania with its wildlife when they hear the name. In terms of the variety and abundance of wildlife in Africa, Tanzania does indeed stand out!
On the Other side, Tanzania’s lakes are as diverse as they are stunning, ranging from glistening freshwater lakes with white sand beaches to inhospitable soda lakes, which are home to tens of thousands of strutting flamingos. Some of these lakes are easy to include in a typical safari, while others are only ever explored by adventurous travelers seeking a unique experience.
Additionally, Tanzania is home to many lovely lakes, which represent an intriguing aspect of the country that few tourists get to see. Tanzania is home to the world’s deepest, longest, largest, and oldest lakes, in addition to the planet’s most biodiverse lakes, the Africa Great Lakes.
But which lakes are the best?
The most well-known lakes in Tanzania are Lake Victoria, Lake Nyasa, Lake Manyara, Lake Rukwa, and Lake Tanganyika. And each of them has something special to offer. Lake Nyasa is well known for being a habitat for endemic cichlids, while Lake Victoria is a great place to watch the sunset. Lake Tanganyika is well-known for recreational watersports; Lake Manyara for its abundant wildlife and flamingo population; and Lake Rukwa for its scenic surroundings and high density of Nile crocodiles. In this article, we’ll examine the top five lakes in Tanzania and explain why you should go there.
- Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara is the most beautiful lake in Tanzania out of all the lakes. It’s an impressive sight. The Greater Tarangire Ecosystem contains this alkaline lake in northern Tanzania.
Lake Manyara is one of Tanzania’s most diverse lakes, despite being small in comparison to the other lakes in the area. The park’s namesake lake, which is located there, is a popular destination for bird watchers, naturalists, photographers, and wildlife enthusiasts.
The fact that Lake Manyara has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife of any lake in the nation makes it a great place to go if you want to see a lot of wildlife. During your visit, you might be able to spot hippos, wildebeests, giraffes, buffalo, pools of elephants, zebras, and warthogs, among other animals. More animals can be seen in the lovely forest that surrounds the lake. In the trees, lions, baboons, leopards, and monkeys are frequently seen. The world’s highest concentration of primates is reportedly housed in this park.
Over 300 different species of birds call this lake home, adding to its abundance of wildlife. Pelicans, Ibis, Kori Bustards, Hornbills, Cormorants, Eagles, Heron, Lovebird, and other birds can be seen here, to name a few. During the rainy season, a sizable population of pink flamingos adorns the lakeshores.
- Lake Victoria
Undoubtedly a large body of water, Lake Victoria is one of Tanzania’s best lakes to visit. It is a part of the Great African Lakes and is situated in East Africa between Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. With a surface area of over 26,830 square miles (69,490 square kilometers), Lake Victoria is not only the largest lake in Africa but also the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. The Nile, one of the world’s longest rivers, has its beginnings here as well.
Lake Victoria is a wonderful gem worth exploring when traveling to Tanzania, even though it doesn’t receive as much attention as it ought to given that 51% of the lake is located there. Despite being off the beaten path, the lake is always enjoyable to visit. Around Lake Victoria, there are numerous things to do. Before a British explorer named John Hanning Speke changed the lake’s name to Lake Victoria in 1858 in honor of Queen Victoria of Britain, the locals called it Nyanza. According to estimates, Lake Victoria has been around for 750000 years.
Lake Victoria is a sight worth seeing just for the magical sunset when the last rays of sunlight hit the water. It’s a wonderful location to sip sundowners while taking a leisurely boat ride or strolling along the lakeshore. Boating is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with the lake’s biodiversity.
This lake is teeming with life, from hippos to crocodiles. Love to fish? There are over 350 different fish species in the lake. Tilapia and Nile perch are the two fish species that are most popular.
Another well-liked activity near Lake Victoria is birding. African Grey Parrot, Egyptian Goose, Fish Eagle, Sacred Ibis, Black Crake, Double-toothed Barbet, and Cormorants are birds to watch out for.
The stunning islands perched on Lake Victoria are another major draw. Although the lake has about 3,000 islands, two of them—Rubondo Island National Park and Saa Nane Island National Park—are “must-see attractions” on the Tanzanian side of the lake.
One of the largest island parks in Africa, Rubondo Island National Park has a total land area of 455 square kilometers. Visitors have the chance to see giraffes, chimpanzees, colobus monkeys, and the amphibious Sitatunga antelope on the uninhabited island.
Another interesting location is Saa Nane Island National Park, an island in Lake Victoria. Visitors typically take a boat from Mwanza to the island. The smallest national park in East Africa is Saa Nane Island, which has an area of 2.1 square kilometers. Here you can find zebras, gazelles, monkeys, peacocks, and monitor lizards, among other creatures.
- Lake Tanganyika
Located in western Tanzania, Lake Tanganyika is a significant component of Africa’s Great Lakes. Approximately 47% of this freshwater lake is located in Tanzania, which shares it with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Zambia. The lake’s total area is thought to be 32,900 square kilometers, or 12,703 square miles.
It’s interesting how different Lake Tanganyika is in so many ways. Additionally, it has received numerous honors. Lake Tanganyika is not only the second-largest freshwater lake in terms of volume, but it is also the longest lake in the world. Lake Tanganyika is also regarded as the second-oldest freshwater lake in the world. The lake has great depth. At its deepest points, which are 4,822 feet (1,470 meters) below the surface, the lake is the second-deepest on Earth.
A tranquil haven for lovers of water sports is Lake Tanganyika. When it comes to water sports, it is conceivably Tanzania’s most well-liked lake.
Around the lake, there are numerous places to escape. It’s a wonderful location to have a picnic with family or friends and take in the view of the picturesque waters. Snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, wakeboarding, diving, skiing, and other recreational pursuits are available at Lake Tanganyika.
It is one of the best places in Africa to see these stunning but highly endemic species because there are more than 200 species of cichlid fish to be found here. All year long, fishing is another activity you can enjoy here.
If you enjoy wildlife, you will be happy to know that the lake is fed by a number of rivers and streams, making it a fantastic habitat for a variety of plants and animals. Hippos, otters, and Nile crocodiles are a few of the most notable creatures that call the lake area home.
The abundance of birds around Lake Tanganyika is well known. You can see kingfishers, African fish eagles, kites, sunbirds, and kingfishers while visiting this isolated lake.
A trip to the islands is another interesting thing you can do close to Lake Tanganyika. Thousands of islands, both inhabited and uninhabited, can be found in the lake, and the majority of them can be explored by boat. The opulent 130-acre Lupita Island is the one with the most visitors on the Tanzanian side.
Last but not least, Lake Tanganyika is a great addition for travelers to this region because it is close to Tanzania’s popular chimpanzee tracking destination, Mahale Mountain National Park.
- Lake Nyasa
A freshwater lake in Africa, Lake Nyasa is shared by the countries of Malawi, Tanzania, and Mozambique. It is known as Lake Malawi to Malawians. The third-largest lake in Africa and the ninth-largest lake in the world is Lake Nyasa. It is the second-deepest lake in Africa, behind Lake Tanganyika, with a maximum depth of just over 2,300 feet (700m).
It is one of the Great Lakes of Africa and is situated in southwest Tanzania. One of Tanzania’s most beautiful lakes, Lake Nyasa, is a stunning shade of blue. Visitors can participate in a variety of activities on the Tanzanian side of the lake.
One of the most varied and distinctive ecosystems can be found around the lake. The best way to describe Lake Nyasa, which is home to over 1,100 different species of fish, is as a place where fish are present everywhere you turn. More fish species can be found in Lake Nyasa than any other lake in the world.
Lake Nyasa is home to cichlids, the fish species with the highest rate of endemism in the world, just like Lake Tanganyika. It is easy to see almost all of the cichlid species in the world here because Lake Nyasa’s waters are home to over 250 species of these vibrant and rare species. The most popular activity on the lake is fishing.
In addition to fish, Lake Nyasa is teeming with wildlife, the most prevalent of which are turtles, hippos, and Nile crocodiles. More than 400 different bird species can be found on the lake’s shores. Cormorants, kingfishers, egrets, and African fish eagles are frequently seen.
Canoeing and kayaking are excellent ways to discover the lake’s waters. Matema Beach is a destination worth visiting if you simply want to unwind while taking in the scenery. It is located along the northern shores of Lake Nyasa.
- Lake Rukwa
Lake Rukwa, the fourth-largest lake in Tanzania, is located in the southwest. It is an alkaline lake whose northern portion extends to the larger Katavi National Park‘s Uwanda Game Reserve.
One of the prettiest and most tranquil bodies of water in the nation is hidden behind the verdant hills and picturesque surroundings of the lake. There are numerous lovely islands dotted throughout Lake Rukwa. The lake is ideal for observing wildlife like Nile crocodiles and hippos because it is very shallow compared to the rest of the lake, especially in its western section. Fishing enthusiasts enjoy the lake.
A haven for birdwatchers is Lake Rukwa. The wetland that is located on its southern shores is the best place to see various birds. You can see a variety of birds, including popular species for birdwatchers like the African Skimmer, Glossy Ibis, and Shoebill Stork. In the rainy season, flamingos occasionally stop by the lake. White pelicans love the lake as a breeding ground.
- Lake Natron
In the northeastern region of Tanzania, close to Kenya, is Lake Natron, a salty or alkaline lake. It covers 1040 square kilometers, or 402 square miles, and has a surface elevation of 600 meters (1969 feet) above sea level. Its length is 57 square kilometers (22 miles), and its width is 24 square kilometers (9 miles). Due to its high variability in salt content, alkalinity, and temperature, which can reach 600 C (1400 F), this lake is less hospitable to most species of living organisms. It is what is known as a dead lake. The Ethiopian cities of Erta Ale and Dallol are located along the Gregorian Rift Valley and have similarly harsh environmental conditions that make life there all but impossible. These two Ethiopian locations regularly experience vulcanicity, with boiling magma rising to the crust’s surface.
Due to the high concentration of sodium carbonate and baking soda in Lake Natron, animals that die there are known to become calcified.
Invertebrates, some fish species, caustic salt-loving algae, and a variety of birds all choose Lake Natron as their home. Surprisingly, the lake is home to an estimated 2.5 million flamingos due to the abundance of algae that serves as these birds primary food source. In the dry season, as the lake’s water evaporates, its salinity rises, promoting the growth of halophile organisms like cyanobacteria, which prefer salty environments.
Lesser flamingos breed in a very small number of locations in Africa, and Lake Natron is one of them—in fact, it is the primary location, making the lake’s preservation crucial for ecological reasons. Considering that Lake Natron is home to 75% of the 3.2 million Lesser Flamingos worldwide, it is truly amazing to see! Witnessing such a large number of birds with colors that resemble firebirds becomes surreal.
The type of algae in the lake adds to the lake’s extraordinary beauty in addition to the pink hue of the lesser flamingos because the red pigment in it produces the three jaw-dropping colors of red, orange, and pink!
Three different species of tilapia fish have been found in the lake, including the endemic Wide-lipped Natron Tilapia (Alcolapia latilabris), Narrow-lipped Natron Tilapia (Alcolapia ndalalani), and Common Natron Tilapia (Alcolapia alcalica), which is also found in Kenya’s Lake Magadi.
One of Tanzania’s four Ramsar sites, Lake Natron, works to protect wetlands with global and national significance and promote healthy waterfowl habitats. Malagarasi—Muyovosi Wetland, Kilombero Valley Wetland, and Rufiji—Mafia—Kilwa Ramsar Site are the other three Ramsar sites in Tanzania.
Ol Doinyo Lengai is a 3,188-meter (10,459-foot) high active volcanic mountain that can be found south of Lake Natron. It is classified as a stratovolcano or composite volcano because it is the only volcano in the world to emit natrocarbonatite lava, a highly fluid lava that contains almost no silicon and is characterized by numerous layers or strata and steep flanks. Shield volcanoes, which are basaltic in nature, are the other class of volcanic mountains. Silicate minerals are present in abundance in nearly 90% of all volcanic lava on Earth.
The trend of tourism in Lake Natron has been increasing by the day as this area is becoming a hotspot for tourists because of the adventure of trekking the mountain as well as the aesthetic values of the area. Maasai people too are found here, and this provides great opportunities for cultural experiences on your safari in the area. This area is also used as a stopover for tourism to the northern Serengeti to see the Great Migration of animals across the Mara River between the months of August and October.
While animals like the “big five” are frequently seen during safaris in Tanzania, the lakes there give you the chance to see aquatic creatures like African cichlids, waterfowl, enormous crocodiles, hippos, and others that will blow your mind.
Tanzania’s lakes are a magnificent and amazing place. If you’re interested in birds, watersports, or other things while taking a break from a safari, you can stop at one of these lakes and take in the most incredible sundowners and nature walks along the shores.
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