Tanzania has inherited a large number of natural lakes that are scattered almost in each part of the country. These lakes include the big and famous in the world six Lakes and many others small ones. Most of these Lakes in Tanzania occurred naturally and they form the main source of water and provide unique attractions for their surrounding areas.
Among the world’s six (6) great lakes that are found in Tanzania destination includes; Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake, it has superb birdlife, Fishing industries and the agricultural land around its shores which have transformed the area to an economic centre of Tanzania, Lakes Tanganyika which is the deepest lake in Africa and second in the world, and Lake Nyasa which is the third largest Lake in Africa.
These lakes have hundreds of unique freshwater fish species. The other great lakes in Tanzania includes; the caustic water Lakes Natron and Manyara, that are both found in the Rift Valley, in the northern part of Tanzania.
These Lakes are breeding grounds for soda loving algae, which attract large flocks of flamingos. Lake Eyasi which is the Salt Lake and the home of the Hadzabe bushman is also one of the great lakes of Tanzania.
The Tanzania Hadzabe Bushmans are the last remaining of hunters and gatherers on the continent. Other small lakes that have managed to preserved their natural attractions are Ambusel, Babati, Burigi, Chala, Ikimba, Jipe, Kitangiri, Ndutu, Nyumba ya mungu reservoir, Rukwa and Sagara Lakes. Most of these lakes provide secured and attractive places for picnic and walking safaris.
1. Lake Victoria
The Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest freshwater in the world. It has about 68,800 sq. kilometers, and is being shared by three (3) East African countries being; Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. More than half of the lake lies within Tanzanian territory and this Lake is the main water source of River Nile that run through Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, and at the end it pours its water in Mediterranean Sea.
The main ports on Lake Victoria are Mwanza, Bukoba, Kisumu, Entebbe, Port Bell and Jinja. Lake Victoria is located in the northwest part of Tanzania.
Day temperatures at this reserve area ranges between 22 to 26° C (72 to 79° F) and in the Night it ranges between 8 to 11° C (46-52° F).
Heavy rains which reaches 200mm is usually during the month of April and while the lowest are in January.
Attractions in Lake Victoria
- Fish And Birds When visiting the freshwater lakes you can embark on fishing trips, and enjoy the rich birds and fish life that surrounds the water.
- Cultural There are various cultural tourism programmers’ to be offered around this area.
Things to do in lake victoria
- Cultural tourism programs are also popular.
Best Time To Visit Lake Victoria
It is better to visit the area during the month of August, September because it is the dry season were around the Lake areas are easily accessed.
2. Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is about 675 km long, 50 km wide, and 1,470m at its deepest point. It is the deepest Lake in Africa and the second lake in the world after Lake Baikal in Siberia.
It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the world’s longest freshwater lake. This lake stretches into four countries, which are; Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, and Zambia.
The major part of the lake stretches to DRC by 45% and Tanzania by 41%.
Lake Tanganyika water flows into the Congo River system and ultimately into the Atlantic Ocean. The lake holds about 18, 900 km3 of alkaline fresh water that is claimed to be the cleanest in the world. It lies within four African countries’ territories being Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
• Wildlife There are many species of primates in the nearby tropical forests. Vervet and colobus monkeys, baboons and chimpanzees they inhabit the dense forest.
• Birds Also there are over 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twinspots.
• Abundance Of Fish Lake Tanganyika has a large variety of cichlids at least 250 species of cichlid fish and 150 non-cichlid species, most of which live along the shore line to a depth of approximately 180 m. Activities
• Chimpanzee trekking;
• Game fishing and snorkelling; visit the site of Henry Stanley’s famous “Dr Livingstone I presume” at Ujiji near Kigoma, the Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains,
• And watch the renowned dhow builders at work on the lake shore.
Best Time To Visit
It is better to visit the area in the months of July-October and late December due to the fact that during this time chimps and other species are easily seen in the area and it is easier to get better pictures.
3. Lake Eyasi
Lake Eyasi is a salt lake situated between the Rift Valley’s escarpment and the Kidero Mountains. This Lake is covers about 1,050 km2 (400 square miles) of area, 1,040 m (3400 feet) above sea level, and also it is about 50 km long.
The Hadzabe Bushmen lives in this region, together with the Datoga and Mbulu tribes. A visit to the Bushmen is worthwhile as they will graciously show you where and how they live and hunt. The Hadzabe have inhabited the acacia forests and scrubland around Eyasi lake for over 10,000 years and visits to nearby clans can be arranged through local guides in the area.
Lake Eyasi is located in the northern part of Tanzania, at the southwest corner of Ngorongoro Crater conservation area highlands .The Lake lies west of Lake Manyara and approximately 95 miles (155 km) southwest of Arusha. Lake Eyasi is just over an hour drive south-west of Karatu town and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The weather is nearly always very hot and intense, as the lake is located in floor of the oldest Rift Valley in the world.
• Wildlife Wildlife found in the area including leopard and lion.
• Vegetation There are vegetation like umbrella thorn acacia and sand paper bush
• Birds Birds found in the area are like Africa spoonbill, flamingos, gray headed gulls, great white pelicans, pied avocet and yellow-billed storks.
• Fish The main fish found in the lake are catfish and lungfish.
• Hadzabe Culture The Lake is well known and attracts many visitors because of visiting the Hadzabe Bushmen who can accompany you with them on their traditional hunt.
• Bird watching safari
• Cultural safari
• Photographic safari
Best Time To Visit
Almost any time of year is a good time to visit Lake Eyasi. Only between April and May it can be questionable because of heavy long rains.
4. Lake Natron
Lake Natron is a natural alkaline soda lake and one of a series of the East Africa Rift Valley lakes.
The Lake measures a maximum of 57 km in length, is quite shallow, with less than 3 m deep, and it normally varies in width depending on its water level. It is known as a soda lake due to its exceptionally high concentration of sodium carbonate.
Lake Natron itself is a soda lake that attracts an abundance of bird life including thousands of flamingos. The area hosts a pristine forest reserve and grass plains that extend into the Rift Valley.
The Lake is located in the Northern Tanzania, north of Ngorongoro highlands and south of the active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai. Accessible within 5 to 6 hours drive from Arusha town. The first 2 hours are on good tarmac and the rest from “Mto wa Mbu” to Lake Manyara is rough bush roads. Temperatures of mud at this lake can reach up to 50°C and the alkaline levels can reach pH 9.5 to 10.
• Birds There are thousands of flamingos which feed in the area.
• Vegetation There are classic flat-topped acacia trees, interspersed by mountains, rocky hills and scenic sand rivers.
• Animals Animals that are found in this area are Grant’s gazelle, gerenuk, lesser kudu, fringe-eared oryx, leopard, Thomson’s gazelle, dik-dik, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, impala, klipspringer, eland, steinbuck, jackal, baboon and Chandler’s mountain.
• Bird watching
• Mountain climbing
• Game viewing
• Visit the Nomadic Maasai village
• Tented camp
5. Lake Nyasa
Lake Nyasa is the third largest African Great Lake after Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. This lake is the eighth largest lake in the world and it has a total surface area of about 29,600 square kilometers, 550 kilometers long, and 75 kilometers wide.
It is the second deepest lake in Africa and its tropical waters have more fish species than any other lake on Earth. The water in Lake Nyasa is typically alkaline with a pH of 7.7 to 8.6. The first European to reach Lake Nyasa was David Livingstone in 1859 and named this lake as Lake Nyasa. Much of the area surrounding the lake was subsequently claimed by the United Kingdom to form the colony of Nyasaland.
The Lake is located in the southern part of Tanzania between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It borders all three countries. It is located about 350 kilometers southeast of Lake Tanganyika. On the surface, this lakes water has temperature that ranges from 24 to 29 degrees Celsius (75 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) and its deep water the temperature reaches about 22 °C (72 °F) year round.
• Wild Animal Crocodiles and hippopotamus are found in the large numbers in this lake.
• Fish For Fish lovers, Lake Nyasa biologically is the most diverse lake, containing approximately 30% of world’s cichlid species (colorful fish which are easily seen in the lake’s clear water).
• Canoeing down the river
• Hiking around lake
• Water skiing
• Trips to the islands located along the lake
• Beach football
• Lutheran Centre
• Matama Beach resort which is on the northern shores of Lake Nyasa.
6. Lake Manyara
Lake Manyara has alkaline waters with a pH near to 9.5 and covers approximately 89 square miles (231 km2) of area. The name Manyara comes from theMaasai word emanyara, which is a euphorbia species of plant that is grown into a hedge around a family homestead (Euphorbia tirucalli).
Lake Manyara National park is located in northern Tanzania. Its entrance gate lies 126 km (80 miles) west of Arusha town and close to the market town of “Mto wa Mbu”.
You can visit Manyara National park by road from Arusha, use the same route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. By charters or scheduled flights from Arusha. Use the same route to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Lake Manyara is generally warm to hot throughout the year, with temperatures rising to above 35°C/95°F during the warmest months (September, October and January). Two periods of monsoon winds bringing the park, the long rains are from March to May, the short rains are between October and December.
The park’s annual rainfall reaches up to 650mm of rain.
• Climbing Lions Lake Manyara’s tree climbing lions are the main attraction in the area.
• Abundance Of Wildlife The area is famous for its large number of elephants; huge number of baboons, and because of its nature, this lake has an impressive range of other game including wildebeest, buffalo, hippo, zebra, warthog, waterbuck, dik-dik and impala.
• Birds This lake is fascinating and very attracting for birds’ watchers, especially raptors and flamingos.
• Game drives
• Night game drives
• Canoeing (when the water levels is sufficiently high)
• Cultural tours
• Bush lunch & dinner
• Mountain bike tours
• Forest walks on the escarpment outside the park.
• July-October (Dry season for large mammals)
• November-June (Wet season for bird watching, the waterfalls and canoeing).
• Luxury tree house-style camp (1pc)
• Public bandas
• Tented camp
• Lodges on the lift wall (3pcs)
Best Time To Visit Lake Manyara
National Park is good all year long, but at its best from late June to September, during the dry season.