The Best Kept Secret of Tanzania: Lake Tanganyika

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Lake Tanganyika, an African Great Lake divided between four countries:  Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania, and Zambia -  Bing Gallery

Lake Tanganyika, the longest lake in the world (660km), is one of the best kept secrets and one of the most beautiful places to visit in Tanzania. This incredible rift lake is home to biological diversity hotspot with over 2,000 species of plants, fish, birds and invertebrates that are only found in this part of the world. But the one animal that steals the show is the cichlids (home aquarium fish). There are over 250 types of cichlids, each more colorful and more beautiful than the next. Most species of cichlids are specialized feeders so many different types can live together without too much competition, allowing visitors to see all kinds of cichlids on their visit. The best way to see these colorful creatures is, of course, through a scuba diving adventure.

Scuba diving in Lake Tanganyika. PC: SENE

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Cichlids in Lake Tanganyika. PC: Ruchika Anand






The second deepest lake in the world (1,436m), Lake Tanganyika was formed when two tectonic plates move apart from on another to form a divergent boundary. Since this divergent boundary was formed between two continental plates, a rift valley was created. Great amounts of water collected at the bottom to create a rare type of lake: a rift lake. Lake Tanganyika is one of the oldest lakes, estimated to be between 9 and 13 million years old. Today, Lake Tanganyika supports one of the largest fisheries with approximately 100,000 fishermen at 800 different sites working along the lake.

Journeys | Sarina Othman

Fishing boat on Lake Tanganyika. PC: Sarina Othman

Lake Tanganyika connects four different African countries: Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Visiting off the coast of Tanzania allows you to not only enjoy the lake but the national parks that sit along its shores: Gombe Stream National Park and Mahale Mountain National Park. Situated in the north-western corner of Tanzania, most visitors come to Gombe Stream National Park for the chance to sit with our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees. Further south along Lake Tanganyika, visitors looking for a more remote adventure can stay in Mahale Mountain National Park. At both places, enjoy a lovely boat safari as you look for the hippos and crocodiles that abound in the water and the hundreds of birds that fly over you.

Chimpanzee in Mahale Mountain National Park.