You hear the call of a fish eagle as you slowly open your eyes to a magical view and the entrancing sounds of Africa. This is Lake Shore Lodge in Tanzania, situated on the shore of the longest fresh water lake on the planet — Lake Tanganyika.
In December 2018 my husband and I, being South Africans, decided to go on a journey up in Africa. A trip to see the magnificent silverback gorillas in the remote country of Uganda sounded like a good idea to explore our neighboring countries.
This proved to be a bigger excursion than we anticipated, and after equipping our 4×4 vehicle with a rooftop tent and other necessities, we started our four-week journey of a lifetime.
On our travels up north, we crossed through the beautiful country of Tanzania and ended up staying at a magical resort called Lake Shore Lodge. As we entered the gate we saw a big sign that read: “Come as visitors, leave as friends”. Little did we know at that stage how true these words would become.
On our second day we did the sunset cruise on the lake. I for one cannot be near water and not be IN it, so at the first opportunity, I jumped in the lake for a snorkel experience around Nkondwe Island. Our gracious hosts, Chris and Louise Horsfall, filled us in on the amazing cichlids in the lake and mentioned there isx` one particular cichlid that can only be found around that one little island.
Nowhere else on the planet will you ever be able to see this beautiful little fish!
Meanwhile my husband started chatting to our hosts, and he learned that they are interested in becoming a dive location. As true ambassadors, we introduced them to NAUI, and Chris, being already an advanced diver, started his NAUI career right there that will eventually take him to NAUI Instructor level next year.
Six months later, I returned and ended up spending almost the entire month of June training at this wonderful and exotic place, and I am now proud to announce that Chris Horsfall is a qualified NAUI Divemaster and Lake Shore Lodge is a NAUI affiliate and dream destination.
History and facts:
Lake Tanganyika is the second oldest, second largest by volume, and second deepest lake (1,470 meters/4,820 feet) in the world. This body of water makes up a staggering 16 percent of the fresh water on earth. Lake Tanganyika is situated within the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African rift, and is confined by the mountainous walls of this rift valley.
Thanks to its age and ecological isolation, it’s home to a great number of endemic fish. Of the 300 fish species, 95 percent of them are endemic. The cichlid species dominate. Almost all of the Tanganyika cichlids are endemic to the lake. This is an important biological resource for the study of speciation in evolution.
Why I love Lake Tanganyika:
Unlike almost any of the other dive locations I have visited since 1998, the cichlids in this lake have personality. Once you get to know them, you can’t forget them. All the species have something that make them unique to watch, and on every dive you can’t wait to see more of the amazing little animals.
The Cyathopharynx foae (I call it the butler) builds a huge sand nest on a rock and lo and uard the nest. If someone puts something in his nest that does not belong there, out it goes! He will keep a watchful eye, and he is forever cleaning his house while keeping other males at bay and flirting with all the females who come to visit his palace.
The amazing thing about most of these creatures is that they do not have teeny tiny shovels! They use their mouths to create these rather large nests and they are proud protectors and owners of their handiwork.
The Haploxtaxodon microlepis, which I like to call the vacuum cleaners, are extremely good parents. Whenever they have babies and there’s a threat, they open their mouths and suck all the babies in like a vacuum cleaner. When the threat is gone they spit all the babies out and life continues as if nothing happened.
The male Lamprologus callipterus, also known as the thief, builds a harem on the lake floor with empty shells. These shells are big enough to provide shelter for many females to live in and lay their eggs which he inseminates. If there is another harem owner nearby, he will wait in anticipation for the first harem boss to run an errand elsewhere and using stealth mode, he will swim over to the neighboring harem and steal a shell with a female to add to his collection of girls.
These are only three of the hundreds of magnificent cichlids that roam the lake. After meeting the lake inhabitants, I fell in love with them, and I will surely go back as often as I can to say hi to all the new fishy friends I made in a very short time.
Why I love Lake Shore Lodge:
Apart from the lodge being a five-star haven in the midst of Africa, surrounded by water and parks, Chris and Louise Horsfall, who own and manage this beautiful place, treat every guest like royalty. There offer fine food experiences, immaculate accommodation options, and spa treatments for everyone. Kayaking on the lake is another experience not to be missed, and the sunset cruise on the lake where you often see hippos and an array of birds is the ultimate experience — except for scuba diving of course!
With water temperatures all year between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius (75-81 degrees Fahrenheit), you can be sure of excellent diving conditions and a holiday that you will never forget.