Lake Tanganyika and Gombe
So remote, you will feel as if you have travelled to the end of the world, Lake Tanganyika is one of the most beautiful and untouched lakes of the Rift Valley. Combine a visit here with a trip to the famous Gombe Stream National Park, which lies on the lake’s northern shore. Tanzania’s smallest park, Gombe was first brought to the world’s attention by the work of Jane Goodall during the 1960s.
Lake Tanganyika is thought to be the longest lake on the planet, stretching for a vast 673 kilometres. Added to this, it is the second largest and second deepest freshwater lake in the world. Divided between four countries, Tanzania possesses the lions’ share of the lake, while Burundi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all lay claim to parts of the remainder. Located on the western edge of the Rift Valley, the lake is partially confined by its mountainous walls.
It’s also thought that Lake Tanganyika is one of the world’s oldest lakes, at between 9 and 13 million years old. Owing to this and the lake’s ecological isolation, it is home to an extensive variety of marine life, including large numbers of endemic fish; these include 98% of the 250-plus species of rainbow-coloured cichlids. Cichlids are popular aquarium fish owing to their vibrant appearance and make Lake Tanganyika an incredible diving and snorkeling destination. In fact, we’d liken the experience to diving into a huge natural aquarium.
Back on land, we suggest a visit to Gombe Stream National Park to see the large population of primates who reside there, including over 100 chimpanzees. Although Tanzania’s smallest national park, its connection to the work of primatologist, Jane Goodall, has brought Gombe global renown. Many of the chimps are habituated, which allows you to watch them at close quarters while they go about their daily lives oblivious to your presence. For us, watching the chimps play, wrestle, groom and feed is one of the most rewarding wildlife experiences in the world.
Gombe Stream is also home to many other primates, including the beachcomber olive baboon, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey and red colobus, which can all be spotted in and around the forest canopy. A trek through the park in search of these many primates is a stunning experience we fully recommend. Surrounded by the lush verdant hills alive with the sound of the forest, it’s a place to indulge yourself in all that nature has to offer.