Into Africa - a love story

June 30, 2017

Photos by Rob Besant, Jeremy Stephenson and Ann Abel


Choristers from the Kipili village choir at Lake Tanganyika - by Rob Besant


Excerpt from “Into Africa… a love story” printed in Gentry Magazine.


Lupita Island—“The Untouched Heart of Africa”

After visiting Serengeti and Katavi we came to the far western part of Tanzania.
Covering 130 acres on Lake Tanganyika is Lupita Island, Africa’s paradise—and perhaps yours. It is simply magnificent, mystical and romantic.


Purposefully scattered about are 13 beautifully designed thatched-roof villas, all lavishly decorated,offering breathtaking, uninterrupted views of Africa’s second largest lake. The villas are open and airy but still extremely private — a place, as they say, to “take a deep breath.” Here, you will find a spa, a gym, hiking, kayaking, sailing, diving, fishing, and extraordinary food and service (continental cuisine with an African twist—very healthy, exotic, and varied). Unlike earlier safari camps we visited on this trip, there is an abundance of water and the ordinary niceties of a first class resort, which still remains true to an African heritage.


 Lupita island pool - photo by Jeremy Stephenson


The center of the resort sports an infirmary, a storage building, a magnificent bar and reception area as well as a swim-up bar and a breathtaking room for dining. Sporting thatched roofs and astonishingly large beams, the various structures are replete with a wonderful collection of African artifacts and artistic detail. The same splendid detailing

is displayed in the guests’ quarters.


The villas range in size from 1,600 to 2,500 square feet and the beauty and detail of each is almost beyond description. Your open-air bathroom will supply your shower water from the mouth of a boulder, your open-sided walls will provide not only magnificent views of the lake but will be completely private. The elegance and construction detail is staggering.



photo by Jeremy Stephenson


The bath area of my villa (above), and a picture of it from our helicopter. You can see the same bathtub shown on the far right of the picture below. I also had my own little pool, shown in the bottom photo to the left of the villa.


  My villa on Lupita Island - photo by Elsie Floriani


 Local fisherman on Lake Tanganyika - photo by Rob Besant


Lake Tanganyika, home to Lupita Island, is situated within the Western Rift of the geographic feature known as the Great Rift Valley and is the second largest freshwater lake by volume and depth as well as the world’s longestlake at 481 miles, with water temperature at about 77 degrees.

This is a place for those who have seen everything, been everywhere. You can go alone or rent the island for your exclusive use. This will be an experience you will never forget.

 Children at Mvuna village - photo by Ann Abel


From Lupita, you can take a quick little boat outing to Mvuna Village, a neighboring

island that is home to about 200 people, with tiny rustic huts, the chief and his several wives,and many, many adorable children who, having once spotted your approaching boat, will run to the shore to greet you with smiling, eager faces and shy little greetings. It is a National Geographic moment.


 photo by Rob Besant


During our visit, Belinda Lithgow, the owner of Lupita, well known for giving back to locals in varied ways, brought them a soccer ball as a gift, and they were literally over the moon with joy. It was sweet. Refreshing. It makes one really feel to have taken a step back in time. Innocent young faces; the joy of newness. These charming people will take delight and great pride in showing you their humble dwellings.


Kalambo Falls - photo by Ann Abel


Another day we took a helicopter ride out to see the Kalambo Falls, 90 miles south of Lupita on the Tanzania/Zambia border. A single-drop waterfall, 772 feet high, makes it Africa’s tallest waterfalls. The falls’ cliff-face ledges provide nesting places and breeding sites for a Marabou Stork colony. As your helicopter makes its way back to Lupita, you can fly low over the nearby shores where villagers, hearing the sound of the copter, willstop whatever they were doing to come out and wave to you—fishermen, families, children, all looking up and waving—what a sight. You can never forget moments like that.


And the Mahale Mountains National Park is not so far away, across the water on the edge of the lake a little northwards. Here you can see chimpanzees, so this is another rare and special experience you can have from Lupita.


Last nights can always bring a surprise or two and on Lupita, you might be offered the after-dinner surprise of a group of local choristers from a nearby village. We were lucky enough to have them perform for us. They came suddenly, out of the darkness, to the outside table where we had just finished our dinner, their native chorus ofvoices singing hymns from their church. The strange, unfamiliar but harmonic chanting brought a lump toour throats, and in the eerie stillness of the night we sat mesmerized by this ethereal scene. Here, on an island none of us knew existed, in awe of a culture so etched in time, so unknown to us, we felt to be looking at our past, wondering at what point we entered this cycle of life.


And finally . . . Out of Africa

So what do we take out of Africa? An extraordinary respect for the wonders of nature - the supreme balance of an eco-system unhindered by the interference of man. A profound sense of awe for a God who could create such perfection. And you will carry it with you for the rest of your life.


Thank goodness for those who, with strong determination and real commitment, have created National Parks so that the beauty of nature and the animals who make and keep it so are still in existence for our children and our children’s children to see and know. And thanks, too, to people like Belinda, whose love for the land and the animals that live there helps to keep the conservancy issue alive.


This was my third time in Africa, and each time I experience life-changing moments. In a world fraught with olitical enmity and temporal turbulence, this experience can settle your soul, broaden your base, widen your perspective. Africa will give you a sense of renewal, introduce you to the inevitable source of life in all its forms, and provide a sense of hope that, in the end, there will be no end.


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