Lake Tanganyika from space
Lake Tanganyika is located in the Albertine Rift Valley in western Tanzania, and is the longest, the second oldest and second deepest lake in the world. It is the source of the Congo River and is considered one of the most ancient lakes on the planet.
The people of the Lake
A good reason to visit this area is the people living there. Western Tanzania is remote and relatively undiscovered. There is something mysterious and magnetic about Lake Tanganyika. Little travelled and little known to the outside world, the people still hold old beliefs true. It is a place where Christianity and Witchcraft live hand in hand.
The countries surrounding the lake are: Tanzania, Zambia, DR Congo and Burundi.
Wafipa women from Kipili village on Lake Tanganyika, dressed for a choral and dancing performance
In the south-eastern part of the lake, the Fipa (or Wafipa) are an ethnic and linguistic group based in the Sumbawanga ural and Nkasi districts of Rukwa Region.
The other tribal groups on the Tanzania side of the lake are the Holoholo and Jiji peoples in the north.
This vast inland sea was first made known to the European world in the mid 1800’s by the English explorers Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke. They pursued it as the source of the Nile, arriving at its shores in February of 1858, only to discover that the Ruzizi River in the north, which they thought to be the Nile, flowed into and not out of the lake.
A decade later, Dr David Livingstone disappeared in central Africa. Leading an expedition of approximately 200 men, Henry Morton Stanley headed into the interior from the eastern shore of Africa on March 21, 1871. After nearly eight months he found Livingstone in Ujiji, a small village on the shore of Lake Tanganyika on November 10, 1871.
The Birds of Lake Tanganyika
Rukwa ecosystem is a biologically rich area of western Tanzania including Lake Tanganyika and its Islands off the mainland of Kipili village, Lupita included. It has been recorded that there are upward of 500 species of birds occurring in this ecosystem.
This does not take into account the vast array of migratory birds that are flying to their destination over Lake Tanganyika often stopping to rest on the islands en route.
Over 470 fish species, including about 300 cichlids and over 170 non-cichlids, are estimated to inhabit Lake Tanganyika lake basin (De Vos & Snoeks 1994; Snoeks 2000). Lake Tanganyika is the only lake with species-rich lineages of substrate-brooding as well as mouth-brooding cichlids (Coulter 1991; Snoeks 2000).
Blue Neon cichlid, Paracyprichromis nigripinnis
Frontosa (Cyphotilapia frontosa), also known as the humphead cichlid. Juvenile fish.
Lake Tanganyika cichlid: Neolamprologus brichardi
In the deep waters surrounding Lupita Island and the other islands the Giant Nile Perch (Lates angustifrons) and Small Nile Perch (Luciolates stappersii) can be found these are important commercial fishing species.
The Goliath Tiger (Hydrocynus goliath) can also be found in this part of the lake, it is not common and also a good sport fish if anglers were to visit this part of Lake Tanganyika. Other common species found in the waters around Lupita Island are the English Fish or otherwise called the Lake Tanganyika yellow-belly (Boulengerochromis microlepis.
Seventy-nine percent of 287 described fish species are endemic, with more than 95% within the Cichlid family. The lake also supports species in the catfish families, Centropomidae (Lates), living in the muddy depths in the deep waters found around the islands and off the mainland.
Chimps and other wildlife
Young chimpanzee in Mahale National Park - photo by Roy Southworth
Gombe Stream and Mahale National Parks are both on Lake Tanganyika and have populations of Chimpanzees. Also, Katavi National Park is in the southern part of the lake, just 2-3 hours’ drive from Kipili village.
Lupita Island bathtub au naturel - facing Lake Tanganyika
Finally, the sixth reason for visiting this beautiful area, is to stay on Lupita Private island. This resort has just 10 individual cottages, each open-sided and facing the lake. This makes for a special relationship with the nature surrounding the 110 acre isle.
Swim in a mile of water - Lake Tanganyika is still one of the cleanest lakes in the world
Lupita Island - a great place to chill out
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