When Lake Tanganyika is mentioned, many of us think of Tanzania. However, this freshwater Lake occupies the space of four countries that include Tanzania of course (with 46%), Zambia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (sharing 40% of the Lake).
Lake Tanganyika is a Great African Lake, considered the second oldest fresh water lake in the whole World, the second largest by volume, world’s longest freshwater Lake and the second deepest in the World after Siberia’s Lake Baikal but is the deepest in the African continent. This breathtaking Lake is located within the Albertine Rift (at the western arm of the East African Rift Valley), is surrounded by mountainous walls of a deep valley drains into the Congo River system and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Lake measures about 673 kilometers (418 miles) long, 72 kilometers (45 miles) wide, surface area of 32,900 square kilometers (12,700 square miles) and is 1470 meters (4820 feet) deep. However, the catchment area of Lake Tanganyika is about 231,000 square kilometers (89,000 square miles).
Two prime rivers as well as other many smaller streams and rivers drain their waters into the Lake but the main outflow which is River Lukuga empties its waters into the Congo River system. The main River flowing into Lake Tanganyika is the Ruzizi River that is believed to be formed over 10,000 years ago and also enters North of the Lake from Lake Kivu.
Most interestingly, Lake Tanganyika has verdant and serene Islands that include Kibishie Island, Kavala Island, Mamba-Kayenda Islands and Milima Island on the side of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The others such as Kumbula and Mutondwe islands are found on the side of Zambia.
Interesting attractions within Lake Tanganyika
This Lake is a home to several species of Reptiles such as the Nile Crocodiles. The gaint Gustavo has its residence within this Lake, the serrated hinged terrapins and the Pan hinged terrapins are also present. Others include the Storm’s water cobras (the threatened sub-species of the banded water cobras that mainly consume fish and are only present within Lake Tanganyika.
This Lake is also a home to the Cichlid fish with over 250 species present. It’s surprising that at least 98% of the Cichlid fish are endemic to Lake Tanganyika hence making it a significant Biological Area.
There are also over 80 species of non0cichlid fish species within the Lake including the Tanganyika Sardine, the Tanganyika Killifish, 11 species of catfish, 68 freshwater snail species including 45 endemic species, 15 bivalve species including 8 endemic species and more than 200 species of crustaceans including at least 100 endemic species.
Tourist Activities to relish within Lake Tanganyika
Some of the must-do activities within this freshwater Lake include Scuba diving and snorkeling. This is common because of the numerous fish species within the Lake that are worth exploring. There is nothing as breathtaking as exploring the spectacular topography of Lake Tanganyika especially the Storm’s water cobra and can be enjoyed from Ndole Bay Lodge.
Fishing competitions are also conducted within Lake Tanganyika with the most prominent competition hosted at Ndole Bay Lodge in April every year.
Water sport activities such as swimming, waterskiing, kayaking, boating, sailing, Kite surfing and wakeboarding are also common within Lake Tanganyika.
Sport fishing is one of the important tourist activities within Lake Tanganyika and is made possible with the 280 species of Cichlids, the Nile Perch, Sangala Pamba, Nkupi or the Yellowbelly, Lake Salmon, Lake trout, Tiger fish and the Goliath tiger among others.
Besides that, freshwater angling is common with the preferred fish species being the Goliath tiger fish, Nile Perch and Nkupi among others.
In conclusion, Lake Tanganyika is an important tourist area that you should not miss while on an African safari in Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a great source of the numerous fish species that you can try out. There are also lots of reptiles such as the Nile Crocodiles and is popular for exhilarating activities such as sport fishing, scuba diving and fish competitions among others.