Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania

Lake Tanganyika, known as the Fossil Water Lake, lies along the Western side of Tanzania, bordering Burundi, the Congo and Zambia.

Lake Tanganyika fills a deep, 4,700 feet, canyon formed by the Great Rift Valley. Due to its huge length (420 miles), and depth, the lake contains nearly 7,413 square miles of water, nearly seven times the amount of water as its neighbour, Lake Victoria. It is the second deepest lake in the world.

The vast majority of this water is ‘dead’ or fossil water that may be as much as 20 million years old. This ‘dead’ water is either too low in oxygen, or too high in hydrogen sulphide to support life. This water was formed by the lack of up-wellings or currents within the lake, allowing the water to simply sit, motionless, and die. Only the top 600 odd feet, moved by storms and the winds, provide for all the life forms within the Lake.

Effectively a land locked inland sea; Lake Tanganyika’s isolation shows itself in the remarkable endemism within its eco-system. Ninety-eight percent of the Lakes’ cichlid fish are unique to the lake. Also endemic are all seven of its crabs, five out of thirteen bivalve molluscs, eleven of its crustaceans and more than half of its gastropod molluscs. The lake is one of the most unique eco-systems in the world.

Steep hills plunge directly down to the lakeshore, in many places; the lake depth is several hundreds of feet just 20 or 30 feet out from the shoreline! Stunning scenery and crystal clear waters enhance the wonders of this seldom-visited area.

Lake Tanganyika also played a part in the European exploration of Africa. The British explorers, Burton and Speke, investigated it as a possible source for the Nile and the famous line: “Doctor Livingstone I presume” was uttered by Stanley on the banks of this immense East African Lake.

For those willing to rough it a little, the lake is well worth a visit! Anyone fancy a swim?

Let me know if you any questions about this part of the world, I am always happy to hear from you!

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