Tag Archives: Africa

Lakeland

When many people think of Tanzania, they probably think of the Serengeti with it’s arid plains teaming with Wildebeest and Zebra.

… or possibly Kilimanjaro’s snow capped peak.

… or maybe Zanzibar and it’s white sands and azure waters.IMG_9951

All these are amazing places and we’ve been to all three  (though we’ve yet to see Kilimanjaro’s peak personally), but Tanzania is as much defined by it’s lakes as anything else – more so in that much of it’s Western Border is Lake and a portion of it’s Northern Border too.

There are three Great Lakes here : Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyassa (more commonly known as Lake Malawi in the outside world – but not in Tanzania or Mozambeque which share it).

We have been lucky enough to visit all three in the past 15 months – in fact we live next to the largest (Lake Victoria) so we visit that one all the time.

Lake Victoria

Shared Between: Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya

Area:68,800 square kilometers (26,600 sq miles)

Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater lake by surface area; only Lake Superior in North America is larger.

Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and is also the largest tropical lake in the world.

The lake is an average of 40m deep and its deepest point is 83m deep. It is therefore quite a shallow lake.

Named after Queen Victoria by it’s European discoverer John Speke it is known as Lake Nyaza in Bantu languages.

Sadly the lake’s ecosystem has been decimated by the introduction of Nile Perch and eutrophication. Thus hundreds of native cichlids have been driven to extinction in the past 50 years. The perch have no natural predator and have destroyed the natural food chains which existed. Increased algae have further choked the lake and the drop in fish population has severely damaged the fishing industry here.

The lake looks lovely but you wouldn’t swim in it’s toxic waters. Raw sewage is dumped into the lake by factories and settlements and increases the eutrophication further.

Bilharzia snails are present in high quantities and as a carrier of Shistosomiasis a potentially fatal disease if left untreated. Sadly locals do swim and wash in it, having no choice but to do so.

It’s sad that this massive body of water on our doorstep is so polluted.

Lake Tanganyika

Shared Between: Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia

Area:32,900 square kilometers (12,700 sq miles)

We visited this beautiful lake over half term, staying near Kigoma at Jacobsen’s Beach.

It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest.  It is 570m deep on average and at it’s deepest it is 1470m deep. Only Lake Baikal in Siberia is deeper and has greater volume.

It is also the world’s longest freshwater lake.

The name “Tanganyika” means “Great Lake spreading out like a plain”

Located in the Rift Valley the lake is relatively unpolluted. Over 250 species of cichlids live in the lake and 75 other species too.

Fishing is a major industry here and has impacted upon the fish.

No lake in Africa is free of Shistosomiasis but it seems to be low level/ risk  in Tanganyika unlike Victoria. We will take praziquantel to be certain but you have to wait a couple of months.

Lake Nyassa (Lake Malawi)

Shared Between: Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique

Area:29,600 square kilometers (11,400 sq miles)

We visited this lake in the summer travelling from Mbamba Bay in Tanzania to Likoma Islands on to Monkey Bay in Malawi.

It is the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa.

It has a depth of 292m on average with a maximum of 706m.

It’s over 1000 species of cichlids makes it very bio diverse. It has in fact the most variety of species of any lake.

The lake is subject to a border dispute with slaw I claiming the entire lake up to the shore of Tanzania whilst Tanzania claims the border is in the middle of the lake.

It is probable that the lake contains Shistosomiasis and slthough we were assured otherwise and although we did swim in it’s clear waters at both Likoma and Monkey Bay we have taken medication to be safe.

Three Great Lakes – all different in their own way and all part of Tanzania.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Ornate Feathered Friends

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate.”

My first offering from the many birds encountered here in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Pictures from Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana

Seedland

Recently I traveled inland away from the lake to Shinyanga – this town  is a few hundred kilometers from Lake Victoria and the differences were stark.

The landscape was arid and dry and the trees were almost autumnal in look – dried and parched leaves decorated the branches but more noticeable were the vast array of seedpods dangling in the breeze.

The beobab trees by contrast were coming into leaf and even had some fruits hanging.

Across the dusty landscape cattle roamed in herds seeking out water. Many river banks were completely dry but others had pools of water dwindling in the sun ahead of the incumbent rainy season.

A Place to Lay Your Head

Accommodation is provided by the school, rent free. We are lucky to live in a great house on the compound and we really like it. Having said all that the sofa has always been a little uncomfortable, wooden arms and thin foam seats make your arms ache and your bum numb fairly quickly.

In the UK we had an L-shaped corner sofa which allowed us to lay out and relax of an evening. It’s one of the things we miss.IMG_5570

At Easter whilst traveling through Uganda we came across this great coffee place in Mbale, for seating they used pallets stacked and topped with foam cushions – the seating was great.

06 Mbale (31)

So we had an idea- find some pallets and get a ‘Fundi’ to make some cushions – hey presto a new (and cheap) sofa.

The first thing we needed was to source the pallets. A chance conversation with the husband of a colleague gave us a solution. His company regularly receive goods on pallets and they were just thrown away. So we arranged that next time pallets were delivered we would get some.

I arrived home last Friday to find a stack of pallets in the garden – so game on!

The first job was to arrange the pallets into a frame upon which to make the sofa.

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Saturday, we headed to town to find material to make the cushions – there is a place to buy foam nearby and we started there.

Sadly the foam was completely inappropriate and we moved on – as we did so we exchanged greeting with a guy who turned out to be a businessman who in cconversation it turned out knew a man who knew a man who knew a man who could make our furniture. Through a series of meetings over the next hour we arranged to have the furniture made at a very reasonable cost.

Our guy knew where to get the best foam and good sofa covering – so over the next two hours we went around town procuring the materials.

Our fundi (a word meaning worker) was able to construct the sofa over two days and so it began. He brought across his manual sewing machine and over the two days he modified the pallets, cut the foam and made the covers.

Butterflies and Bougainvillea

Since our return to Mwanza there seem to be a lot more Butterflies around of various types flitting about amongst the rejuvenated Bougainvillea plants. These thorny bushes not only deter unwelcome visitors but they look attractive with their brightly coloured leaves surrounding the true flowers of this vine.

Our African Journey

Wehave just returned from our epic journey across Africa – if you did not catch it you van read about it by clicking on any links below.

This is an update to the original as our plans changed throughout the course of our journey.

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An epic journey – on public transport throughout – we survived and you can read about it here.

TANZANIA

Day 1 – Mwanza to Dar Es Salaam

Day 2 – Dar Es Salaam to Songea

Day 3 – Songea to Mbamba Bay

Day 4 – Mbamba Bay

Day 5 – Mbamba Bay  and Night Crossing  to Likoma Island

MALAWI

Day 6 – Likoma Island

Day 7 – Likoma Island

Day 8 – Likoma Island to Nkhotakota (Ilala Ferry)

Day 9 – Nkhotakota to Monkey Bay (Ilala Ferry)

Day 10 – Monkey Bay

Day 11 – Monkey Bay to Zomba

Day 12 – Zomba (Chilimba Village)

Day 13 – Zomba (Plateau)

Day 14 – Zomba to Liwonde to Dedza

Day 15 – Dedza to Lilongwe

Day 16 – Lilongwe to Lusaka

ZAMBIA

Day 17 – Lusaka to Livingstone

Day 18 – Livingstone (Victoria Falls)

Day 19 – Livingstone to Chobe National Park (Botswana)

Day 20 – Livingstone

Day 21 – Livingstone to Lusaka

Day 22 – Lusaka to Kapiri Mposhi

Day 23 – Kapiri Mposhi to Mbeya (Tazara Train)

TANZANIA

Day 24 – Mbeya to Dar Es Salaam (Tazara Train)

Day 25 – Dar Es Salaam (Kipopea Beach Resort)

Day 26 – Dar Es Salaam (Kipopea Beach Resort) to Moshi

Day 27 – Moshi

Day 28 – Moshi (Coffee Plantation)

Day 29 – Moshi to Mwanza

A Day of Packing

Tomorrow we head to Dar on the first leg out our holiday (vacation) to South Central Africa. A journey that will hopefully take us to Malawi, Zambia and Botswana. We’re going to be traveling by Boat, Train, Coach and Plane and if you are interested you can follow our journey on a dedicated blog Victoria to Victoria.

Today has been a day of packing and as we are planning to save costs by camping, we need to squeeze in our recently purchased tent along with the clothes.

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It’s probably a good thing as it limits the clothes we will take (I am never good at choosing what to take!). Once in Dar we’ll re-jig  for our onward journey, but planes have rules and needs must.

Almost a year ago we were packing in a much bigger way as we were approaching moving day and leaving England for Tanzania – time has flown fast.