Tag Archives: Malawi

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.

Sizing Things Up

Maps of the world give a distorted view of things. The countries nearer the poles are enlarged relative to those nearer the equator and so if you look at a map of the earth Tanzania looks much smaller than it is in reality and the UK and USA look much larger than they really are.

UK SizeThere is an interesting website that attempts to rectify this error and I have used it in this blog to show how big Africa and in particular Tanzania are. The website called

http://thetruesize.com/

superimposes a scale sized map of one country onto another.

The maps below were created using this site.

Here is a map of the UK  for reference


UK (Mwanza Kigoma)Having spent 14 hours on the road yesterday traveling from Kigoma to Mwanza it is worth looking at how far it would mean in Britain – the map has been rotated to fit the journey.

On this scale a journey from Mwanza to Kigoma is like traveling from Lincoln to St Austell (in Cornwall) via Brighton.


UK (Mwanza Dar)A trip from Mwanza to Dar Es Salam is equivalent to a journey from from John O’ Groats in the North of Scotland to Thanet in Kent.

Luckily we can fly to Dar  at a reasonable cost.


US (Mwanza Mbale)

Our travels from Mwanza to Mbale and Jinja via Bukoba and Kampala at Easter (including  Murchison Falls in the North) were all taken by bus.

This would be the equivalent of a journey from London to Middlesborough via Bristol, Liverpoool and Manchester with a hop across to Northern Ireland.

Notice that Lake Victoria fills most of Southern and Central England.


UK (Mwanza Moshi)A trip to Moshi where we will meet the Mums at Christmas is like a journey from Edinburgh to Southend via Ayr and Blackpool.

We will fly this December but we went the opposite way by bus in the summer.


For our epic journey of Eastern and Southern Africa – a map of Britain won’t do so instead a map of the USA

USA

We traveled from Mwanza to Zomba then to Livingstone (Victoria Falls) and back again.US East Africa

This was the equivalent of a journey from the North of Ohio via Washingston DC to Southern Alabama and on into Texas.


This shows how vast Africa really is and perhaps how much smaller the USA and UK are really.US Africa

If you want to see how big your country is compared to any other part of the world check out the site for yourself

http://thetruesize.com/

Leaving Malawi

Today we say farewell to Malawi.it has been a great 10 days. Anita has introduced us to her home country of old, the place she lived for almost two years, the people she knew; Paul and Helen; Bambo James and his family; the villagers of Chilimba; Saulos and Patricia; the family of Pastor Ndomondo; Sam. All of these name have become faces to me now.

We have enjoyed traveling from Likoma to Monkey Bay to Zomba, Liwonde, Dedza and now Lilongwe. Malawi is a great place with fabulous friendly people. We shall come back some day I am sure. Next stop Zambia! 

 

Dark Skies

While we were on Lake Nyassa/Malawi we were blessed with some very dark skies. No light pollution and a late rising crescent moon gave us the chance to see the Milky Way in glorious detail. This combined with the fact I was able the find a setting on my camera with a very long exposure and large aperture meant I was able to capture some of this on ‘film’. You can follow our journey across Africa on Victoria to Victoria

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

Out of Contact

We have emerged from a dead zone where internet connectivity was limited or non- existent. This has been both refreshing and frustrating in equal measure.

Our sister blog has suffered as it has not recounted the dailtbtravels over the past 5 days.

We have traveled across Tanzania crossed Lake Victoria into Malawi and now are in Monkey Bay. You can read more on our blog VictoriatoVictoria 

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.

IMG_1826 IMG_1827

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.

Victoria to Victoria

We’re soon going to be going on our travels as the Summer Holidays begin. Our plan is to travel from Mwanza to Livingstone in Zambia (Victoria Falls)  and back taking in Malawi (and Kenya!) on route. The Kenya bit of our journey is a late addition as we need to be in Nairobi in early August to drop my son off for some work experience, resulting in an extra loop.

Our journey will be entirely on public transport – following the success of our trip to Uganda at Easter, plane, coach, train all the way there and back again!

This blog will continue and will summarise our journey once back and some of the more mundane living before, during and after, but we wanted more of a daily travelog as we travelled along on our journey.

You can find all about our trip on a separate blog Victoria to Victoria which will be our travelog – feel free to subscribe.