Zambia feels like it has a plethora of hidden gems. Lake Tanganyika is one such gem, but as it’s over 1,500 kilometers from Victoria Falls, few make the journey. Lake Tanganyika sits at the northern most point of Zambia and its waters are shared with Tanzania, Congo and Burundi. The 19th century explorer, David Livingstone famously said that Lake Tanganyika was “an area of unsurpassed beauty”. Over 100 years later this still holds true.
Lake Tanganyika is the world’s longest freshwater lake (around 677km) and sits along the Great African Rift Valley. This breathtaking lake is home to Zambia’s secret “beaches”. During your visit, you can also enjoy neighboring Nsumbu National Park, have some watersport adventures, and visit the nearby waterfalls. This part of Zambia really does have it all.
When to visit Lake Tanganyika
Zambia is a country defined by its wet and dry seasons, so knowing when to visit certain locations is a must. Not only is it important to know when to travel for your actual holiday but also so you know you’ll be able to get there (roads become impassable!).
Zambia’s rainy season is typically between mid-November and April, you should avoid this time entirely! Trust me, it’s simply not worth being stuck in a car, caked in mud, trying to dig yourself out of a ginormous puddle. Between May and mid-August, it’s technically Zambia’s “winter”. Whilst the mornings are a little nippy, once the sun is out, you’ll be jumping in Lake Tanganyika with no reservations.
Many argue the best time to visit the lake is between August and mid-October – during this time, a tropical paradise awaits. This is also one of the best times to visit the Nsumbu National Park, as elephants in search of water can be seen drinking at the lake. It is also way more feasible to drive there, as the roads will be dry and in better condition.
Things to do in the Lake Tanganyika area
While you may want to visit to relax and escape everyday life, there’s a surprising amount to do at Lake Tanyanika. As you may expect, there are a number of water sports to choose from, but you can also head to the nearby national park to see some of Zambia’s wildlife.
One of the best things to do whilst at Lake Tanganyika is to jump in the water and get involved in some of the fantastic watersports they have on offer. Snorkeling is one of the best activities you can try. Right outside of Ndole Bay Lodge there is an excellent reef that has been protected for quite some time. If you’re staying at Ndole Bay Lodge, then there is snorkeling equipment free for you to use. Head there early in the morning as it’s the best time to see the fish. Snorkel and you’ll see many cichlids, in fact this freshwater lake has around 200 species of cichlid. Once underwater, you’ll completely forget you’re in a landlocked country.
Ndole Bay Lodge also offers scuba diving, they are the only registered dive facilities in the entire country. Ndole Bay Lodge really does have it all. It’s a one stop shop for exploring Lake Tanganyika. There are even several diving and accommodation packages you can choose, saving you some money on your trip. If that wasn’t enough, they also offer waterskiing, wake boarding and tubing excursions.
Lake Tanganyika is a mecca for freshwater fishing enthusiasts. It provides anglers with some of the best freshwater fishing anywhere in the world. Some of the common species you can expect to catch are Tanganyika Perch, Lake Salmon, Nkupi (Yellowbelly), Tiger fish and Bream.
Relax on a beach
In between adventures and excursions there will be some time to relax on Zambia’s premier “beach”. Despite it not being an ocean beach, spend just a few moments at Lake Tanganyika’s beaches and you’ll forget you are around 1,150km from the nearest ocean (the Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania). In addition to Ndole Bay Lodge’s large beach, there are a couple of other small beaches, including Chisanse Beach and two unnamed spots opposite Nsumbu Island.