lake chala

The BEST Lake Chala is a caldera lake formed 250,000 years ago

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Lake Chala is a caldera lake formed 250,000 years ago, located in eastern Tanzania near Taveta, the border town of Kenya. It is the deepest inland lake in Tanzania, carved in ancient rock and fed by Kilimanjaro underground water. 

Lake Chala

The history of the region is filled with myths and legends, including a story about a Maasai village that disappeared into the lake. Chala is a quiet site away from the crowds of tourists that offers a sense of connection with nature.

Depending on the season, the lake’s color could be deep blue, turquoise, or green. It has a flora that is unique to the area. There is a stunning variety of birds (200 species) including birds of prey, baboons, dik-dik, kudu, pythons, lizards, and possibly migrant elephants.

  • Moshi – Lake Chala day trip
  • Non-game viewing travel time: one hour
  •  Moshi is 55 km away

Meet our professional naturalist guide/driver at the lodge, who will deliver a short safari info briefing, then drive to Lake Chala. You can choose from a nature bush walk, canoeing on the lake, fishing or swimming in the Lake.

Depending on your pace, the bushwalk will last (2-4) hours. You will reach the water by going down a rocky gulley formation. Kilimanjaro can be seen in the background.

When it’s clear, we can have lunch at Lake Chala Lodge with a spectacular view of the lake and Kilimanjaro.

Canoeing is an hour-long activity, and fishing is also an hour-long activity. You can catch the specific Lake Chala tilapia, but you must release it since it is an endangered species is not recommended to swim far from the shore of Lake Chala if you are not an experienced swimmer.

You can swim in Lake Chala but it is recommended to stay close to the shore if you are not a strong swimmer. There are no dangerous aquatic creatures in the lake, but the seventy meters drop-off at the bottom is a warning.

Afterward, the driver will take you back to the lodge for your next adventure.

Lake Chala: A Geographical History

An ancient caldera lake called Lake Chala lies some 30 kilometers southeast of Kilimanjaro (52 kilometers from Moshi), and is 95 meters deep, making it deeper than Lake Victoria. This is believed to be the caldera of the first volcanic eruption some three-quarters of a million years ago. According to recent geological research, a magma chamber under Lake Chala collapsed after nearby volcanoes erupted, which created the crater lake.

What is now the Kilimanjaro massif is the result of the great eruptions that caused the Great Rift, a giant fault in the earth’s crust that runs through East Africa. 

When molten lava burst through the fractured surface of the land, huge pressures pushed part of the Earth’s crust upward, forming the Shira volcano, the oldest of the Kilimanjaro volcanoes. 

Following the extinction of Shira, Mawenzi formed after another eruption within the  Shira caldera. Today, some of Mawenzi’s volcanic shape remains.  

An eruption 100,000 years later led to the formation of Kilimanjaro’s characteristic shiny black stone, which poured from Kibo’s crater into Shira’s caldera, creating the so-called ‘Saddle’. 

In an area around Chala, later eruptions created a series of distinctive mini-cones, or parasitic craters, which run south-east to north-west across the mountain. 

Chala Lake is fed entirely by underground streams from Kilimanjaro, hence its normally clear waters. Through its underground systems, Chala feeds Lake Jipe, which is located more than 30 kilometers away.

Since water levels have been dropping over the last few years, there has been concern that one of the caves may have collapsed, or maybe the water from Kilimanjaro is no longer soaking down so deeply because of melting glaciers and reduced rainfall.      

 

American explorer and best-selling author May French Sheldon (1847-1936) was one of the first white women to visit parts of eastern and central Africa. Her circumnavigating of Lake Chala, which lies inside a steep volcanic cone, attracted universal attention during her 1891 explorations.    

Legends and Myths   

‘POPULAR SCIENCE’, 1893 

“It is believed that the Masai once lived in a village on the mountain where the crater lake now gurgles, during a volcanic eruption of Kilimanjaro.

 They were blown into the air, with their cattle and poultry, while their spirits hang in space. The wind can still be heard blowing through the trees, the strange rustling sound caused by the reflection of the cliffs surrounding the lake is caused by their spirits. 

 There is a lot of fish in this lake, but the natives will not eat them. People of the same culture believe their ancestors inhabit the bodies of Colobus monkeys, so they will never knowingly kill one of these animals.

Still, Lake Chala “Moanes” today. Even though the wind may stop blowing on the savannah, it continues to whirl around the crater lake, bouncing off its walls like surf crashing onto a reef.  Waves and wind patterns can cause white horses on the lake surface. 

The lake is now accessible, much of the forest has been cleared and the beliefs above are no longer valid, but there is still superstition among the locals, and some still refuse to go down to the lake. 

SAFARI PACKAGE INCLUDES:

  • Lunch at the Lake Chala Safari camp.
  • Fishing rod and canoe.
  • Naturalist guide with experience in English.
  • Transfers from and to your lodging.
  • Water
  • Park entry fees and 18% VAT

 

THE FOLLOWING ARE EXCLUDED FROM THE PACKAGE:

  • Soft drinks and alcohol
  • Tip (we recommend $20 per car per day)

 

DAY TRIP TO LAKE CHALA:

110 dollars per person (for 2-3 people) and 80 dollars per person (for 4 or more people)

Prices quoted are subject to the current Government-regulated park fees at the time of departure.

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    All about the The BEST Lake Chala is a caldera lake formed 250,000 years ago.

    Lake Chala is a caldera lake formed 250,000 years ago, located in eastern Tanzania near Taveta, the border town of Kenya. It is the deepest inland lake in Tanzania, carved in ancient rock and fed by Kilimanjaro underground water. 

    • Lake Chala: A Geographical History
    • Legends and Myths

     

    The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
    What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
    What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
    1. Day 1 Arrival at Location

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    2. Day 2 Cultural Minglings

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    3. Day 3 Scenic Tour of City

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    4. Day 4 Get to Know Country

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    5. Day 5 Ride the Elephant

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    6. Day 6 Discover the Sectrets

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    7. Day 7 Wild Adventure Begins

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    8. Day 8 Leave with Memory

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    The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance.
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