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Located in the Western Great Rift Valley of Africa, the crystal clear water of Lake Tanganyika reaches across four countries - Burundi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania. Stretching 420 miles, this lake is the longest freshwater lake in the world and has a maximum width of 31 miles wide and an astounding depth of 4,708 feet. Lake Tanganyika was first brought to the attention of Europeans in February 1858 when English explorers were trying to find the source of the great Nile River.
The shoreline ranges from vertical cliffs, rocky coves, secluded coves, and sandy beaches. The western shores of Lake Tanganyika are mountainous with steep walls reaching over 6,500 feet from the water. The southern shores, which are in Zambia, border Nsumbu National Park and boast the most pristine shores of the huge lake but the water here is teeming with crocodiles so swimming is not advisable. However, the beautiful beaches here are a great vantage point to watch the buffalo, zebra, elephant, lion, leopard, and other wild inhabitants of the park come to the beach to get water and laze in the warm sunshine. Bird watching is also thrilling as the area is home to a wide range of exotic birds as well as a stop over for migrating birds and waterfowl. Three secluded bays within the park, Nkamba Bay, Ndole Bay, and Kasaba Bay offer vacation rentals ranging from an exclusive private lodge sitting on the shores of Lake Tanganyika to individual thatched roof chalets to camping on beachfront sites. It is here that you may choose to enjoy fishing, boating, canoeing, hiking, photography safaris, and snorkeling and SCUBA excursions or simply enjoy the peacefulness of a shaded hammock among the backdrop of an isolated rainforest paradise.
Zambia's only port on Lake Tanganyika is the town of Mpulungu. There is a ferry for travel to northern parts of the lake as well as ships that carry goods to and from the area. Fishing is a major occupation for most villagers as well as a tropical fish industry that exports aquarium fishes all over the world. Due to the age of the lake, possibly over 20 million years old, and the ecological isolation, Lake Tanganyika boasts over 350 species of fish and scientists are continually discovering new species. Some of the most popular fish include the goliath tiger fish, Nile perch, golden perch, vundu catfish, lake salmon, Tanganyika sardine and yellow belly. Every year around March to April, the Zambian National Fishing Competition is held where world record catches have been made.
The main lakeshore settlement in Tanzania is Kigoma which is an attractive town surrounded by groves of mango trees. The town receives visitors from near and far as it is the main ferry town in Tanzania for transportation to other ports along Lake Tanganyika. Visitors also are attracted to the area to visit the world famous Gombe Stream National Park made famous by Jane Goodall, the British researcher of primates, primarily chimpanzees and baboons. Here you will also find the Mahale Mountains National Park made famous as the location of the original question, "Dr. Livingston I presume?" Vacation rentals are also available in this busy town to accommodate visitors of all economic means.
Although the area along Lake Tanganyika is noted for its numerous continuous scientific research, it is also world renowned for its beauty, natural habitats, and untouched wilderness. If you have been searching for an extraordinary destination, choose Lake Tanganyika - it will be a memorable adventure!
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