LAKE NGOSI, THE UNIQUE LAKE IN TANZANIA
Lake Ngosi : Tanzania is a thrilling tourist destination for every safari-goer who is interested in exploring unspoiled nature of this peaceful country. Tanzania is home to many spectacular attractions. These include the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest intact caldera, Serengeti National Park which hosts the planet’s biggest mammal migration and other stunning attractions. In Tanzania you have many choices of exploring including wonderful national parks, game reserves, lakes, mountains, cultural groups and other natural wonders.
Tanzania is endowed with a lot of inland lakes which are very attractive. Most of these lakes are freshwater lakes. They include Lake Victoria, Lake Rukwa, Lake Natron, Lake Eyasi, Lake Nyasa and Lake Manyara to name a few. Apart from these lakes which are famously known, a unique lake found in the south of Tanzania called Lake Ngosi is worth a visit. This is the second largest Crater Lake in Africa from Lake Wench found in Ethiopia.
Lake Ngosi is located in Mbeya City in the Rungwe District near Tukuyu town in the Southern Circuit of Tanzania. It is accessible from Mbeya city. You can reach Mbeya city by air through various charter flights organized from various regions. Songwe Airport is a first destination for those coming to Mbeya by airplanes from any region in Tanzania. By road you can book a private or public transport to Mbeya. Lake Ngosi is about 38 kilometers away to the south of Mbeya city. It is a two-hour drive from Mbeya city through Uyole, Tukuyu and finally to the edge of the Uporoto Forest Reserve. From there you will have to walk slowly to the lake since vehicles are not allowed to penetrate this forest.
Lake Ngosi is a part of the Uporoto Mountains range the branch of the Eastern Arc Range. It is situated on the Ngosi peak on the Uporoto Mountain range at 2600 meters above the sea level in a thick forest which covers about 9332 hectares. Lake Ngosi has a length of 2.5 kilometers, width of 1.5 kilometers and 75 meters deep. The name “Ngosi” comes from the word “Ligosi” (a “Safwa” word which means Big One).
Historically, Ngosi volcano is said to collapse about one million years ago. it was formed after the collapse of magma chamber into its magma beneath creating a large depression which on violent eruptions it formed a soda lake. Therefore, Lake Ngosi is said to be formed about 12000 years ago during Plinian eruption. It is a Holocene caldera which formed Kitulo pumice around 12000 years ago. This is one of the wonderful volcanoes found in Tanzania said to have erupted many years ago. The lake itself suffers no observable fluctuations in sea level. The walls of the caldera are bordered by evergreen rainforest. This surrounding forest was once occupied by the Safwa locals who developed some spiritual and religious beliefs on the existence of such lake.
Your trip to Lake Ngosi will be more rewarding as you will be able to experience, see and explore many things. These include boat safaris and canoeing, birding, mountain biking, trekking, cultural visit and camping safari.
Canoeing and boat safaris. If it is your pride to canoe in the second largest crater lake in Africa, it is up to you. There are many tour operators which organize these rewarding Tanzania safaris. Boat safari is always associated with funny things like sport fishing. You will experience how it feels to do a catch-and-release on a speedboat. On your safari, you will be luck to meet with various aquatic animals like fishes and large reptiles like snakes.
Cultural visits. Ngosi crater is surrounded by the Safwa and Nyakyusa tribes. These communities are very charming to new visitors and would be happier to have you in their village. You will taste their sweet local food and try their dressings. The Nyakyusa had beliefs linked with the existence of Lake Ngozi. You will be able to hear about them being narrated by elders in the village. Here are the tales in short words;
A Sharman named Lwembe once lived in one of the Nyakyusa village, Ulewana near Makete. People used to believe that he was witch who used his magical trickery to steal and kill people. He was chased from his birth village (Ulewana) and moved close to the shores of Lake Ngosi. People started to disappear whenever they came close to the shore so do the herds of cows and other livestock. In response to that, the Nyakyusa elders met and found a solution for that problem. They heated a huge rock in a fire for three days and rolled it into the lake casting their own magic spells. After that there was no more cases of people missing. It is believed that the Sharman died in hot water caused by the hot rock rolled into the lake.
Another myth is that. It is believed that the German soldiers dumped a huge amount of treasure into the waters of Lake Ngosi. To protect that treasure they made their own spells. Some says there was an emission of poisonous gases which were later proved to happen because of volcanic activity of the Ngosi volcano. Everyone who came across to the area close to the treasure died because of poisonous gases. About seven snakes were also believed to guard the treasure. They come out of the water surface on sunny days. Recent researchers have suggested that the lake hosts snakes which the natives linked to protect the German treasure. It is not clear if the treasure was real or a mystery.
Camping. Lake Ngosi is found in the deep African forest which surrounds it. If camping is your funny thing, the tourist companies are excellent at providing you with superb services at their mobile and permanent camps. Nearest accommodations include Tesha home, Hill View Hotel, Peace of Mind Rest House, Utengule Coffee Lodge, Royal Tughimbe Hotel, The Game Inn Hotel, Mount Livingstone Hotel, Bonaki Hotel, Beaco Resort, Ifisi Community Centers, Kaunda Avenue and Mbeya Hotel. All these accommodations are affordable to you without breaking your bank account. The average price is TSH 135, 654 per day. The services are superb including single and double rooms, suite bar, safaris and conferences. All of these are given just to make you feel like you are home while enjoying the scenes of African wilderness especially this unique lake.
Trekking. This crater lake is surrounded by a natural forest which covers about 9332 hectares. Apart from this forest Ngosi crater is part of the Uporoto Mountains range which is a thrilling place for mountain trekking. The crater itself is found on the Ngosi peak which is about 2600 meters above the sea level. Before reaching this crater you will have to hike past valleys and kopjes which will make your trip so rewarding. If your camp is very close to the range, you can decide to go for morning run every morning climbing the range with an armed ranger. This also forest hosts some species like chameleon, antelopes, monkeys and bird species. Trekking this forest will expose you to endemic three horned chameleon, birds and monkeys.
Visiting other nearby attractions. Lake Ngosi is positioned very close to other stunning attractions worth paying a visit. These include Daraja la Mungu (God’s Bridge), Loleza peak, Songwe Bat Caves, Kaporogwe waterfalls, Kitulo National Park, Mount Livingstone, Matema Beach and Mwakipembo waterfalls. Kitulo National Park renowned as “Serengeti of Flowers” by the visitors is the famous small national park found in the southern Tanzania. It is home to over 360 plant species including 67 species of orchids. This destination can be your thrilling one if you are funny of flora species. Matema Beach is a clean sandy beach found in Kyela. This is a nice place for swimming and relaxing with your friend. Other attractions include Nhumbe Valley, Nhumbe waterfalls and Usalama waterfalls.
The Southern Circuit has a lot to offer to every visitor who choose this region. Lake Ngosi is just a piece of other unspoiled nature found in this region. Putting all these attractions in words is impossible but by paying a visit to this place is awesome. Consider planning a trip.