Lake Tanganyika is the longest freshwater lake in the world and the second deepest. Although only seven percent of the 420-mile lake is in Zambia—the rest is shared out between Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo—there are plenty of activities that can be done there. This is our guide to the best things to see and do at Lake Tanganyika.
With more than 350 different species of fish in the lake, it is a popular site for angling. If you are visiting Tanganyika in March, then sign up for the Tanganyika Angling challenge, which is held in Nsumbu National Park over the course of six days. Ndole Bay Lodge offers fishing trips lasting four or six days. Travelers who would like to head to Tanganyika for fishing should be aware that there is a nationwide fishing ban from December to March (exact dates are to be verified with the lodge). Additionally, the lodge advises ‘catch and release,’ or only taking a small number of fish as there are conservation laws in place. For every fishing trip, a small fee, plus additional Nsumbu National Park fees (USD $10 per person) must be paid, which goes towards Conservation Lake Tanganyika and the Nsumbu Fishing Conservation Committee.
The water temperatures in Lake Tanganyika range between 75–77°F (24–25°C). The clear water (visibility is around 49 feet) and the species of fish make the lake ideal for snorkeling. This is offered by Ndole Bay lodge which is the only fully registered dive facility in Zambia. Guests staying there can have access to snorkel equipment for free, although the snorkel adventure costs extra. There are four sites located within 30 minutes of the lodge that offer different species to see.
Ndole Bay Lodge also offers scuba diving, which takes place close to the shore. The PADI Discover scuba dive is for beginners, while the open water course and adventure dives are for intermediate divers. The advanced and rescue diver course is for advanced divers. The PADI scuba dive costs USD $120 per person, and the local certified scuba dive costs USD $75 per person. Divers can expect to see fish such as the Nile perch. All dives can be upgraded at additional cost to a tropical fish experience, where divers are accompanied by a marine biologist who points out cichlids and gives a tour of a live export facility.
Near the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Nsumbu lie the Nuundo boulders or the ‘balancing stones’, a shrine that the local Tabwa tribe believe is the residence of the fishing god, a spirit that enables a successful fishing season if it receives sacrifices. If visiting at the start of the fishing season (early March), the ceremony where a local witch doctor dressed in white sacrifices a white chicken to the god may be witnessed. Later in the year, baby crocodiles can be seen hatching from their nests and walking towards the water.
Luke’s Beach, or Mishembe Bay, is a secluded, eco-friendly bungalow lodge located on a white sandy private beach with palm strees in the hills of Tanganyika. It is a two-hour boat ride from Mpulungu and costs approximately USD $50 one way. Guests can swim along the shoreline or relax in the hammocks. Camping at the beach is also allowed, with permission from the owner. Kalambo Falls, the second highest waterfall in Africa, can be hiked to from Luke’s Beach in about two hours.
Before the start of the dry season (October), the Muzinga waterfall near Nsumbu is a good place to visit. The fig trees and pools of water provide shade and nourishment for the wildlife that reside in the national park.
Ndole Bay offers tubing, wakeboarding and waterskiing, with the option to teach novices. Kayaking is also offered, with guests staying at the lodge able to borrow kayaks for free. They are also available for hire for non guests.
As most of Nsumbu National Park is not accessible by land, game viewing boat trips are offered. Wildlife that can be seen includes hippo, types of antelope like puku, bushback and blue duiker. Elephants may be spotted on afternoon boat trips. Ndole Bay also offers extended lake safari options.
Ndole Bay offers a sunset cruise for guests at 4 p.m. daily and lasts an hour-and-a-half. There are two routes; one which is the sunset drink route and covers north of the bay, while the Nsumbu island and fish cages cruise covers east of the Ndole bay. On this option of the cruise, guests can see the Nsumbu island, an old slave island.