Lake Tanganyika

We flew into a small airstrip on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on our way to the Mahale Mountains chimpanzee area. A number of curious local villagers turned out to meet the plane and look at the tourists. From the airstrip, we boarded a wooden dhow and continued along the shore of the lake for more than an hour before we reached the camp where we would spend the next five nights.

The area was very remote. There were no roads anywhere around. All transportation was via the lake. The only electricity came from solar panels or small generators. It was a very peaceful and beautiful spot (and I was not ready to leave when the time came).

Lake Tanganyika is remarkably clean and clear. Visibility under the water reaches more than twenty meters (over sixty feet). Although fresh water in Africa is usually to be avoided (because of crocodiles or various parasites), Lake Tanganyika was both safe and fascinating. On several occasions we went snorkeling and saw quite a few small, but colorful fish. It was also wonderful to be out on the lake at sunset (and after a long, hot day chasing after the chimpanzees, a plunge into the lake was the stuff of dreams).

In addition to the charms of the lake, I was captivated by the villagers and their way of life. Most did not speak English so it wasn't possible to carry on much of a conversation, but I enjoyed being among them and taking some photographs. The children especially were very friendly and eager to see what we were doing and carrying. The cameras particularly fascinated them.