Found at the border of Kenya and Tanzania, Lake Chala is one of the most unexplored water bodies in Kenya.
It is a fascinating crater lake on the eastern side of the great Mount Kilimanjaro.
The lake is situated 5 miles north of Taveta in Kenya and 34 miles east of Moshi town in Tanzania.
Additionally, it is 30 kilometers in the southeast direction of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Features of the crater lake
Lake Chala came into existence 250,000 years ago after volcanic activity on Mount Kilimanjaro and is one of the oldest volcanic lakes in the country.
The crater rims are 560 feet tall. The water in the lake majorly comes from groundwater on the montane forest part of the mountain.
The Lake covers an area of 4 square kilometers and is 98 meters deep and actually surpasses Lake Victoria in terms of depth.
Additionally, the watercolor in the lake varies from green, turquoise to deep blue, and this is occasioned by the freshwater streams found under the crater.
Well, the lake also feeds Lake Jipe found 30 kilometers away through its underground channels.
Rainwater collecting on the crater contributes about 20 percent of the lake’s volume.
However, due to massive climate change, the evaporation rates on the lake pose a threat to the lake’s normal volume and the surrounding wildlife.
Wildlife at Lake Chala
Wildlife found around this magnificent water body comprises 200 species of birds and other animals that include:
- Peregrine falcons,
- Colobus Monkeys
- Vervet Monkeys,
- Blue Monkeys
- Monitor Lizards
- Bush-Bucks among others
Elephants are visible crossing through the Amboseli National Park and the neighboring Tsavo National Park.
Additionally, this Lake is unique in that it hosts a rare tilapia fish species in the world known as – Oreochromis hunteri.
Predominant flora near the lake includes thorny shrubs, giant trees, and the Aloe Penduliflora Baker.
An American explorer, May French Sheldon, explored and wrote about Lake Chala and in 1964, soldiers from the British army helped in the creation of a path to the lake.
Additionally, the limelight was cast on the developments around the lake in the year 2002.
Amy Nicholls, a British student, was mauled and killed by a crocodile while swimming, her demise attracted a lot of attention to the Chala area.
However, the attention appeared to create fear among locals and tourists as it was claimed the waters were dangerous.
The superstitious locals often believed that the souls of previous Maasai inhabitants were trapped in the waters and surrounding wild animals.
The death of the Briton only exacerbated their fears and as a community, the locals held prayers and offered animal sacrifices at the lake.
Led by the Njama, a council of elders, the community enshrined the Chala lake.
The Lake Chala Area
The area surrounding the lake is served by the Chala-Rombo road in the county of Taveta.
There are thorny wild bushes that run through narrow and isolated paths that lead to the crater lake.
The Chala area may seem rugged to the eye but the lake gives it a whole new and refreshing look.
Adjacent to the Lake is a seasonal river. The soil erosion on the river walls gives a picturesque scenery that every tourist loves.
It’s almost similar to that found at Hells Gate Park.
The common activities that you can take part in include swimming, canoeing, and fishing.
The Lake has deep blue waters that are alluring.
In addition, there are designated shores for swimming for a safe tourism experience.
The magnificent view of Mount Kilimanjaro on a clear sunny day is a spectacular experience.
The people in the Chala area come from clans such as the Suya, Mnene, Ruttu, Zirai, and Ndingiri.
The fear of locals visiting Lake Chala is advised by an old folk tale that claims a whole Maasai village got lost in the lake.
As such, the Taveta people avoid visiting the “haunted lake.”
As a result of the inherent fear of spirits hovering around the lake, the locals have managed to refrain from destroying wildlife in the region.
The renewed interest in the lake comes as a welcome distraction for tourists visiting the southern part of Kenya.
The urge to explore all the hidden treasures in Kenya now makes tourists add Lake Chala to their travel bucket lists.
It is no doubt that Kenya has untapped resources.
But with the right tour company, you can enjoy one of the most breathtaking crater lakes in East Africa.
Book with Zunguka Africa Safaris and experience the majestic and beautiful Lake Chala.
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