Lake Eyasi: A salt lake situated between the Rift Valley’s Eyasi escarpment and the Kidero Mountains, the area around Lake Eyasi is home to the Hadzabe bushmen, some of the last remaining hunter-gatherers on the continent. The Hadzabe have inhabited the acacia forests and scrubland around Eyasi for over 10,000 years and visits to nearby clans can be arranged through local guides in the area.
Lake Natron: A soda lake at the base of the active Ol Donyo Lengai volcano, the area around Lake Natron is often described as having a desolate and almost lunar beauty. Walks around the lake and to the streams and waterfalls along the nearby escarpment make for a fantastic adventure off the beaten track.
Lake Nyasa: Also known as Lake Malawi, the Tanzanian side of Lake Nyasa borders the Livingstone Mountains and stretches out towards Malawi and Mozambique. The towns of Kyela, Itungi, and Matema make good bases from which to visit the lake, which contains almost a third of the known cichlids – a species of freshwater tropical fish – in the world.
Lake Tanganyika: Travel to Lake Tanganyika is mostly centred around visiting Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains National Parks. The lake’s dark waters form the word’s largest and second-deepest freshwater lake, and the area is a regional centre for building dhow fishing boats that sail through its rugged waters.
Lake Victoria: By far the largest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria’s fishing industries and the agricultural land around its shores have made the area an economic centre of Tanzania. Although fishing is a traditional mainstay of the region, coffee and cotton production are increasing the economic importance of the area, especially in Mwanza. Telecommunications and transportation is also a growing industry and has encouraged growth in the region that has makde it one of the most populated in the country. Trade with neighbouring Uganda to the east and Kenya to the north means that the ports on Lake Victoria are bustling with growth and economic activity.
For visitors, attractions include trips to Rubondo Island National Park and participating in various cultural tourism programmes on offer around the area. The lake has some spectacular varieties of freshwater tropical fish, many of which are exported to aquariums all over the world. It’s shores are peaceful and pristine, and offer a quiet alternative to the constant movement and bustle of a safari itinerary.
Gently sloping hills lead to the soft blue waters of the lake, as fish eagles swoop at dawn and evening time eager for the small fish that swim in Victoria’s rich waters. Bird-watching and fishing trips make popular excursions, and boating trips and hikes can be arranged.
Other National Parks
Kitulo: Kitulo, which has recently become a fully protected National Park, is situated on the Kitulo Plateau, which forms part of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands. It is understood that the area, which is known locally as the “Garden of God,” provides a home for a wide variety of wildflowers such as balsams, bellflowers, honey-peas, irises, lilies and orchids.
Rubondo Island: Located on the south-west shores of Lake Victoria, Rubondo Island National Park includes Rubondo Island and several other small islands on Lake Victoria. The park boasts a rich and diverse variety of butterflies and bird life, easily viewable from the lake shore. The rare Sitatunga, an extremely endangered amphibious antelope, can sometimes be viewed escaping charging predators by hiding and camouflaging itself in the lake shore marshes.
A visit to Rubondo Island National Park offers visitors a break from game viewing in the tranquil peace of a lake shore setting. Exploring the islands within the park makes for exciting day trips. Fishing expeditions into Lake Victoria are easily arranged through the major lodges. Rubondo Island National Park is a break from the rigours of the safari circuit and a relaxing place from which to explore Lake Victoria.
Saanane Island National Park – (0.5 Sq Km): The Park is situated 2 km Southwest of Mwanza city, which lies in the gulf of Lake Victoria. Named after Mzee Saanane Chawandi who was the owner of the island and who established it as the first zoo in Tanzania in 1964. Between 1964 and 1966 the first species of animals were ferried to the island for conservation purposes.
These included buffalo, bushbuck, Dik Dik, elephant, Impala, Black rhino, Topi, Warthog, Wildebeest, Zebra and monkeys. Animals like rhinos and buffalo were caged while others were in free range. The island was given Game Reserve status in 1991. About 40 species of resident and migratory birds are common in the island.
On the list of things to do on the island include boat excursions rock hiking, picnicking, game & bird watching along the shores of Lake Victoria, walks along designated trails, canoeing along the lake in local boats (dhows) can be arranged in Mwanza town.