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Lake Chala is found in the south-eastern side of Mount Kilimanjaro around 55 kilometers from Moshi town, close to the Kenyan border. It is a water-filled caldera that was formed after volcanic activity (probably from Mount Kilimanjaro) caused it to collapse. The crater itself is 3km in length and 2.4km wide, with a surface area of about 4.2km². The depth of the lake is between 70 to 90m with the walls almost vertical and as high as a 100m in some places.
Depending on the time of year the colour of the water changes from deep blue to turquoise and green. It is said that the lake is filled by underground streams from Mount Kilimanjaro and drains again into neighbouring Lake Jipe also via underground tunnels. The critically endangered Lake Chala Tilapia (which actually belongs to the cichlid family) is found only in Lake Chala.
In the early 1900’s crocodiles were introduced to the lake. However, over the years local fishermen have killed them and it is highly likely that none exist there today.
Local fishermen can be seen in their dugouts drifting silently along, they come to fish there almost daily.
Lake Chala and the surrounding area is spectacularly interesting, not just because of Mount Kilimanjaro that can be seen on clear days towering in the background but also because it thrives with life. Walking around you can spot plenty of birds and small mammals such as blue monkeys, colobus monkeys, baboons, dik-dik and kudu. Being so close to Tsavo National Park you might be able to see large herds of elephants that migrate back and forth between Kenya and Tanzania.
Probably a must-do when at Lake Chala is to go on a walk down the steep crater walls to the water. The walk is very scenic with great views of the lake and vegetation. Swimming is possible but it is advised to stay close to the shore.
Another interesting walk is the river bed tour. There is a seasonal river nearby where the water has eroded the walls into beautiful shapes.
You will be picked up after breakfast and make the drive to Lake Chala on the south-eastern flank of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Your day of adventure starts with a guided hike through the lush forest that surrounds this Crater Lake. Along the way, you will have the chance to spot playful primates and a variety of other animal and bird-life.
After soaking in the view from the crater rim, you will descend to the water’s edge where you can choose to take a dip, enjoy a canoe safari, or simply take out a good book and read in the serenity.
After a picnic lunch, you will make your way back to your hotel.
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