Lake Tang for New Year’s

Reading this week:

  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (it’s phenomenal)
  • The End of Poverty by Jeffrey D. Sachs

For New Year’s, Lily and I went to go visit Lake Tanganyika. We stayed at Luke’s Beach, which is the go-to for Peace Corps Volunteers because it’s the cheapest. It is a very nice facility, but you have to bring in all your own food and charcoal and stuff, hence the low price. We decided to camp, although they have chalets.

Lake Tang this time of year is very nice. It’s rainy season, so you do get the occasional rain storm, but besides that it is sunny and warm and there are palm trees and it’s very quiet and relaxing. So that’s nice. The coolest part of our visit though was that while we were waiting on the water taxi to take us there, a woman walked over and introduced herself to us as Hope. Hope is the current manager of the Kalambo Falls Lodge, which somewhat confusingly is on the lakefront. I didn’t even know the place existed, but Hope invited us over to visit the next day and hang out.

So the next day we made the relatively short hike from Luke’s Beach over to Kalambo Fall’s Lodge and man that place is nice. They have a whole chunk of the shoreline with piers going out into the lake that look like a lovely spot for a cocktail. They are expanding and have chalets and full-board service. Hope, who’s business card reads “Manageress,” is very nice and enthusiastic about the lodge. When we walked over she served us up tea and then took us on a tour of the place.

The lodge was originally founded as a fish breeding center. The guy who originally built the place would breed and sell the cichlids from Lake Tang to the exotic fish market. In more recent years, the lodge has opened, and its major clientele are actually different research institutes who come in and use the lodge’s unique facilities to study the lake’s ecosystems. Their star attraction is Sir Percy, who they believe to be the only Golden Nile Perch in captivity. The suckers are apparently fairly rare, and can’t usually be captured alive. Sir Percy is 30 years old and in good health, and could apparently live to be about 60. Hope was kind enough to toss him a fish for us to watch him eat it, and the guy is faster than he looks.

After an afternoon hanging out at the lodge, we head back to our tent, passing through a fishing village on the way. Lily wasn’t feeling well, but I stopped anyways to get a picture of a boat being built on the waterfront. There are two standard designs for boats on this end of the lake, including a small canoe and a larger boat, pictured above halfway finished. I didn’t get a chance to ask many questions, but the fact that all these boats are built by artisans all around the shores of the lake is pretty cool. They’re sturdy vessels and last a good chunk of time.