A crater lake in a caldera at the border between Tanzania and Kenya and 52 km from Moshi town, Lake Chala was measured at a depth of 95 meters, which makes it deeper than famous Lake Victoria. Filled and drained by underground waters, the lake ranges in color from deep blue green – at the moment more green because of a lot of algae. Take a walk down the 100m deep crater rim to the lake shore and cool your feet at the water’s edge among the rocks as you watch the water ripple peacefully through the lake in shimmering delight.
What to do in Lake Chala
Day Visiting: 8 USD a day for tourists (guided walk 7 USD) / 5.000 TZS for citizen and residents (guided walk 10,000 TZS) includes village fee, levies and taxes and use of all facilities. Kayaking is 20,000 TSH for day guests for one hour.
Climate: Chala has a temperate but varied climate. It can be very hot in the day time, especially in December to March, but evenings and mornings are cool and nights can be chilly. From May to September it can be quite cold, warm clothes are needed in the early morning and evening.
What to bring: We do advise good walking shoes, and maybe a stick to go down to the lake. It is a steep ascent. Bring binoculars for birding, sunscreen, hat, appropriate clothes for temperature changes, check ‘Taveta weather reports’. If you want to have a cold refreshing shower after the hike, please bring a towel.
Walking: Chala is a wonderful area in which to walk. All walks have to be accompanied by a staff Member of Lake Chala Safari Lodge.
Birding: The Chala bird survey is ongoing. Birds are plentiful and raptors in particular are many and spectacular in the area. Chala is thought to be an important migration corridor on the eastern flank of Kilimanjaro, and unexpected birds can be found here during migration time. We appreciate reports of birds seen by visitors to increase our bird survey.
Fish: The lake is home to the Lake Chala Tilapia, a species of fish in the cichlidae family. This fish is endemic to Chala, but is now a threatened species due to over fishing, a concern which needs to be adressed. That’s why fishing is not allowed at Lake Chala.
Crocodiles: Crocodiles were introduced to Lake Chala in the 1930’s. According to legend they were brought in by E.S. Grogan, a British explorer who became famous for walking from Cape Town to Cairo in 1898. The terrain is totally unsuitable for crocodiles to breed, there being no beaches or sandy areas to make their nests. In the early 1990s fishermen, angry that their nets were continually being destroyed, began a program to eradicate them. Since 2002 there are no longer any crocodiles left in Lake Chala.
There are number of beautiful walks around Chala; as always in Africa the best walking is in the early morning or late afternoon.
The Chala Hill Walk is best done in the early morning. Well worth the climb, this is an incredibly scenic walk with breath taking 360% views across the lake to Kenya, to Lake Jipe, Kilimanjaro and over most of the hundreds of hectares of Chala land. There is no chance to walk around the lake because of border restrictions.
The Canyon Walk is an extension of the Chala Hill Walk, brings you to the Kenyan border, down through the Savana and along the (mostly) dry river bed with an amazing canyon and wonderful carved rocks. Great views can also be had on this walk across the bush to the foothills of Kilimanjaro and of the mighty mountain itself.
The Lake Walk, a steep descent, good trekking shoes and stick are advised.
Plants and Trees of Chala
From lush lake shore forest, to stunning volcanic savanna, Chala is immensly rich in flora. A vast array of trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses, including rare plants, some endemic to Chala, adorn the landscape. The variety is astounding and beautiful in this harsh environment.
Flowers: Throughout the year an assortment of beautiful and delicate flowers are to be found at Chala.
Flowering Shrubs: Flowering shrubs too show off their beauty, with a range of flowers and berries.
Trees: Trees are also varied and fascinating in their range of species.
Grasses: From August until October grasses are spectacular at Chala and beautiful in the evening sun.