While Tanzania is known for its unforgettable safaris, its magnificent animals and its towering Mount Kilimanjaro, its underwater enchantments are no less fascinating. Did you know that Tanzania also offers popular diving spots? An unusual experience is Lake Tanganyika. This is the world’s longest lake, a whopping 660km in length. It is also the second deepest at a depth of 1436 metres. You’ll find the lake on the border between Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, and Congo.
One of the key factors of Lake Tanganyika is that it’s considered one of the purest freshwater lakes in the world. Heavy rains can make the water cloudy but if you were to travel between November and April, underwater visibility is excellent. May, June, and October are also good months to see deep into the lake.
The main fish in the Lake is the Cichlid. They are endemic to the lake and 98% of the 250 living varieties live here. These fish are 200 years old or more and their colours will dazzle you. Look out for the biggest fish in the species, the Yellowbelly. The Zebra Fish is also a favourite because of its striking stripes and fascinating shape. You’ll need to get to a depth of over 15 meters to see this one. It’s worth the swim for sure.
Head to the archipelago of Zanzibar about 50 kilometres from the Tanzanian coast to explore diving in sublime conditions. To the South of Zanzibar, especially Mafia and other sites offer great experiences too. While Zanzibar is well known around the world, the island of Pemba is no less enthralling. To go diving, head to the Mnemba Atoll Marine Park.
Mafia is to the south of Zanzibar and the first Marine Park of Tanzania came up here and it’s a triumph of conservation and passionate protection of aqua life. There’s a lot to do in Mafia including the opportunities to swim with whale sharks from November to February and humpback whales from August to October. Almost all Mafia’s best diving is at depths of less than 30m so the sport diver’s trip is easily made here!
The reefs, flora, and fauna are the main reason for the Marine Park. It is in their colour, their fabulous condition and the sheer variety of coral reef that prompted the making of the Mafia Island Marine Park. Whether its soft corals, exposed fringing reefs, soft corals, algae-dominated reefs and rock walls- you’ll find it all here. Apart from the 50 types of corals, there are also 460 species of fish one can find here. The Park is by far the best place to find whip corals, the utterly delicate sea fans, giant table corals, and huge numbers of blue-tipped staghorn corals. Turtles are present here as are predatory fish, though they are largely mild-mannered.
The southeast of Zanzibar has many uncharted gems for the diving world. The coast drops to almost 200 m, like the ground shifting beneath your feet. There are enormous rock monoliths to keep things interesting too. It’s an area that a diver will do well to explore.