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7 Facts About Lake Tanganyika You Might Not Know

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Lake Tanganyika is one of the African Great Lakes, and is one of the most popular and largest lakes in the world. There are many interesting nuggets of information about this huge African lake, so we’ve compiled a list of seven facts about Lake Tanganyika you might not know.

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About the Author

I have travelled around Tanzania a lot and love the wilderness of the safari areas. The animals roam freely across huge swathes of land.

AFRICA SPECIALIST

Georgie

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1. LAKE TANGANYIKA IS THE SECOND LARGEST LAKE IN AFRICA

It’s also the second oldest freshwater lake in the world, the second deepest, and the second largest by volume. The only lake greater than Lake Tanganyika is Lake Baikal in Siberia. The one record it holds is being the longest freshwater lake in the world.

Lake Tanganyika stores 4,500 cubic miles of water, covering an area of 12,700 square miles. The deepest point in the lake is 4,820 feet, and it averages a depth of 1,870 feet. This great depth is due to it lying in the Great Rift Valley.

2. THE LAKE IS DIVIDED AMONG FOUR COUNTRIES

The majority of the lake is spread between Tanzania at 46% and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at 40%. The other two countries possessing the lake are Burundi and Zambia. Its waters flow into the Congo River system, ultimately ending up in the Atlantic Ocean.

3. IT WAS FOUNDED BY ENGLISH EXPLORERS

This great African lake was first brought to the world’s attention in the mid 1800s by two English explorers named Richard Burton and John Speke. Their exploration was in pursuit of the source of the River Nile, arriving at the shores of Lake Tanganyika in February 1858. They eventually discovered that the Ruzizi River in the north, which they thought at the time to be the Nile, flowed into and not out of the lake. Their fascinating journey has been documented in the movie Mountains of the Moon.

4. BATTLES TOOK PLACE ON THE LAKE DURING WORLD WAR I

During World War I, several naval engagements were made between the British and Germans on the lake. The intention was to secure control of Lake Tanganyika, as it offered strategic importance. German units had dominated it since the start of the war.

5. IT BOASTS VISIBILITIES OF UP TO 20 METRES

The lake is extremely clear, allowing you to see beneath the surface up to 20 metres. You can see massive boulders, spectacular drop-offs, and a shell-covered bottom.

6. THE TEMPERATURE OF THE LAKE IS UNIFORM

Somewhat remarkably, the temperature of Lake Tanganyika is uniform with the lower regions of the lake only a mere 3°C colder than the surface. It has yet to be discovered how this strange phenomenon works.

7. THE LAKE HOSTS MORE THAN 350 DIFFERENT SPECIES OF FISH

Most of the fish (around 95%) are endemic. Just like Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika is extremely old, which, when combined with its ecological isolation, has led to the evolution of large numbers of unique fish over the years. New species are continually being discovered in this remarkable lake. Along with Lake Malawi, it’s regarded as being one of the top two lakes in the world in terms of biodiversity.

To book your trip to see Lake Tanganyika, get in touch with us today and we’ll help you plan your perfect African adventure including a visit to the amazing Lake Tanganyika.

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