Kingsley Holgate shares about his latest trip, after racing to get to Lake Tanganyika in time in order to make use of Chris and Louise Horsfall’s boat to deliver reading glasses to a community on the other side of the lake.
Bushnote from Lake Tanganyika
We wake up bleary-eyed from the ‘Disco dash’ to get here. Lake Shore Lodge is surely the most beautiful place on Lake Tanganyika and what makes it extra special are the adventurous owners Chris and Louise Horsfall, who in 1998 for their honeymoon, threw their worldly belongings into an old apple-green Series 3 Landy nicknamed ‘Mr Columbus’ and left SA to head into the unknown – final destination: UK. But en route, they fell in love with Tanzania and built this hugely romantic lodge and over-landers’ campsite, which has become home-from-home for many an adventurous soul, who like ourselves continue to explore the longest and deepest freshwater lake in Africa.
We’d first met Chris and Louise on an expedition to track the length of the Great African Rift Valley from the Horn of Africa to Mozambique and I remember as if it were yesterday, a twilight dash in their boat to collect a sipful of water from the Congo side of the lake, to add to what we’d already collected from other Rift Valley rivers and lakes in the traditional Zulu calabash we were carrying across Africa. They became our humanitarian partners for the area and here we are again, about to set off in their ‘Lake Shore Wanderer’– a 15metre original hand-made dhow that Chris has fibre glassed and fitted out with a 200hp Yamaha outboard, galley, mattresses, weather-cover awning, solar lighting, safety equipment, fire extinguishers, boarding ladders and strong anchors fore and aft. She’ll make the ideal humanitarian vessel with which to take our much-needed Rite to Sight programme to remote villages up the lakeshore: an adventure that we hope will improve the quality of life for many.
Out of the Landy come the grub boxes (don’t forget the Marmite, Mrs Balls and Nandos hot sauce), first aid kit, bedrolls, tool kit, mozzie repellent, personal kit, wet weather gear and boxes of all strengths of Rite to Sight spectacles and eye testing charts. A spare outboard is lashed f’ward into the hold. The Moravian Brothers from the local mission kindly bring in two drums of boat fuel, fresh veggies, rice, maizemeal, sugar, and salt from the village of Kirandu. Chris lends us a Sat-phone: we’ll check in at 7pm each day, sleep on-board or camp on beaches, and buy fish from villagers.
And so we exchange Land Rover travel for that of a dhow: just five of us in this Rite to Sight team bound for historic Ujiji. Lots of work to do on this round trip voyage of close to 1 000Km that we guess will take 10-12 days. We nose out past Manda Island, the Kusi trade wind blowing from the south and the swell already up, into the deep blue of Lake Tanganyika. We’re immediately reminded of its enormity: longest freshwater lake in the world, deepest lake in Africa, holds 16% of the world’s available fresh water and divided between Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who’s high, foreboding Rift Valley mountains loom 50Km to the west.
Thunderclouds gather, white horses dance on the wave tops, the Wanderer’s Tanzanian flag flutters in the wind. ‘Around that headland,’ shouts Nordyk Kassian, our Swahili deckhand and interpreter, pointing to a distant finger of land, ‘Is our first Rite to Sight village. It’s called Chongo Katete – the Mwenyekiti (village Chairman) has been informed – the word’s out that we’re coming!’ The GPS shows a speed of 14 to 18 Km/hour – sometimes faster down a swell – as Captain Kapezi Selemani steers the Wanderer north, her high prow slicing through the waves. Our lake journey has begun: using adventure to improve lives – we’ll keep you posted.
Source: Kingsley Holgate Foundation