Back in June the good people at  Heritage Hotels & Uniglobe Northline travel decided to take us(, and on a trip to the Voyager Ziwani in the Tsavo. I did a review on our trip in an earlier post and I remembered being asked to look into where L. Chala got it waters from. I hope you guys have this place in your bucket list because it was a spectacular place to visit I hope you all get to how much beauty this country has to offer.

Lake Chala - photo by Mutua Matheka
Lake Chala – photo by Mutua Matheka

You see L. Chala is a Caldera lake and we didn’t see an inlet or an outlet for water. So the only natural explanation was it was fed from underground. But here is the rest of the history…..

Lake Chala, an ancient caldera lake, lies some 30km to the south-east of Kilimanjaro, and is said to be over 2.5 miles deep at it’s deepest point. It is believed to be the caldera of the first volcanic eruption some three-quarters of a million years ago. Lake Chala is the remnant of a mountain destroyed in an eruption at that time. The vast eruptions that caused the Great Rift a giant fault in the earth’s crust that runs through East Africa, was the cause of what is now the Kilimanjaro massif. With molten lava bursting through the fractured surface of the land, the huge pressures behind this eruption pushed part of the Earth’s crust skywards, creating the Shira volcano, the oldest of the volcanoes forming the Kilimanjaro massif. Soon after Shira’s extinction, Mawenzi started to form following a further eruption within the Shira caldera. Mawenzi has kept some of its volcanic shape to this day. A further huge eruption 100,000 years later led to the formation of Kilimanjaro’s characteristic shiny black stone, This spilled over from Kibo’s crater into the Shira caldera forming the so-called ‘Saddle’. 

Later eruptions created a series of distinctive mini-cones, or parasitic craters that run in a chain south-east and north–west across the mountain, as seen in the area around Chala. Lake Chala, is fed entirely by underground streams from Kilimanjaro, hence the normally clear waters. Chala in turn feeds the waters of Lake Jipe, some 30 kms distant as the crow flies, through more underground systems. Water levels have been dropping over the last few years, and there is concern that one of the caves in the system may have collapsed, or maybe the waters from Kilimanjaro no longer soak down so strongly with the melting of the glaciers.


You can see more pictures from lake Chala at  and