Lake Ngosi

Quick facts:

Region: Mbeya

Access: By foot

Attractions: Crater lake, nature

Activities: Hiking, nature trail

Accommodation: Available nearby

Best time to visit: All year round

Lake Ngosi is 2.5 km long, 1.5 km wide, and about 75 m deep. It is the second-largest crater lake in Africa, just after Lake Wench in Ethiopia

Part of the Uporoto mountains, Lake Ngosi is located in a dense forest that encompasses around 9,332 hectares at 2,600 meters above sea level on the Ngosi peak. The lake is 2.5 kilometers long, 1.5 kilometers wide, and about 75 meters deep. It is the second-largest crater lake in Africa, just after Lake Wench in Ethiopia

The lake got its name from the Safwa word “Ligosi” which means  “Big One.” The history of the formation of the lake has the scientific version and the local version. Scientifically, Lake Ngosi is believed to have been created about 12,000 years ago in a Plinian eruption. However, the locals have their own versions of the story:

According to the Nyakyusa, an ethnic tribe in Mbeya, a sharman by the name of Lwembe was driven from his native town of Ukwama after the locals became tired of his cunning deception. He is alleged to have run off to a location close to the water. Every time they grazed close, cows started to vanish; people also started going missing. The Nyakyusa elders made the decision to cast their own magic spells as they heated a large rock in a fire for three days before rolling it into the lake to drive away the devil. After that, the threat vanished.

Other legends claim that German soldiers from the colonial era deposited a sizable amount of loot into the lake’s waters and cast a spell to secure the gold and thwart anyone else’s attempts to retrieve it. Some claim that this also involves the release of toxic gasses, although scientifically these gasses may be related to volcanic activity. In other versions of this folklore, the treasure is guarded by a 12-headed serpent that emerges from the ground on sunny days. It’s however unclear whether there has ever been a treasure.

Part of the Uporoto mountains, Lake Ngosi is located in a dense forest that encompasses around 9,332 hectares at 2,600 meters above sea level on the Ngosi peak. The lake is 2.5 kilometers long, 1.5 kilometers wide, and about 75 meters deep. It is the second-largest crater lake in Africa, just after Lake Wench in Ethiopia

The lake got its name from the Safwa word “Ligosi” which means  “Big One.” The history of the formation of the lake has the scientific version and the local version. Scientifically, Lake Ngosi is believed to have been created about 12,000 years ago in a Plinian eruption. However, the locals have their own versions of the story:

According to the Nyakyusa, an ethnic tribe in Mbeya, a sharman by the name of Lwembe was driven from his native town of Ukwama after the locals became tired of his cunning deception.

He is alleged to have run off to a location close to the water. Every time they grazed close, cows started to vanish; people also started going missing. The Nyakyusa elders made the decision to cast their own magic spells as they heated a large rock in a fire for three days before rolling it into the lake to drive away the devil. After that, the threat vanished

Other legends claim that German soldiers from the colonial era deposited a sizable amount of loot into the lake’s waters and cast a spell to secure the gold and thwart anyone else’s attempts to retrieve it. Some claim that this also involves the release of toxic gasses, although scientifically these gasses may be related to volcanic activity. In other versions of this folklore, the treasure is guarded by a 12-headed serpent that emerges from the ground on sunny days. It’s however unclear whether there has ever been a treasure

The lake got its name from the Safwa word “Ligosi” which means  “Big One.” The history of the formation of the lake has the scientific version and the local version

Interesting facts about Lake Ngosi

  • It is the second-largest crater lake in Africa, after Lake Wench in Ethiopia
  • The lake has a near-perfect shape of the African continent making it a unique view when the sky is clear
  • Before the management of the lake moved to Tanzania Forestry Service, the lake was under the supervision of two Safwa clans, Chief Mlotwa Mwalingo and Chief Mlotwa Mwalupindi
  • The levels of the waters are hardly noticeable in spite of going down during the dry season and increasing after the rainy seasons
  • The lake is 2.5 kilometers long, 1.5 kilometers wide, and about 75 meters deep
  • Home to some of beautiful species such as the chameleons and colobus monkeys, as well as lust green vegetation

Getting to Lake Ngosi

Lake Ngosi is found about 35 km from Mbeya town. To get there, one needs a car, preferably a 4×4 due to the nature of the road. To be able to see the stunning view of the lake you’ll need to hike to the top of the crater to see the lake in a clear sky. The 1-2 hours hike is moderate to tough depending on the weather and how used you are to hiking. The views are also stunning on the sides as you walk down through the crater. I would recommend using proper hiking shoes during the hike since the trails can be muddy in the rainy season. On the way, the guide will share with you some stories about the lake and show you some natural herbs and plants (we were given water from a certain plant)

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