Lake Jipe at the border of Kenya and Tanzania

Lake Jipe – Wildlife, How to Get There & More

Lake Jipe is a small, shallow lake that spans the territories of Kenya and Tanzania. It is located south of Nghonji village in Kenya and within the Mwanga district in Kilimanjaro Region in Tanzania. The lake borders Tsavo West National Park to the southern portion, and Mount Kilimanjaro overlooks the horizon some distance to the northwest.


About Lake Jipe

Lake Jipe is about 19 Km long and around 4.8-6.4 Km wide and occupies a surface area of approximately 30 sq. Km with an average depth of fewer than 3 meters 14 sq. Km of the lake belongs to Kenya and 12 sq. km to Tanzania. The lake’s main inflow is the Lumi River, which descends from Mount Kilimanjaro and passes through Kenya. The other major inflow is through Muvulani from the Pare Mountains. The lake’s only outlet forms the Ruvu River, which lies in Tanzania, south of Lumi River. The inter-terrestrial lake is a shallow backwater of Lumi River, which then becomes Ruvu River, and joins the Nyumba ya Mungu Reservoir. After entering the Kikuletwa, the stream flows as Pangani River in the Indian Ocean at Pangani.

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Lake Jipe Panorama
Lake Jipe Panorama | Photo By Peter Steward

Lake Jipe lacks a current river that flows in, turns around, and flows out again. Its water is only drinkable after it has been well boiled and skimmed. On its southern bank, the mountains of Ugweno rise 1,800 to 2,100 m, contrasting noticeably with the opposite shore, a flat plain, but little raised above the lake. Kibo peak of Mount Kilimanjaro is spottable from the lake.


Wildlife at Lake Jipe

As for wildlife, Lake Jipe homes an abundance of crocodiles, hippos, and a small herd of zebras. The lake is known for its endemic fish (Jipe Tilapia), and its waters swarms with big fish, mainly cyprinoids and siluroids. The lake’s reedy shores are frequent with water birds, including egrets, storks, pelicans, ducks, spur-winged plovers, and Egyptian geese. The purple gallinule and lesser jacana are common on the lake despite being rare in other parts of Africa. Madagascar squacco heron, black heron, African darter, and African skimmers are often seen.

African Elephants at Lake Jipe
African Elephants at Lake Jipe | Photo By Peter Steward

Other mammals and wetland plants can be seen on the lake-edge swamps, which extend up to 2 kilometers from Jipe’s shores. Inhabitants of a few tiny villages to the northern end of Jipe make a living from fishing, agriculture, and animal husbandry.

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How to get to Lake Jipe

Lake Jipe, Kenya
Lake Jipe, Kenya | Photo By Mwangi Kirubi

Lake Jipe is accessible through the B1 Highway from the village of Kifaru, about 40 kilometers south of the Tanzanian town of Moshi.

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