My IG handle is @gracawangu and in social circles I am known as an outdoor and adrenaline junkie, a hiker, a mountain climber, a traveler and an amateur photographer. Over the years, I have taken countless trips to hills, mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, parks, reserves, cities and towns within and beyond Kenya borders.
It was that time of the year again! Easter was around the corner, a much welcomed break from the hassle and bustle of Nairobi. After scanning through Easter Holiday trips on offer from tours and travel agencies, I settled on an ‘Ultimate Road Trip to the Pearl of Africa-Jibambie Uganda this Easter’ hosted by Adventure 360 Africa. But as fate would have it, I turned up for a different trip dubbed ‘Easter Break Chyulu Hills/Tsavo West/Lake Jipe and Chala Expedition’ organized by Bucket List Travels Club. My only point of interest being Lake Jipe and Lake Chala, having been to Chyulu Hills and Tsavo West in the past.
At every glance on the internet, images of Lake Chala strikingly deep blue waters spoke to my heart and spirit. I had to go. We set out on Good Friday. We slowly made our way out of the city into Machakos County. It was an easy drive, the highway was smooth and even, surrounded by hills and huge rocks. Besides it, was the ongoing construction of the Standard Gauge Railway line that aims to connect Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. At around mid-day we set foot at Chyulu Hills National Park, home to panoramic green hills and the second longest cave in the world with a length of 12.5 kilometers.
We combed the caves for the rest of the afternoon and set camp in the evening. Early Saturday morning, we set off on a hike up the hills to its highest peak of 2,188 meters above sea level. The landscape views from the base to the peak were spectacular! By evening, we had driven into Tsavo West National Park, our home for the next two nights. The following day was spent exploring the Mzima Springs, Shetani Lava Flows and Lake Jipe that is abundant in fish, birds, hippos, crocodiles, zebras and elephants.
On Easter Monday, we woke up on the shores of Lake Jipe getting ready for an exciting journey back to Nairobi via a stopover at Lake Chala. As I dressed up, thoughts of putting on my swimming gear underneath my outfit or carrying it with me hoping to steal a swim in the lake crossed my mind. Eventually, I packed it away after Bucket List Travels Club indicated that time would not allow. After about two hours on the 4×4 overland truck, we arrived within the vicinity of the lake. Passers-by would not know that the lake exists as it is completely hidden and invisible from the road. We disembarked and began to trek towards the lake. It is a short but steep and slippery trek. Finally, we caught a glimpse of the lake and I began clicking the camera away at this picturesque lake.
Since we set out, I had not seen anything so majestic! Lake Chala is scenic, serene and breathtaking. The view is magical! It is a hidden gem with stunning beauty-lush trees, flora and rocks; just perfect for a swim on a hot sunny Monday afternoon. As I sat on the lake shore, I thought I wouldn’t have adequate time to dry off in the sun before getting back into the truck, but the deep blue green waters were beseeching me to get in. Camera aside, hat, shoes and socks off, I dived into the cool waters amidst cheers and swam away. Within minutes, I could hear displacement of water as others dived in to have a taste and feel of the water.
Lake Chala is a crater lake. The crystal clear fresh water lake runs across the border of Kenya and Tanzania to the North of Taveta and South East of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Its water changes colour from deep blue to turquoise to green depending on the time and day of the year. Lake Chala is fed entirely by underground water from Mt. Kilimanjaro, and in turn feeds Lake Jipe located 30 kilometers away within Taita Taveta County. Just like Lake Chala, Lake Jipe stands between the borders of Kenya and Tanzania fed mainly by the Lumi River from Mount Kilimanjaro.
I recommend Lake Chala and Lake Jipe as perfect getaways to visit with friends and families.