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#OneTouchLive – Road trip to Lake Chala (TZ side) | Mutua Matheka

#OneTouchLive – Road trip to Lake Chala (TZ side)

Hey guys. I hope you’re having an alright week. Let’s talk about that time I took a road trip to Lake Chala with Onetouch.

It’s my fourth time visiting and swimming in this lake. Twice to the Tanzanian side. I love going back to places i’ve been to before. It gives me a reason to try see something different. Something I haven’t seen before. This time, I captured most of it on video but I managed to steal a few photos in between filming. You can watch my Lake Chala film below.

We decided to take a different route this time, cross the border at Oloitoktok instead of Namanga. We saved a lot of time by doing this since the Namanga border is very busy and the road from Arusha to Moshi too. The speed limits on the roads in Tanzania make it a bit of a nightmare to drive there. Also, the cops have a thing for Kenyan drivers (or Kenyan plate cars). We are bound to be stopped at any given opportunity for any given reason. Some valid, most not.


Allan & Joe





Shot these on my phone at a fuel stop on the way. Portraits of some of the road trippers.

We had breakfast at Emali and did some grocery shopping for the food we were going to eat. Machakos oranges are the truth (Don’t argue with me here). Soon we were on the road past Kimani heading to the border. The border crossing took us about 2hrs until they cleared the cars. I still don’t know why it takes this long but it just does. Word of advice; Try avoid the brokers who will promise you heaven to help you finish up the paper work faster. It takes just as long if you do it yourself. And it’s cheaper.

We were soon driving in Tanzania when the view of the glorious Mt. Kilimanjaro stopped us. We had no choice in this matter. When the views are dope, we stop. It must suck for people that travel with us without being photographers. We got to the campsite at Lake Chala later in the evening and set up camp for the night. And what a night that was. Our tents were tested by rain for a few hours. It was my first time experiencing rain while camping. I’m happy to say my tent held up to the rain without any water getting in. Some of us weren’t so lucky. Some people woke up to find themselves floating in a  tented sea.

Makeni. Faces of disbelief (is that disbelief or shock?) by the camp fire.

Photo reviews over the camp fire.

There are many rumours about Lake Chala. Some say that if you swim to the centre of the lake, you will be pulled down by forces and be sucked in a tunnel that comes back out in the nearby Lake Jipe. Some say there are crocodiles that eat people in the lake. All i know is that Lake Chala is one of the best dufo I have had in a while. The water is dark and cool and admittedly, can look scary. Once you get in though, the feeling disappears and the memories of doof mpararo (swimming in rivers and going back home with ashy skin because, no lotion) when we were kids come flooding back. We spent a whole afternoon swimming and shooting here.

Sunrise over the lake. The other side of this lake in this photo is Kenya. The lake is shared between Kenya and Tanzania.



That night, we were informed about these hot springs (that turned out to be warm at best) near Moshi and decided to check them out and go back home via Namanga. Best decision ever. Kikuletwa hot springs ended up being the highlight of the whole trip and a great reason to get back home almost in the morning. The hot springs are fed from under the ground and feed Lake Chala and Lake Jipe. With a swinging rope and tiny fish that nibble at dead skin, this ended up being a lot of fun for the whole afternoon.

No, I wasn’t karate chopin anyone under the water.

We left as the sun was about to set to head to Namanga when the setting sun derailed us at this railway. It’s rare that you find the sun setting right in alignment with a railway and when it happens, shoot. Shoot. Shoot. On the other side 180 degrees apart, Mt. Kilimanjaro was in full view. Her peak seemingly floating on the clouds. It was so confusing to try focus on what to shoot when magic was happening on both sides. The sunset and the Mountain. I’ll just let the photos maybe show you the state of confusion I was in.

One one side, this.

On the other side, this.

Ended up shooting a few shots of the sunset, then a few of Kili, then sunset, then Kili. I think you get it.

After the sun set and let us free of her clutches, we started back for home. It took us about 3 hours to drive the 40 or so kilometres to Arusha. Tanzanian roads are a mess. When you don’t have to drive at 50kph, you’re in traffic. But it’s worse between Moshi and Arusha, where we were. We were finally at the border at around midnight and immediately went looking for dinner first. Chips mayai is a Tanzanian street delicacy that I highly recommend for grease lovers.

You can download the Lake Chala Wallpaper here if you’re interested in that.

Some lessons;

When camping in potential rain situations, set up your tent in full. Fly sheet and all. Set it up well and you will be ok. Also buy a good tent. They last for years and if you’re buying a tent anyway, it means you’ve decided to take camping seriously.

Driving in Tanzanian roads is faster and better at night than during the day. Do with this info whatever you want.

The Oloitoktok border is much better than the Namanga one.

When a lake presents itself, always swim. If it’s swimmable. Also, always carry your swim suit while road tripping. You never know.

Or just watch my Guide to Roadtripping above. Take it with a pinch (or more) of salt.

That’s it for today folks. I hope you have a great week ahead. I plan to. Be well and God bless ya’ll.





  • Thuku D Maina

    Wow!! i see it was a great outdoor experience. how an i reach you Mr mutua?? i would love to get more details on this