Our Kala Bay cruise and walk is our most popular activity into Nsumbu National Park. This is because its great for animal sightings, namely elephants, hippos, warthogs, antelopes and various birds, as well as the gorgeous landscapes and calm reflective waters in the bay. This is always done late afternoon so that visitors can view animals when they are more active and to enjoy the liquid blue and pink metal sunset as we travel home.
It is where you will find the huge rippling sand dunes that tower over the bay which are great to climb to the top as you will get fantastic views of both sides of the bay. Here the peninsula is at its thinnest so you can see the lake at both sides of the dune. You can also easily see the tracks of all different types of animals that have passed through the sandy corridor throughout the last few hours, the wide printed ovals of elephants, the double prongs of the puku, bush bucks and tiny blue duikers as well as cats such as civets, jennets and the odd leopard.
We start off from Ndole Bay Lodge at 2:30pm with our guide, it takes about 45 minutes to reach Kala Bay and there is plenty to see along the way.
About half way we slow down to see the temporary fishing village beach which is open for 3 months of the year to local fishermen. Its currently closed now. Here is also a spot where we regularly see elephant and are not dissapointed today as we see a lone male through the trees.
This is also the scared site of the Bembas called the Balancing Stones. There are guided walks to this site on a separate trip if this interests you. Each year at the opening of the temporary fishing village the local chief – Teleka officiates a ceremony to bless the season with a bountiful catch and a witch doctor, all dressed in white, goes up to the sacred stones and kills a white chicken to appease the lake gods.
We then speed onto Kala Bay to do a bit of fishing (if time permits) and cruising along the shore. The bay is protected from winds so the water is calm and mirror like. As we get deeper into the bay the shore turns to golden beaches and green grassy flat lands, dotted with hippos snorting, Puku whistling, warthog digging and the odd crocodile sunning himself on the bank.
This is the site of the old Kasaba Bay Lodge. The old buildings still stand around the jetty area where we park. Once a busy lodge back in the 80’s, its been abandoned for over 15 years now and is slowly falling apart. In the heart of the bay is the big sand dune so we get out and start to walk to the top. From this vantage point we can see the wide long sandy beach on the other side of the peninsula, its stunning to do a 360 degree turn and take it all in.
We hear elephants close by so we walk carefully and quietly and see them one of by, emerging from the Itigi thickets into Kala Bay for their late afternoon drink and play.
It’s a large herd of about 30 elephants, bulls, females and babies in tow. We suspect we see the mother with 2 young twins we had heard about, which is quite rare.
We climb back down and get back into the boat so we can cruise closer up to the herd which seems unbothered by our presence. Two bulls have a small wrestle in front of us and the babies spray themselves with water. A happy family scene.
After watching them for some time, its time to start heading back, but before we do the guide whistles out to a waiting Fish Eagle. He whistles loudly then tosses a small fish into the lake beside the boat, the eagle then flew down and snatched up the fish right in front of us. Almost as if it was trained to do so.
We all then sit down, some on the front of the boat and speed back to Ndole Bay Lodge as the sun sets in front of us, dropping lazily behind the mountain ranges. The sky and water turn into liquid metal and the colours are spectacular. What a way to end a perfect day out on Lake Tanganyika.
We were lucky to see so many animals in one day, especially as its rainy season but its definitely worth the trip for the stunning scenery alone.