Lake Duluti – a paradise for birds and reptiles
Just a 20-minute drive away from Arusha, in the shadow of Mount Meru lays a crater lake. The Wameru tribe of the area named it Duluti. Lake Duluti is formed inside a volcanic crater and has water throughout the year, mainly from groundwater and seasonal rainfall. The crater is a subsidiary vent to Mount Meru (4566m) that towers over the lake.
The depth of the lake is unconfirmed, but locals estimate it at around 700m deep. The water from the lake is used in the surrounding areas and rumour has it that the city of Arusha was planning to utilise the water from the lake to supply the whole city.
Lake Duluti is about 1100m across and covers an area of 63ha. The walls of the crater – up to 200m high – are mostly covered in a thick forest. These thick forests are home to many reptiles as it provides a suitable environment for hunting and nesting. In fact, on a recent visit to the crater, we were rewarded with a sighting of an eastern green mamba, who unfortunately did not hang around long enough for a photo. Monitor lizards, some of which can be as big as 2m, can be seen basking on old broken trees.
The lake itself also provides the perfect habitat for water birds and Duluti is claimed to have up to 130 different species. The most common birds that can be seen include grey herons, fish eagles, cormorants, ospreys, egrets and kingfishers.
The lake has abundant fish proven by many groups of cormorants that hang out together to fish. Many locals come to the lake at night to fish, which of course is making competition for food among the wild animals harder. You need a permit to fish…
Visitors to Lake Duluti can go canoeing to explore the lake for a different perspective. This is a great way to explore the marsh areas of the lake. Here, huge papyrus plants are a noisy, colourful nesting ground for many of the birds. Usually a canoe trip around the lake takes around 2-3 hours.
If walking is your thing, then the hike around the crater is a ‘must’. A small path leads through the forest that provides enough shade that you can do the walk even in the hottest time of the day. Every now and then, there is a ‘window’ from where hikers can admire birds as well the breath-taking views of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. Hikers are accompanied by a ranger from the Duluti forest reserve and the hike around the lake can take up to 2 hours.
A day excursion to Lake Duluti from Arusha can be day filled with activity and wonder.