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The camp
Cape Mpimbwe Establishment, also called Lakesite Tanganyika, is the authors' (Magnus Karlsson and Mikael Karlsson) camp, located at the lake in Western Tanzania, just over 500 m south of the small village of Udachi and 2 km south of the larger Kabwe village. The facilities were established in the late eighties on virgin land and are presently used as a base for fish survey expeditions on the lake (previously used as a holding station for aquarium fish). The fenced camp area includes a small area (approx. 6 hectares) of indigenous woodland that has been protected for almost three decades. The area exhibits today the only remaining wooded area in the immediate surroundings. In the woodland within the camp area live many different species of small birds, and larger animals, like the Vervet monkey, can be seen on occasion. At the heart of the camp is a small harbour with a 60 m long stone pier that protects the survey boats from heavy waves. The camp area also includes land for a small airstrip (a fully 1 km long), directly adjacent to the main buildings. Located in a small bay, which in turn is part of the larger Utinta Bay, the facilities obtain double protection from the open lake.
Inside view of camp
The peninsula nearby
In the camp's immediate vicinity (7,5 km) lies Cape Mpimbwe, which is a small peninsula with a total coastline of about 15 km. The cape is located at one of the lake's deep basins, and the lake's greatest depth, Alexandre Delcommune's depth (1'470 m), is only about 40 km to the southwest. Cape Mpimbwe offers one of Lake Tanganyika's best snorkelling/scuba diving and fish watching. An extraordinary large variety of fish is found at the peninsula (over 100 species of cichlids with numerous endemic colour varieties). Several southern species meet northern species at this spot. The location is also suitable for day trips from the camp with picnics to enjoy the beautiful and serene surroundings of rocky shores interspersed with bays with sand beaches and crystal-clear water. When V. L. Cameron reached the peninsula, in April 1874, on his famous journey along Lake Tanganyika he made the following comment: "Ras [Cape] Mpimbwe, a promontory formed of enormous masses of granite piled on each other in the wildest confusion and looking as some race of Titans had commenced building a breakwater." Because of the many bays at the peninsula there is always a place that is protected from the weather. Animals such as birds, monkeys and lizards are common at Cape Mpimbwe. In the water, turtles are occasionally encountered while diving in the area. The colourful red headed agama lizard (Agama agama) is frequently seen on the naked cliffs near the water.
Inside view of camp
Deep water habitat
Barely 4 km off Cape Mpimbwe's coast lies Frontosa Reef, surrounded by very deep water. Here live large populations of the cichlid fish Cyphotilapia gibberosa (previously known as C . frontosa). The reef is a very interesting and exciting dive site, which was discovered and made known to the aquaristic world in July 1994. The submerged reef's shallowest depth is about 40 metres and it consists of huge boulders, some measuring up to more than 10 meters in diameter. In the deeper regions of the reef are dispersed open areas covered with thick layers of hard shell fragments. A very high density of fish is found at the reef. While the water is often crystal-clear, a strong current may occur from time to time, making some dives a bit of a challenge. When diving at the reef, a line is secured at the bottom with chains and shackles and attached to a large buoy at the surface, able to lift 200 kg. This set-up is used for descending and ascending the dive site with several decompression stops along the way to the surface. At six-meter depth two emergency diving tanks with breathing regulators are hooked onto the rope. A couple of metres from the bottom a bright plastic beacon is attached to the line, enabling the divers to find their way back to the ascending line in the dusky landscape, often appearing like a huge maze of dark rocks and boulders. This set-up is also used to moor the boat since laying anchor is complicated at the site because of the large boulders, the great depth and the quite often high seas.
Inside view of camp
A historical landmark in Utinta village, on the ridge of Cape Mpimbwe, makes its presence with the Old Catholic church from around 1895 built on an elevated location with a magnificent view over Utinta Bay and Lake Tanganyika. Another historical site nearby is the catholic mission station at Karema, formerly a Belgian stronghold called Fort Leopold when it was the centre of an era of slavery and war. The station was built in 1879 but in 1885 handed over to the missionaries White Fathers, who, soon thereafter, with Adolphe Lechaptois as missionary bishop, founded five more mission stations in the area, notably the mentioned station in Utinta village and one in Kala, at the southern shores of Lake Tanganyika. The Utinta station was, in the beginning of the twentieth century, a major catechist-teacher training seminary and the first two African priests of Tanganyika (now Tanzania) were ordained from Utinta in 1923. Karema village is located 30 km north of the camp.
The name Cape Mpimbwe derives from the area Mpimbwe Division, located in between north of Lake Rukwa and Lake Tanganyika. Mpimbwe Division has its own ethnic and linguistic group called Pimbwe.
Inside view of camp
Within walking distance from the camp are the Kasinde swamps, which contain several small rivers. Here you can see crocodiles, hippos and many different kinds of birds. A completely different fish fauna is found in the swamps. Aplocheilichthys pumilus and several Barbus species are common. A similar location, within walking distance from the camp as well, is the shallow Lake Kanyeziba, where crocodiles and a few cichlid fish species are found. Astatotilapia burtoni is very common in the small lake, but this fish is also common at many locations in Lake Tanganyika.
Inside view of camp
Exciting fishes
From an aquarist's point of view, there are two very interesting spots near the camp. One is the area with the islands off the coast of Kipili, located about 45 km south of the camp, where a wide array of underwater habitats and fish species are present. A couple of endemic species are found in the Kipili area, notably the recently described Lepidiolamprologus kamambae, as well as several endemic colour variants. The other location is the rocky coast north of the village of Ikola, located about 45 km north of the camp. At these two dive sites live some of the most famous aquarium fishes, such as the Ophthalmotilapia boops "Neon stripe" and the yellow Julidochromis regani in the Kipili area and the strikingly yellow coloured Tropheus sp. "Kaiser", Petrochromis fasciolatus "Neon eye" and Xenotilapia flavipinnis "Red royal", in the Ikola area. The habitat of rocky coast north of Ikola extends uninterrupted northwards along the escarpment to Isonga village. A much similar fish fauna could be found within the whole range. Like a trip to Cape Mpimbwe, a visit to these two places is an unforgettable experience to an aquarist and to anyone who appreciates nature.
Inside view of camp
Wildlife in the neighbourhood
About 15 km from the camp is Lwafi Game Reserve. It consists of a just over 2'800 square km large wooded area. In the reserve live many of the common African animals but chimpanzees are also said to be found. The road to Lakesite Tanganyika goes through this game reserve and you can often encounter giraffes, zebras and even lions on the road. In the vicinity of the camp is the elusive Katavi National Park. This national park covers a vast area of 10'000 square km in the middle of nowhere in Western Tanzania. Katavi is extremely remote and is one of the last examples of the great African wilderness, which utterly thumps with game, in sheer quantity and variety probably unmatched anywhere on the continent. The park also has a wealth of birds, with over 400 species identified. Because of the park's remote location, it receives fewer visitors in a year than the Serengeti National Park does in a day, which helps keeping it as an intact and elusive wilderness area. The distance from the camp is about 70 km.
Inside view of camp
Mahale Mountains
Another very interesting spot is the Mahale Mountain National Park, which is located at Lake Tanganyika, about 95 km north of the camp. The park is formed by a mountain range whose central part plunges down towards the lake. The area consists of dense forests and is, like Katavi, one of Tanzania's most remote and best-preserved wilderness. Surrounded by crystal-blue water with white sand beaches backed by the lushly forested mountains, Mahale Mountains National Park is one of the most intriguing and challenging places on the African continent. It is difficult to imagine a more idyllic place. In the park lives Tanzania's largest population of chimpanzees (home to more than 700) with antelopes, buffaloes, zebras, leopards and even lions keeping them company. In the protected waters within the park's boundaries live some of the most famous aquarium fishes, notably the Tropheus sp. "Double blot", the all red variety of Petrochromis sp. "Red", the yellow top Xenotilapia spilopterus and Petrochromis polyodon "Texas", the first three also living just outside the park's southern boundary at Mabilibili/Lyamembe. Since the water is protected from fishing, sand living cichlids, endangered or even extinct from over-fishing with beach seine at many other places, thrive in the shallow waters of the park. The only way to reach the park is by boat (an airstrip is however located 4 km north of the park).
Inside view of camp
Map Lakesite Tanganyika

Kullander, S. O., Karlsson, M. and Karlsson, M. (2012) Lepidiolamprologus kamambae, a new species of cichlid fish (Teleostei: Cichlidae) from Lake Tanganyika. Zootaxa, 3492: 30-48.