Longest Lake in the World Complete

Tanganyika Paddle Expedition Dispatch

Some of you may be aware that I set out a five weeks ago to try and kayak the length of the longest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.

What started out as a desire to explore this fairly remote eastern shoreline of Lake Tanganyika, has turned into more than I could ever have imagined. I am pleased and relieved to let you know that after 25 paddling days, and a distance of approximately 750km, I have completed the lake from south to north.


As far as I’m aware, the full length has been completed by four men, so it is very possible that I am the fifth person and first woman to do so by non-motorised water transportation.

2016-08-20burundi-61I started the journey with a fellow South African, Simon Dunshea, who paddled with me from the most southern most town, Mpulungu in Zambia, up to Kigoma in Tanzania. From Kigoma onward, I had the pleasure of paddling with Tanzanian guide, Gaspar Kazumbe, to the most northern point, Bujumbura in Burundi.

I am fairly used to planning expeditions, but anyone who has joined me in this undertaking will attest to the fact that best laid plans almost always go awry and the true measure of a successful expedition is how one deals with shortcomings and finding alternate plans when all seems lost.

2016-07-18tanganyika-127This couldn’t have been more true on this journey, and just a week ago I was still being denied access into Burundi. Sometimes taking a small risk and seizing an unlikely opportunity makes all the difference and I honestly feel that the drawbacks and delays that I experienced over the course of the expedition triggered alternate plans which worked far better than initial arrangements.

I have so many people to thank – people who have gone out of their way to ensure that I have the best possible chance of success, friends who have assisted with contacts, opened up their homes, encouraged me from near and far.

2016-07arusha-7Thanks so much to Niall McCann and Jason Lewis for your guidance on long distance paddling expeditions, Lev Wood and Leon McCarron for essential satellite navigation and tracking equipment, Kingsley Holgate and Bruce Leslie for much needed encouragement and for crucial insight into Burundi in particular, and to Roy Watt and Brad Hansen for opening up their homes to me.

But the biggest thanks need to go to my parents, Margi & Barney Dillon (UK), Luke & Chloe Davey (Nairobi, Kenya), Louise & Chris Horsfall (Lake Shore Lodge, Tanzania) and Ingrid and Oddvar Jakobsen (Kigoma, Tanzania) who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to assist with logistics, contacts and so much more. They have invested their time and energy into making, what is largely a very selfish venture, possible and I can’t thank them enough.

For anyone who wishes to read more about the journey, I have a blog which I will update over the next few weeks. I will also be submitting a report to the Royal Geographical Society for their archives. Please let me know if you would like a copy of this report and I will be happy to forward it on to you.

I trust you all are well and hope to see some of you very soon back in London.

Onward in the quest for an adventurous life,




Lake Shore Lodge – Kipili, Tanzania

Nomads Greystoke – Mahale, Tanzania

Lupita Island – Kipili, Tanzania

Isanga Bay – Mpulungu, Zambia

Jakobsens Beach – Kigoma, Tanzania



Palm Equipment Paddling Gear

Overboard Dry Bags 

Rail Riders Clothing

Osprey Backpacks

Tracks4Africa Navigation

2 thoughts on “Longest Lake in the World Complete

  1. Dear Shara,

    Think of you so often and been meaning to contact you for some time. But you’ve probably been inundated since your return.

    So pleased you made it to Bujumbura in one piece. What an amazing experience, I do envy you that one. Were Marc and Bernadette at the Hotel Tanganyika able to help you at all? And why did Simon drop out at Kigoma?

    Meeting you was certainly one of the highlights of that Africa trip. If you’re ever down in the Western Cape, we live on the lagoon near Hermanus, it would be great to meet up with you again. Perhaps we can even do a day trip paddling up the Klein river to Stanford – always a pleasant experience, if the weather is good. And you’re welcome to stay here with us.

    Best wishes for Christmas and the New year.

    With love

    Carol (van Hoogstraten)

    PS. We met you at Isanga Bay and we all had dinner together, in case you’ve forgotten, having met so many people en route.

    • Hi Carol, it’s great hear from you! I am pleased I made the entire journey too. It wasn’t easy and we had to get through some red tape in the end. Simon had to go back to the farm by the time we got to Kigoma. To be honest, I needed an African guide in Burundi so it all worked out in the end. It was wonderful meeting you all too. The highlights of my trip often include the people I meet along the way, and you’re part of that!
      Happy Christmas to you too and I hope 2017 is full of just as many adventures!

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