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

Expedition 2016: Tanganyika Paddle

PLEASE NOTE – I have just returned from this expedition. Blog posts will be out from Monday 27th September. Please do subscribe to the blog if you wish to receive information or check back in a couple of days. You’ll not want to miss it!  Shara

Yes folks, it’s expedition time again. For years I have dreamed about getting a water expedition under my belt and have settlied on paddling the length of the largest freshwater lake in the world – Lake Tanganyika.


I fell in love with this lake after spending a very brief couple of days on it’s shores at Lake Shore Lodge near Kipili during my London2Cape expedition in 2013. The owners, Chris and Louise Horsfall, were the most incredible hosts and moments spent with them, and the crew that were there at the time, ranks highly in my list of epic memories from the journey.

It’s going to be far tougher than anything I have done before. I have done a few multi day expeditions on water, but they have been guided and pretty tame, never paddling for more than 10-20 kilometers per day. This is a little more challenging as I’ll be paddling 30-40kms per day in a single kayak which also limits what I can take on board. Unlike a river journey, there is no flow and so most of the 673km of water will be physically pulled past me with each stroke. Because of the remote nature of the region, I have to be completely self sufficient and will rely on trading with people in the fishing villages for food and supplies.

With no power supply, I will be relying solely on solar panels and will attempt to update my Facebook page Under African Skies, with with short messages where I can using the sat phone.

I’ve been waiting for this for so long and can’t wait to get onto the water.

Onwards to Africa!

Island Kids

Photo Credit: Mat Ward



Expedition 2013: Kenya to Cape Town

After three years of planning, I tied up my business in London, did final preparations on the Land Cruiser and put it onto a cargo ship bound for Mombasa. That was after the Arab Spring threatened almost every route option and a handful of crippling incidences prevented me from leaving London with my convoy, dashing my dreams from driving the full length of London to Cape Town. Determined to do what I could to salvage the trip, the decision was made to drive from as high up as possible, on my own. Mombasa was the first safe port, and I was reunited with my Beast after six weeks. Loaded up and with the sound advice of local Kenyans, I headed south on a solo overlanding journey of a lifetime.

Disaster strikes more than once and a near fatal accident puts an almost certain end to the expedition. A potential highjacking, finding paradise, vehicle repairs, gorillas, rafting, near escapes, getting sick and living off mangoes – it all makes for one hell of an adventure!

This is my journey…

Whilst these posts speak more from the day to day life of the expedition, there is far more useful information for those wishing to plan a similar venture.  All photo albums can be found on the Under African Skies facebook page.

SHARA ARRIVES IN CAPE TOWN!UPDATE: 9 months after my journey started, I pulled into Cape Town. Tanned and happy, after living day to day in the most simple form, I have never felt more free, more alive and more content with life. I think about this trip and about the possibilities for more adventures daily. Dream big and go for it!

Tanzania Roadtrip Video

Journeying through Tanzania was all too brief and I have no doubt I will be back to explore this incredible country in more depth. Descending into the Ngorongoro Crater, where I would witness one of earth’s most unique ecosystems, was beyond extraordinary. The animals roam within their amphitheatre without a care in the world. Beyond the crater walls I passed briefly through the world of the Maasai. I sensed that they felt compelled to live a life on show – exposing their homes, their life and their children, in exchange for the money that tourists bring. I did get a sense that they would be better off without us as they are ultimately losing their nomadic ways in exchange for a quick buck. Onwards to the Serengeti where the plains opened up and were littered with wildebeest, buffalo and zebra as far as the horizon. I can’t describe the sheer volume of wildlife. My time in the Serengeti was days too short. After consulting the maps it was decided that I would veer off the beaten track. A few days and one passenger later, I left Arusha and took roads less travelled, traversing west towards Lake Tanganyika through Singida, Tabora, Mpanda and Katavi National Park. What an absolutely increidlbe adventure!