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Sunday Times - November 11

Sunday Times - NOvember 2011 - Lead me to the lakes, by richard green

The news that resorts on the northeast coast of Kenya, such as Mikes Camp, on Kiwayu Island, and Manda Bay, in Lamu, have reopened will be welcomed by those looking forward to their winter ration of turf and surf — the classic African holiday combination of safari and seaside. For those still reluctant to head to the coast, however, or less keen on the combined attentions of sandflies and Mombasa’s beach boys, there is a more exclusive option.

Africa’s great lakes run along the Rift Valley and are flanked by lush jungles and purple mountains. Their names are evocative of African exploration and romance — Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi — and they remain unspoilt. Yet alongside the national parks and traditional fishing villages that line their shores, there’s a smattering of gorgeous, stylish lodges with charming beaches, good swimming, fishing, kayaking, snorkelling and diving. All offer the chance, after a dusty spell on safari, to soak up the hot sun to the sound of lapping water and the balm of a lakeside breeze.

Many of the lodges are run by top safari operators, and some are just a short drive from world-class game reserves. Here’s our guide to the best lakes, where to stay and which safari parks to combine them with.

Lake Tanganyika

It’s the longest freshwater lake in the world, bordered by Tanzania, Zambia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the Tanzanian side, Ujiji is the town where Stanley met Livingstone, he presumed.

The lakeside villages, once notorious for the slave trade, are still bustling fishing and trading communities, stitched together by the stately, 1913-built MV Liemba lake steamer. Lake Tanganyika is best combined with safaris in the Serengeti — and, if you need yet more animals, there are chimpanzee troupes living on its shores.

Where to stay
Greystoke Mahale (greystoke-mahale.com) comprises six open-fronted wood and thatch huts on a white-sand beach, and can arrange chimp tracking in the surrounding Mahale Mountains National Park (they have been known to wander through the camp, too).

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sunday times , November 2011