Exploring Africa’s second-largest crater lake – Lake Ngozi

Billed as Africa’s second-largest crater lake, though we’re still not quite sure which is the biggest, Lake Ngozi is an easy day trip from the southern Tanzanian city of Mbeya. We were back from seeing the flowers in Kitulo National Park and had a day before our train to Zambia so we thought we’d check it out. We saw a number of beautiful crater lakes in Uganda, so were all the more curious to visit Ngozi.

It was still dark and raining when we left town and after the easiest and quickest bus ride we’ve been on in Tanzania, we hopped off when the bus conductor waved to say we had arrived. We walked along a dirt road past fields of maize for 40 minutes before turning into the forest. Aside from the insects, it was a super walk through a lush, overgrown rain forest with enormous banana plants and bamboo. We climbed over, and ducked under logs and up a steep muddy path using tree roots to pull ourselves up where necessary. It took around an hour to the viewpoint.

These banana plants are massive!

The lake was a beautiful colour which shone when the sun came out from behind the clouds. There are many local legends about the lake changing colour, and also of a serpent who lives there, but luckily we didn’t see it this time! We enjoyed our breakfast at the top before sliding our way back down.

It was a lovely, affordable and easy day out and an adventure walking through the thick forest.

Practical Information

Where to go

Take a dalla dalla (shared mini-bus) from Nane Nane bus station in Mbeya towards Tukuyu and ask to be dropped at Ngozi crater (2000TSH).

It’s a straightforward route along a road and then turn right at a sign for Poroto and walk through the forest.


The crater now requires a permit ($10). The office is currently in Tukuyu but there are plans to open one somewhere more convenient soon. Currently, there is no one to check your permit at the crater, but there are plans to open a ranger post at the end of this month.

The village will also ask for a contribution. It’s pretty much mandatory, but is separate from the permit.

The Maua cafe in Mbeya can give you up to date information, and they also make delicious coffee, great food and have good wifi.


The path is very overgrown, muddy and there were a lot of insects so wear long trousers and good shoes.

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