• Lupita Island
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • Full Service
  • $$
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Lupita Island

Lupita Island has thirteen uniquely crafted cottages, which all benefit from breathtaking lake and mountain views seen through their open verandas, which make the most of the balmy breezes and memorable sunsets. Dotted amongst a tropical forest of indigenous trees, the property strives to leave as little mark on the natural environment as can be.

Designed to be as comfortable and private as possible, all the cottages feature a larg ...

Lupita Island has thirteen uniquely crafted cottages, which all benefit from breathtaking lake and mountain views seen through their open verandas, which make the most of the balmy breezes and memorable sunsets. Dotted amongst a tropical forest of indigenous trees, the property strives to leave as little mark on the natural environment as can be.

Designed to be as comfortable and private as possible, all the cottages feature a large living area with cosy sofas and persian rugs, a well-stocked bar and a separate, spacious bedchamber. Each cottage also has its own plunge pool and sun deck as well as hot waterfall shower and large outside bath tub.

The Livingstone and Stanley suites cater for families of up to five, with an additional sleeping area and bathroom as well as the option of private dining.

A butler is on hand to help make your stay unforgettable and see to all your everyday needs. Our attention to quality and service will surpass guest expectations from the moment the flight touches down on our private airstrip.


Savour local delicacies and international dishes made with the freshest of ingredients. Our fish comes straight from the lake, including delicious grilled Nile perch and creatively seasoned Kuwe.

All meals can be taken in our convivial open-air restaurant - a charming thatched dining room, which is lit by candles at night as we serve three or four course dinners. For a more casual affair, have lunch or dinner by the pool or around the bar. Alternatively, make the most of our butler service with a romantic meal in your cottage.

A fully catered beach buffet is a special treat enjoyed by all.

Bar and Lounge

Relax with a refreshing drink in the shade, gazing out over the foliage to the sparkling waters of the lake.

Swimming Pool

Laze around our lovely freshwater pool under the African skies, with an ice-cool cocktail of your choice, ordered from the pool bar. Or swim to the water bar to cool down after relaxing in the sun.

For privacy and tranquility, the pool set away from the main area.


Set high on the hillside of Lupita Island, our spa and wellness centre has magnificent views of Lake Tanganyika and the neighbouring mountains.

Balancing the rustic grace of the natural landscape with modern salon facilities, the spa offers classic aesthetic treatments using essential oils and trusted massage techniques. Natural treatments with our experienced therapist will renew and hydrate your skin and feed your soul - a wonderful treat after a long day in the sun.


After a long-haul safari, or just a few days away, sometimes an outing to the Lupita gym can be the ideal way to unwind.

Whether keen for a casual tone up or an energising full body workout, the fresh air and views from our gym are arguably unbeatable.

Equipped with all the machines you will need to stretch, pull and push those muscles you will feel ready to tackle all the activities Lupita has to offer.

Games Room

Our games room is a great hit with teenagers and adults alike. A pool table, a fusball and table tennis table, not to mention the darts are available for use at any time. Plan a tournament with the family or just a knockabout with friends before dinner.

A variety of board games are on hand for those quiet evenings when the day's activities have mellowed your energy for the day.

Sandy Bar

Talk a walk down to our jetty and relax around our newly installed 'Sandy Bar' beach bar on the waters edge. Watch the fishermen in the distance as they paddle to their destinations. Lie on our private beach as the balmy breeze blows from the lake and take in the sheer beauty of Lake Tanganyika... not yet discovered.


End the day around our fire in our cozy boma. Lanterns light the way and delicious snacks are brought to you by our waiters accompanied by drinks of your choice and that sound of ice tinkling in your glass. Watch the lights of the fishermen as night takes over the light of day.

More About Lupita Island


We jumped at the chance to buy Lupita Island when it was offered to us. It was bare rock and foliage with no permanent habitation, so we had a blank slate. Construction began in 2004 and was completed in 2008. Wherever possible, we have utilised locally-sourced thatching, wood products and bricks as well employed tradesman from the local region. We consider the lodge as rustic luxury - straight lines and perfect symmetry are not part of the vocabulary here.


Lupita Island employs approximately 30 staff, some of whom originate from Arusha while others are locals from the surrounding islands and fishing villages. We strive to employ and train local people wherever possible as a means to improving the livelihoods and opportunities for remote Tanzanians.

The Island

Width - 840 m / 2756 ft

Peak elevation - 825 m / 2707 ft

Elevation of the lake (above sea level) - 766 m / 2513 ft

Distance to the airstrip - 3 miles


Beach Buffet

Join us for a wonderful fun-filled day on a private beach. Spend an afternoon relaxing on the sands or snorkelling around the nearby rocks.

A fully catered beach buffet is laid out on white table cloths with wines of your choice or cocktails mixed to order by our experienced barman.

Laze in the crystal clear waters while you sip your sparkling wine. Watch the sun set on the horizon as you slowly make your way back to Lupita by wooden lake boat.

Local Choir

Totally independent and proud of their singing, the Kipili church choir has been visiting Lupita since we first opened in 2008 . Between 20 and 30 men and women of varying ages sing traditional songs and perform African dances, choreographed by a lively leader. Over the years they have managed to save enough donations to build up their church building in Kipili village. Their performance is a unique treat for our guests.

Local Villages

Interacting with local communities is a highlight of our guests' stay here. There are two small, traditional African villages on neighbouring islands where life has changed very little over the centuries.

A vigorous one-hour walk away, on a adjoining island, residents of the fishing village will gladly chat to outsiders keen to understand how they live, work and pass their leisure time.

Half an hour away by boat, another village has a weekly market where Lupita Island's chefs source their fresh fish and produce.

Kilipi Monastery

Visit the remains of a monastery in Kipili, built around 1890 as part of an anti-slavery campaign by the White Fathers. Missionaries bought slaves to save them and also adopted orphans.

Helicopter Hire

Hiring the helicopter for your trip can add another dimension to you stay on Lupita Island. Take a day trip to Katavi National Park and picnic on a remote hillside. Or we can arrange for safari vehicles to meet the helicopter and spend an exciting day in the park game viewing. Picnic on remote beaches and ancient rocks along the lake. And of course you can take the amazing flight to Kalambo falls, the second highest waterfall in Africa on the Zambian border.

Please note - the helicopter has to be hired for a minimum of 20 hrs from base to base, we do not have it available on Lupita Island.

Kalambo Falls

Approximately 90 miles (three hours by helicopter) south of Lupita Island are the spectacular, and untouched Kalambo Falls. Located on the Tanzania / Zambia border and feeding the Kalambo River, Kalambo Falls drops in a single flow from a height of 772 feet, making it Africa’s second tallest waterfall after Tugela Falls in South Africa. Interestingly, the cliff face of Kalambo Falls provides the perfect environment for the nesting and breeding of a colony of marabou stork. Downstream of the falls, lies the Kalambo Gorge. At a depth of about 300 metres, and width of about 1 km, the gorge travels for about 5km before opening out into the Lake Tanganyika rift valley.

John Desmond Clark first recognized archaeological activity around a small basin behind the falls in 1953. Late Acheeulian stone tools, hearths (the floor of fireplaces) and well preserved organic objects including a wooden club, digging sticks and evidence of fruit consumption, were all found at the site. Tools excavated from Kalambo Gorge have been radio carbon-dated to 300,000 BC and the hearths indicate that people were systematically using fire some 60,000 years ago.



Our two-man kayaks make a great way to explore the islands from a different perspective, with amazing visibility into the depths. Why not paddle out to a beach picnic set out for you by our staff.

Keep an eye out for sea otters !

Swimming and Snorkelling

Take off for a leisurely swim in the warm shallows or snorkel along one of the island's many hidden coves teaming with brightly coloured cichlids native to the lake. Currents are minimal and the visibility excellent.

Winsor Rose

Winsor Rose is our grand old lady of the lake. The 46 ft cruise boat was built in the early 1980s and brought to Lake Tanganyika overland from Lake Kariba in Zimbabawe.

Ice cold drinks and canapes are brought to you by the boat stewards while you laze on board or swim in a mile of water off the bough.

Enjoy a sunset cruise on the top decks while slowly making your way around the island.


Surrounded by the pristine lake, Lupita Island lends itself to a variety of fun watersports - both motorised and non-motorised. Active guests are sure to be kept entertained.


Try your hand at fishing the old-fashioned way, with a handline and an oar accompanied by an expert local fisherman.

Or, go all out on a speedboat and fish with the latest gear.

Lake and History



Lake Tanganyika is the 2nd largest freshwater lake, by volume and the 2nd deepest lake in the world. Situated in the western section of the Great Rift Valley, a rift which runs for about 4000 miles from Lebanon to Mozambique, the lake is confined by the mountainous walls of the valley and is thought to have been formed between 10 and 20 million years ago during the Miocene period.

The enormous depth of the lake and its tropical location mean that the ‘turnover’ of water masses which occur in most water bodies, do not occur. This has resulted in the lower depths of the lake becoming anoxic (lacking oxygen) and thus producing ‘fossil water’. As such there is believed to be no fish life below 300ft.

While there are several small rivers and streams entering the lake, there are just two main rivers which flow into Lake Tanganyika. The Ruzizi River, carrying flows from Lake Kivu, feeds the north of Lake Tanganyika, whilst the Malagarasi River enters from the east side. Interestingly, the Malagarasi river pre-dates the formation of Lake Tanganyika and was formerly continuous with the mighty Congo River.

There is only one major outflow from the Lake, the Luvuga River, feeding into the Congo River drainage system, which eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean on the western coast of Africa.


The shores of Lake Tanganyika are home to a large number of peoples with varied cultures. On the Tanzania side, near to Lupita Island, the predominant people of the region are the Ufipa. However, improvements in transport systems have encouraged people from other tribes to migrate to the region. A visit to any local village may find you crossing paths with Congolese, Zambian, Burundian and of course Tanzanian nationals.

Fish and Fishing

Some of the common species caught for consumption are the Giant and Small Nile Perch (‘sangala’), the Lake Tanganyika yellow-belly or English Fish (“Kuhe’) and the Goliath Tigerfish. Additionally local people rely heavily on the fishing and consumption of varieties of sardines, locally referred to as Kapenta and dagga.

One of the richest freshwater ecosystems in the world, the lake is also habitat for at least 280 known species of cichlid, a perchlike freshwater fish. Lake Tanganyika cichlids are revered amongst aquarium enthusiasts partly due to their unusual behaviour of carrying their eggs in their mouths and partly due to their bright colours. Over 98% of cichlids found in the lake are endemic – meaning they are only found here in Lake Tanganyika and many have very specific adaptations for this lake. This kind of elevated endemism also occurs amongst the numerous lake invertebrates such as molluscs, crabs, shrimps, jellyfish and copepods.


Average depth - 1,870 ft

Maximum depth - 4,820 feet

Average width - 31 miles

Length of coastline - 1,136 miles

Length - 481 miles - the world's longest lake

Volume - 18,880 km2

Average water surface temperature - 77 °F


Currently one of the oldest working lake boats in the world. Built in Germany in 1913, the Graf von Gotzen was one of 3 vessels operated by the Germans to control Lake Tanganyika during the early part of World War I. Principally used for ferrying cargo and personnel across the Lake, it was also used as a base from which to launch surprise attacks on Allied troops. Supported by the 2 other ships the Kingani (a gunboat) and the Hedwig, the three German ships ensured almost complete control of the Lake by Germany.

Attempting to wrest control of the Lake from the Germans, the English Royal Navy, sent two ships, HMS Mimi and HMS Toutou to Lake Tanganyika in December 1915. The Kingani was captured and the Hedwig sunk in 1916, thus leaving the Graf von Gotzen as the only remaining German vessel on the Lake. By June 1916, after a bombing raid on German positions in and around Kigoma (northern Lake Tanganyika), the war on the Lake reached a stalemate, both sides refusing to mount another attack. Meanwhile the war on land was progressing, largely to the advantage of the Allies, who cut the rail link in July 1916 threatening to isolate Kigoma completely. This led the German commander, Gustav Zimmer, to abandon his post in Kigoma and head south down the Lake.

To avoid the prized Graf von Gotzen from falling into Allied hands, it was decided to scuttle the ship. The same 3 engineers who had originally travelled with the pieces and assembled the ship in 1913, were then asked to undertake the scuttling of the Graf von Gotzen. On their own, they decided that they would try to scuttle the ship in a way to enable a later salvage, and thus loaded the ship with sand and covered all engines with a thick layer of grease. On July 26th 1916, in relatively shallow water close to the mouth of the Malagarasi River, the Graf von Gotzen was carefully sunk.

By 1924, long after World War I, the ship was salvaged by the British Royal Navy. They found that the engines and boilers were still usable and the ship was recommissioned in May 1927 as the MV Liemba to serve as a passenger and cargo ferry.

Today the MV Liemba is owned by the Tanzanian Railways Corporation. In the 1990’s she was converted from steam to diesel power and refurbished with assistance from a Danish aid organisation. The MV Liemba runs twice monthly between Bujumbura (Burundi) in the north, Kigoma in Tanzania and Mpulungu (Zambia) in the south, stopping in many villages and towns along the Lake to collect and drop off cargo and passengers. Accommodation on the MV Liemba ranges from 1st Class (Luxury Cabin) to 3rd Class (seating only).

FAME & INSPIRATION...The MV Liemba was the inspiration for the German gunboat Luisa in C. S Forrester's novel of 1935 The African Queen, and later the movie of the same name starring Katherine Hepburn.

In 1992 British comedian of Monty Python fame, and renowned travel writer, Michael Palin stayed aboard the MV Liemba and it featured in his renowned travel series Pole to Pole.

Most recently Giles Foden penned the story of the sinking of the ship in his book Mimi and Toutou Go Forth: The Bizarre Battle for Lake Tanganyika.

Marine Park

Lupita Island and the neighbouring island are working toward making the bay between the two islands into a marine park - the first of its kind on Lake Tanganyika. The villagers and elders are enthusiastic participants, realising that the fish on Lake Tanganyika need a safe haven where they can breed without being caught. Many tiny cichlids have very small breeding grounds and we hope the marine park will allow some of the rarer species to grow in numbers. The proposed area is wonderful for snorkelling and kayaking.

Island Access


Private Charters

Private charters can be arranged at any time, to Lupita Island's airstrip in Kipili.

From time to time the potential to share private charters can arise so feel free to ask us about other connections available.

Fast Jet

Fast Jet operates daily flights between Dar Es Salaam and Mbeya. The road transfer to Lupita Island is 7 hours including a picnic.

Safari Link operates regular services from Arusha and Dar Es Salaam to Ruaha and onwards to Katavi (with a request stop at Kipili for Lupita Island). An overnight stop in Ruaha is required en route to Lupita Island but not on the return journey.

Helicopter Hire

Hire must be for a minimum of 20 hours from base to base (Nairobi). Contact us for rates and further details.


Weather- Lupita Island is open all year round. The temperature is relatively constant throughout the year, averaging 25 - 29 °C in the daytime and 18-23°C at night. Rainy season runs from mid-March to mid-May and November to January.

Visas- Visitors from many countries can purchase a visa on arrival at the airport ($50 single entry / US Citizens pay $100), which is valid 90 days. Make sure you have enough cash in pounds, euros, dollars or another popular currency. Check with your local Embassy / High Commission before departure.

Electricity - A 240V- 50Hz solar system provides our power in the daytime. At night, we use a battery inverter. Suites have power 24 hours a day but the system is delicate and a vital part of our infrastructure so we do ask that unusual electrical equipment is approved by management before use. We provide special hairdryers for use in the rooms.

Health - All our water comes directly from the lake - it is extremely clean and meets international hotel standards. However, we do not advise drinking the tap water and provide drinking water in each room.

Malaria prophylaxis is advised, with Malarone the most popular option. Travellers arriving from a Yellow Fever area will require proof of vaccination to enter Tanzania.

We encourage guests to contribute $30 towards the Flying Doctor service to cover any eventuality during their stay.

Ecology - We are careful to avoid using detergent soaps at the resort. Eco-friendly soaps are provided in the bathrooms.

Communication - Internet access is via satellite - there is limited wifi connection in the main areas of the lodge. Mobile phones are able to pick up a signal - roaming charges can be significant.

Payments - Cash, cheque and Visa credit cards are all accepted.

Safari Combination

The perfect antidote to early morning starts and long days in the bush, a stay at Lupita Island makes for an unforgettable beach and safari combination with many of Tanzania's game reserves and national parks.

Nearby Mahale is famous for its primates and pristine mountains reaching down to Lake Tanganyika. The park has some of Africa's last remaining wild chimpanzees - about 900 individuals - which are habituated to humans thanks to a Japanese research project found in the 1960s.

Ruaha is the second largest national park in Tanzania, with various rivers serving as a lifeline for wildlife as well supporting agriculture and hydro-electric power further downstream. Semi-arid with picturesque baobab and acacia trees, the park has the highest concentration of elephants in East Africa. Ruaha is also home to lions, leopards, cheetah, kudu, impala, elands, endangered wild dogs, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, bat eared foxes, jackals and crocodiles.

Katavi may be lesser known but it has Tanzania's densest concentration of hippos and crocodiles, around the Katuma river and its floodplains. In the rainy season it is also a haven for myriad waterbirds on its lush, marshy lakes. Katavi is a true wilderness - seldom visited and isolated - thus it is ideal for an authentic Tanzanian safari away from the crowds.

Renowned for its mesmerising wildebeest migration, the Serengeti can also be combined with Lupita Island via private charter. Tanzania's oldest and most popular national park offers endless game viewing opportunities, with its wide open plains and don't miss the breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater National Park. The best place to see the big five, the Serengeti is also the homeland of the Maasai tribe.

Please contact us for bespoke itinerary ideas.

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