A four-square-kilometre crater lake north of Taveta, Lake Chala has one shore in Kenya and the other in Tanzania. Very deep and remarkably blue, it is a bewitchingly beautiful landscape, completely unsuspected from the plains below. Chala is still paddled over by a few friendly fishermen in their dugouts and is spiritually significant, with lake monster stories part of local folklore. From the 100m-high crater rim, it’s a steep descent to the lake and good walking shoes are advised. You might spot monitor lizards, baboons and vervet monkeys, and if lucky, a dik-dik or bushbuck. The bird list numbers more than 250 species, including peregrine falcons, which nest in Chala’s cliff-faces.
The lake, which is filled and drained by underground streams fed by the waters running off Kilimanjaro, is bilharzia-free. It was also once believed to be free of crocodiles. However, a crocodile killed a young British traveller swimming here in 2002, and you are very strongly advised not to enter the water. While locals swear the crocodile responsible was killed a few years later, there’s no reason to think the reptiles won’t colonize the lake again. They are resourceful survivors, and have been known to trek overland for long distances.