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Written by: Taher Nassrulla on 16 September 2015

Lake Duluti – a paradise for birds and reptiles

Lake Duluti

Just a 20-minute drive away from Arusha, in the shadow of Mount Meru lays a crater lake. The Wameru tribe of the area named it Duluti. Lake Duluti is formed inside a volcanic crater and has water throughout the year, mainly from groundwater and seasonal rainfall. The crater is a subsidiary vent to Mount Meru (4566m) that towers over the lake.


The depth of the lake is unconfirmed, but locals estimate it at around 700m deep. The water from the lake is used in the surrounding areas and rumour has it that the city of Arusha was planning to utilise the water from the lake to supply the whole city.

Lake Duluti is about 1100m across and covers an area of 63ha. The walls of the crater – up to 200m high – are mostly covered in a thick forest. These thick forests are home to many reptiles as it provides a suitable environment for hunting and nesting. In fact, on a recent visit to the crater, we were rewarded with a sighting of an eastern green mamba, who unfortunately did not hang around long enough for a photo. Monitor lizards, some of which can be as big as 2m, can be seen basking on old broken trees.

The lake itself also provides the perfect habitat for water birds and Duluti is claimed to have up to 130 different species. The most common birds that can be seen include grey herons, fish eagles, cormorants, ospreys, egrets and kingfishers.


The lake has abundant fish proven by many groups of cormorants that hang out together to fish. Many locals come to the lake at night to fish, which of course is making competition for food among the wild animals harder. You need a permit to fish…

Visitors to Lake Duluti can go canoeing to explore the lake for a different perspective. This is a great way to explore the marsh areas of the lake. Here, huge papyrus plants are a noisy, colourful nesting ground for many of the birds. Usually a canoe trip around the lake takes around 2-3 hours.

If walking is your thing, then the hike around the crater is a ‘must’. A small path leads through the forest that provides enough shade that you can do the walk even in the hottest time of the day. Every now and then, there is a ‘window’ from where hikers can admire birds as well the breath-taking views of Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro. Hikers are accompanied by a ranger from the Duluti forest reserve and the hike around the lake can take up to 2 hours.


A day excursion to Lake Duluti from Arusha can be day filled with activity and wonder.

Author: Taher Nassrulla

Born in East Africa, Taher was intrigued by the natural and geographical diversity of the African bush from a young age. After spending some time in Europe, he returned to Tanzania in 2004 to start a new chapter in his life. Since then he has been spending as much time as possible in the bush, learning. Taher speaks English, Kiswahili and German fluently and is a passionate photographer. Using the skills he has learnt over the years, he now takes tourists out on safari as a German-speaking tour leader and guide.

17 thoughts on “Lake Duluti – a paradise for birds and reptiles”

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    • Jambo Julian,

      thank you very much for your comment.

      We would appreciate if you share your knowledge about that caves at Lake Duluti here.

    • hello there I was there today and we did some birds watching its a very nice place if u plan to pay a visit its $10 per person old for bodywarking

    • Hi Johanes,

      as mentioned above, the price is about $10 per person in one of the local canoes. This rate is for about one hour and might be negotiatable on site. There are other operators which sell the guided package for about $35 per person for approx. 1,5 h. We hope that helps!

  • When using the canoes would it be possible to use a SLR camera with a good lens? i.e. is there any risk of ending up in the water?

  • Hi I will be passing through arusha and thought a two hour visit to the lake for a walk would be great…is this a possibility or is it like planning a safari trip? I’d leave after said 2 hours…

    • Hi Ayaa,

      you are most welcome to Arusha.

      It is possible to visit Lake Duluti and arrange the walking tour on site – however this depends
      on availability and pre-notice would be advisable, especially if you have a certain time frame.

    • Hello Emma,

      Tanzania in general is a safe country to do hiking and you can go around the Lake without a guide, however it might be possible you will be told otherwise on the spot and a forest ranger will be assigned to accompany you. The fees for the walk are less than taking canoes. The hike around Lake Duluti can also be combined with other guided activities in the area. I would suggest to search on tripadvisor for Lake Duluti and read the feedbacks there.

    • Hello Gervas,

      the road from Arusha city is a four lane two ways road up to the turn off. From there it is not far.
      So with moderate traffic one can get from the Clock Tower to Lake Duluti in less than 30 mins by car.

      • hallo Webmaster – please can you put me in touch with the Forest Ranger office at Lake Duluti. I am planning a small group in July 2020 to Arusha – Lake Duluti might be a nice half day excursion for non-golfers….if you can let me have an email address it would be great. Thanks Bea

  • A pleasant place to be,l have been there last week and really liked the place.

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