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Adventure Travel >> Day Trips

Lake Challa

L ake Chala,  a caldera lake,  lies some 30km to the south-east of Kilimanjaro, and is said to be over 2.5 miles deep. It is believed to be the caldera of the first volcanic eruption some three-quarters of a million years ago. Lake Chala is the remnant of a mountain destroyed in an eruption at that time.

The vast erruptions that caused the Great Rift Valley, a giant fault in the earth’s crust that runs through East Africa, was the cause of what is now the Kilimanjaro massif.  With molten lava bursting through the fractured surface of the land, the huge pressures behind this eruption pushed part of the Earth’s crust skywards, creating the Shira volcano, the oldest of the volcanoes forming the Kilimanjaro massif.

Soon after Shira’s extinction, Mawenzi started to form following a further eruption within the Shira caldera. Though much eroded, Mawenzi has at least kept some of its volcanic shape to this day.
Around 460,000 years ago, an enormous eruption just west of Mawenzi caused the formation of Kibo,  the continual subterranean pressure causing Kibo to erupt several times more, forcing the summit ever higher.

A further huge eruption 100,000 years later led to the formation of Kilimanjaro’s characteristic shiny black stone, This spilled over from Kibo’s crater into the Shira caldera forming the so-called 'Saddle'.
Later eruptions created a series of distinctive mini-cones, or parasitic craters, that run in a chain south-east and north--west across the mountain, as seen in the area around Chala.  Lake Chala, is fed entirely by underground streams from Kilimanjaro, hence the normally clear waters. Chala in turn feeds the waters of Lake Jipe, some 30 kms distant as the crow flies, through more underground systems.

Water levels have been dropping over the last few years, and there is concern that one of the caves in the system may have collapsed, or maybe the waters from Kilimanjaro no longer soak down so strongly with the melting of the glaciers.  








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