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Lupita Island, Tanzania

February 14, 2011 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent


Lupita Island
“Intimate” is the word for Lupita Island, which hosts only 28 guests at a time.




Lake Tanganyika can add a new dimension to a Tanzania trip. At the end of a Tanzania safari, encourage your clients to unwind and relax on Lupita Island, a privately owned resort in the middle of the lake that offers an upscale escape, with plenty of water-based activities. Good to know: Because the island is small, there are never more than 28 guests on it at a time, guaranteeing an intimate experience for your clients.


Agent Advice

Anastasia Mann, chairman and CEO of Anastasia’s Africa, who was one of the first visitors to the island, has great memories of the experience. She recommends Lupita Island for people who want to take time off for a unique African experience.

“The island activities are geared toward water sports. The lake is very much like an ocean—vast and fast and, of course, deep. Fishing, snorkeling, deep-sea diving, boating are all the specialties of the place. The island has a nice pool area and extraordinary views from all the villas around it. “The rooms are all villas—little houses with vast rooms [including] living quarters, bedrooms, baths and view-space. They are iPod- and BlackBerry-friendly, too. They have mini dip pools. I would ‘select’ or request an accommodation based on one’s fitness—some of the walkways from the house to the ‘pick-up’ area are a bit steep. The best time to go there, in my opinion, is post-safari...hopefully after seeing Katavi and/or the chimp trekking experience. As for the time of year, if it’s safari season, then you should be fine. Try to avoid the rainy season. “It is self-contained—a small island, safe and ‘explorable’ by walks, hikes, etc. The staff and water sports folks are incredible. Hopefully, one or both of the Lithgows [Tom or Belinda] will be there...There is no game-viewing there; however, they will take you across the lake to beautiful beaches for the day [and] some game-viewing may be possible…this still should not be the basis for the visit. It is very romantic, especially in the villas, isolated [and] quiet, but it is also excellent for a group or corporate retreat. “There is nothing like this anywhere in Africa,” she says


The island has 13 open-air villas (11 double-occupancy cottages and two family cottages), the smallest of which sprawls out over 1,800 square feet. The villas’ undulating roofs are thatched with local grasses, and each room has one wall open to nature. Rooms also have bathtubs or plunge pools on either the deck or terrace, a large lounge with a bar, and views of the surrounding lake and neighboring islands. Best of all: Each villa offers private butler service.

Like the rooms, a large part of the resort is open to the elements, letting guests connect with nature. The restaurant, for example, has views of the lake to complement the just-caught fish, grilled Nile perch and a creatively seasoned Kuwe. Lupita Island’s chefs specialize in local African cuisine, but add their own twists to the recipes.

Game-viewing on the island is limited, although the staff can bring interested guests to the mainland to see wildlife. Activities on the island include kayaking, sailing, boating, fishing, snorkeling, fishing village visits and cultural experiences in other nearby villages, cycling and hiking trips, and walks on the island with a local botanist and bird-watching with the resident ornithologist.

Head Concierge John Mororo can arrange tours to Kalambo Falls along with a picnic lunch on a private beach. (The three-hour helicopter ride, we hear, is a terrific way to explore the lake.) On the island itself, Mororo can arrange beachside dining for couples or in-room spa treatments.

Mororo also organizes visits to the local villages for unique cultural experiences. An isthmus connects Lupita to a neighboring island with a traditional fishing village that guests can explore. They can also take a boat to another village with a weekly market where the Lupita chefs purchase fresh fish and produce.

Lupita Island makes a significant contribution to local villages through established village committees and school sponsorships. Guests also can head across the lake and get involved in the communities.

Getting There

Kilimanjaro Airport, near Arusha, is the closest international airport. There are flights to Kilimanjaro from Amsterdam with KLM, or to Nairobi, connecting to a 50-minute flight to Kilimanjaro. From Arusha, a scheduled three-hour flight by Cessna 208, on Mondays and Thursdays, takes guests to Lupita’s airstrip, followed by a a short, seven-minute boat ride across Lake Tanganyika to the island resort. For groups that wish to arrive and depart on other days, or for those who prefer a quicker flight (90 minutes from Arusha), a King Air 200 seating eight passengers can be chartered. Lupita’s private airstrip receives helicopters, too.

Agents can contact Belinda Lithgow, owner of Firelight Expeditions, or General Managers Steve and Lynn Boyd.



Lupita Island
The roofs of the 13 open-air villas on Lupita Island are thatched with local grasses.


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About the Author

Jena Tesse Fox
Jena Tesse Fox covers Europe, Africa, Australia/South Pacific and business travel for the Questex Travel Group's publications. The daughter of history teachers, she can spend...

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By Jena Tesse Fox | February 14, 2011
A safari in mainland Tanzania could give way to a gentler side of nature in the intimate Lupita island resort.