The title isn’t strictly true. You can, of course, swim in any body of water. But, if the thought of parasites makes your skin crawl, then swimming in many of Africa’s lakes is probably not going to make you race for your budgie smugglers or speedos. The good news is, there are a handful of lakes you can swim in, parasite free.
Lake Langano lies just three and a half hours drive by car to the south of Addis Ababa in central Ethiopia. On a hazy day, the other side is just a promise and a vague line on the horizon. The water, aptly described by Lonely Planet, is like a giant cup of British tea. Yes, brown, but clean apparently.
Getting out of the city and getting some different air is always pleasurable, but the opportunity to go swimming in a landlocked country is wonderful. Being Chris’s birthday there was extra incentive to go.
Langano is popular because it is one of the few lakes in Africa you can swim in, but it is also a popular spot for birds. If you are a birder, then you can spend hours (apparently) watching and searching out many bird species, many of them endemic. My favourite were the social weaver bird (who build their nests right next door to each other – pictured below), although just greys and whites they are indeed very chatty and social.
Did I forget to mention the much larger animals that also inhabit the lake? Hippo? What hippo? They exist, but we have been informed they only like the other side of the lake, that mysterious far side.
A beach holiday in Ethiopia is certainly a novelty.