The lake is accessible via the B1 Highway from the village of Kifaru, about 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of the Tanzanian town of Moshi. Jipe covers an area of roughly 30 square kilometres (12 sq mi), and measures approximately 12 miles (19 km) long by 3–4 miles (4.8–6.4 km) broad. Jipe is a shallow backwater of the Lumi river, which afterwards becomes the Ruvu River, and enters in the Nyumba ya Mungu Reservoir. After joining there with the Kikuletwa the stream flows as Pangani River in the Indian Ocean at Pangani. The lake lacks a current as the river that flows in, turns round and flows out again. Its water is only drinkable after it has been well boiled and skimmed. On its southern bank, the mountains of Ugweno rise 6,000–7,000 feet (1,800–2,100 m), contrasting markedly with the opposite shore, which is a flat plain, but little raised above the lake.Mount Kilimanjaro's Kibo Peak is viewable from the lake.
Some 120,000 people depend on the lake for their livelihood. The inhabitants of villages surrounding Lake Jipe are mainly involved in fishing, agriculture and animal husbandry. To the south-east of the great mountain is the little agricultural colony of Taveita. Ki-taveita is the language used by the Bantu half of the population, and Maasai is the language of the remainder. Ki-gweno is the dialect of the Ugweno mountains (Ugono) to the south of Lake Jipe. Lake water is used for irrigation of the surrounding farmlands.