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MV Liemba

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MV Liemba

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The famous MV Liemba was built in 1913 in Papenburg, Germany. She was then deconstructed and shipped to Tanzania in 5,000 wooden boxes. In Kigoma she was reconstructed and finished under the Name "Goetzen" on 5 February 1915, just when the World War I reached the Lake Tanganijka. In an (successful) attempt to save the ship from being destroyed in the war it was sunk on purpose near a river mouth by its builders. Already in 1916 it was recovered by the Belgians. In 1920 (due to a storm) it sunk (once more) in the harbor and it took the British until 1927 to recover it. From then on the MV Liemba is sailing on Lake Tanganyika (with a short interruption from 1970-1976). It is the only remaining ship of the WW1-era German navy still in service. Liemba is the name of Lake Tanganyika in Swaheli language, which several of the lakes adjoining countries share, hence the name.


It had some serious renovation done and took a break for a couple of month in 2014. The first sail after the renovation was succesfully completed from 1 October 2014 to 6 October 2014 (1 day delay). It should now be running every other week on Wednesdays (1 Oct, 15 Oct, etc.) at 4pm (this should not be seen as a precise time).


Try to contact the Liemba office in English (or Swaheli if you can) via email: bm.kigoma`at´ The name of the contact person is Abel Giliard.

Tickets, prices and itineraries[edit]

Cost for tickets one way from Kigoma to Lagosa:

  • USD40 per person in a 1st class cabin (2 Persons, own fan, a little desk and your own lavatory)
  • USD35 per person in a 2nd class cabin (4 Persons, below first class cabins)
  • USD30 per person in 3rd class (benches below deck, not recommended)

It seems Mzungus are talked into 1st class. That said, the upgrade cost from 2nd to 1st (and even more so 3rd to 2nd) is very worth the price. There are ten 1st class cabins. Cabin #1 has two additional windows to the front, thus you can watch the scenery from the coziness of your own cabin. Also vibrations of the motor are much less notable than in the cabins further back. There is one more cabin to the front (#2? #6?) which shares these advantages.

Itinerary of MV Liemba with prices of 2011

This picture is from the office in Kigoma. It shows a price list of 2011. Though prices have increased (see Tickets) this should give an idea on what to expect. Also this may give an idea on the itinerary of MV Liemba.

A round trip starting from and ending in Kigoma on the MV Liemba takes about 5 days (plus the delay). Typical itineraries include the following (and vice versa):

  • From Kigoma to Lagosa (152km, get off here to get to Mahale, around 10 hours)
  • From Kigoma to Kasanga (538km, last stop in Tanzania)
  • From Kigoma to Mpulungu, Zambia (572km, around 2.5 days)

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Breakfast is available.
  • Dinner can be available as
  • Buffet (no refills) for TZS6000
  • Rice (or Ugali) with beef (or chicken) for TZS4000. Choose the beef.

Drink[edit][add listing]

A variety of cold local beer are available for a very reasonable TZS2,500 per bottle. Soft drinks and water are also sold.


  • Should the MV Liemba arrive after 8pm in Kigoma you will have to stay another night on the boat. The harbor in Kigoma is closed and you are only allowed out after 8am on the next morning. When the crew realizes this may happen, they sail slower. This is an attempt to not be standing still in the middle of Kigoma bay for too long.
  • You will need to pass through immigration. Expect your passport and yellow vaccination book to be checked.


  • Alex Capus (2007): Eine Frage der Zeit, ISBN 978-3-8135-0272-5, in German.
  • Sarah Paulus, Rolf G. Wackenberg (2013): Von Goetzen bis Liemba – Auf Reisen mit einem Jahrhundertschiff. ISBN 978-3-00-042050-4, in German.


  • A documentary titled Liemba [1] was release in 2011 by Breadbox Productions and Indican Pictures.