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Mbamba Bay

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Mbamba Bay

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Mbamba Bay is a small town that is the southern-most port of Tanzania on Lake Nyassa (Tanzania's name for Lake Malawi). It is one of the few locations on the lake in Tanzania that is reachable by public bus and has basic tourist infrastructure. In contrast to what some popular guide books suggest, Mbamba Bay is not the end of the world. The road linking Mbamba Bay to the highland town of Mbinga has recently (2021) received a huge upgrade, and is now smooth tarmac, greatly reducing travel time. The A19 is now a continuous smooth road from Mbamba Bay all the way to Mtwara. Most of the town has electricity now, and local food, fruits, drinks, and supplies are widely available.

Get in[edit]

From Songea, you catch the direct morning bus at 6am (Kangulaya Trans, 9000tsh). There are also several daily departures from Mbinga, with the latest departing Mbinga around 3pm. As of spring 2021, a large new ferry on Lake Nyassa also serves Mbamba Bay on a weekly basis. This ferry has replaced the older and smaller MV Songea. The ferry departs from Itungi Port on the northern end of the lake on Mondays, making a number of stops at lakeside villages and arriving to Mbamba Bay on Tuesdays. The northbound trip departs Mbamba Bay for Itungi Port on Wednesdays. It is an extremely scenic trip. There is currently no regularly scheduled ferry service to Nkhata Bay (Malawi), but boats carrying passengers and cargo do leave sporadically. There is a Tanzanian immigration office at Mbamba Bay's port.

Get around[edit]

The town itself is small, so you can easily get around by foot. Boda bodas (motorbike taxis) are widely available in the town center and can take you anywhere in the vicinity at low rates. Expect to pay 1000Tsh to Stopover Bay Camp, and 3000Tsh to Bio Camp.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Crocodiles: the southern tip near the Bandari Beach Garden you can sometimes see crocodiles by the rocks

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Chill at the beach: probably the nicest spot near town is at Stopover Bay Camp, about a 15 minute walk north of the town center in the direction towards Liuli. An alternative is the beach next to the Bio Camp 4km out of town. Swimming in the clear lake water is warm and lovely. If you are unsure whether it is safe to swim, check with the locals or follow local example. Bilharzia is not common in Mbamba Bay since there is no grass at the beaches.
  • Go fishing or for a tour in a local boat: ask around about the opportunity to take a tour or a short fishing trip in an mtumbwi (small locally made dugout canoe). Maiko at Stopover Bay Camp can help arrange this, as well as walking tours and local cooking classes.
  • Walks to surrounding villages such as Kilosa and Mahalo Bay. Locals are friendly and will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There are many small shops and fruit and vegetable stands in the town center near the bus stand.

Drink[edit][add listing]

There are several bars in town, as well as a couple options right on the beach. Both bottled beer and spirits, as well as traditional homemade local beer are available, depending where you go. Soft drinks, tea, milk, and other bottled beverages are also available. Potable water is widely available in town - just ask and save the environment by reducing litter from single use plastic water bottles.

  • Bandari Beach Garden: a bar popular for local fishermen right on the lake. It south of town, pass the ferry stop and follow the main street. Take the first path on the right. After you passed the little bridge it is to your right.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Many local guesthouse in the area around the bus station.

  • St Benardetha Hostel, (Uphill, sign posted on the Luili road). small, no fan, but clean rooms with a balcony. Most of the rooms have a nice view on the lake. It is a church owned place run by sister which cook excellent local food (8000 tsh per meal). 20.000 tsh for a single/double.  edit
  • Stopover Bay Camp, (From the bus station take the Luili road north about 10-15 minutes. Ask locals or a motorbike taxi to help you find it.), +255656128107 (fax: "). Right on the nicest beach in the village, with hammocks and amidst a garden of fruit trees. 20,000 tsh with own tent, two 3-person tents are also available to rent.  edit
  • Bio Camp, (On the beach 4km out of town taking the Luili road). 60.000 for a banda.  edit

Get out[edit]

Same as in Get in. If hoping to travel by ferry service north to Itungi Port, ask locals at the port far in advance to make sure it is running as scheduled that week.

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