Mwanza is a city in Northwest Tanzania on the southern edge of Lake Victoria. Your main reason for coming here would likely be en route to Rwanda or Uganda. The city also received some international attention after the controversial documentary Darwin's Nightmare, which is about the trade in the Nile Perch, centered around this city.
Flights from Dar es Salaam with Fastjet, Arusha (JRO), Nairobi, Entebbe. On international arrival, you can easily obtain a visa (US$50).
There are daily buses going to and from Dar es Salaam. Several transport companies such as Green Star, Princess Muro and many more are one of the best and reliable choices. The journey takes about thirteen hours to reach Mwanza, the northern cultural and trading center. The unpaved road from Dar to Mwanza-Shinyanaga is under development by South African and Chinese road construction companies and has been completed. There are also buses to Bujumbura (Burundi), Kigali(Rwanda),Nairobi(Kenya)and Kampala(Uganda) on a daily basis.
There are daily trains to Dar es Salaam. These are often heavily booked up to 2-3 weeks in advance. But don't expect a comfortable journey by train as most of the time you will find the speed less than average.
To arrive from Uganda you can take a bus from Kampala to Bukoba (in Tanzania) and from Bukoba you can either take the ferry Monday, Wednesday or Friday evenings or the bus (several every day around 6-7 AM).
The ferry MS Victoria departs to the Tanzanian town [Bukoba) every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evening. Attention: As of February 2015 MS Victoria is suspended from service! The authorities require substantial safety improvements before MS Victoria will be allowed to carry passengers again. It remains unclear, when MS Victoria will resume service.
There is a ferry across the Mwanza gulf that leaves from the city (the Kamanga ferry) and another about 32km south of the city. The southern one is recommended for driving because the roads on the western terminal are rumored to be much better.
Daladalas (public "buses") are a good, cheap way to get from the city to the surrounding areas. Costing only 300tsh for a trip, they are crowded, slow, and thrilling sometimes. You may want to ask someone which one you need to take as there are no transit maps.
Taxis can be an option, although there aren't any official labels on them as there are in the capital. Use at your own risk.
Pikipikis are the little motorcycles that will take one or two people on as a fare. There are usually a few sitting at intersections. Again, use at your own risk.
The shores of Lake Victoria are interesting to walk along and popular with locals.
Climb to the top of Capri Point at the west end of Station Road for a nice view of the area.
- Safari - Definitely something to try, if you can afford it. While you are in Mwanza you may organize your safari to Serengeti ( only 2 hrs drive to the entrance gate). The less expensive excursions to reserves and parks are specialized, of a shorter duration, and worthwhile. If there's one trip that will change your perspective on life, it's an African safari.
- Ukerewe Island - Ukerewe is an island that can be reached by ferry from Mwanza or Kisorya Bunda. The passenger ferry New Butiama usually sails daily from Mwanza North Port to Nansio Ukerewe (1st/2nd class; 10,000/8,000TZS; 2 hours ) at 9am. It leaves Nansio Ukerewe for Mwanza at 2pm.
The speed boat MV Rafiki also sails from Mwanza North Port to Nansio Ukerewe (1st/2nd class; 15,000/10,000TZS; about 2 hours) at 3pm on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It leaves Nansio Ukerewe for Mwanza at 8am on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Two other ferries dock at Kirumba Mwanza, North of Mwanza’s center near the giant Balimi ad. The MV Nyehunge I (1st/2nd class; 7,000/6,000TZS; 3-4 hours) leaves daily from Mwanza to Nansio Ukerewe at 8:30am, and leaves Nansio Ukerewe be back to Mwanza at 2pm. Its sister, the MV Nyehunge II (1st/2nd/3rd class; 15,000/7,000/6,000TZS; 3-4 hours) leaves daily from Mwanza to Nansio Ukerewe at 2pm, and departs Nansio Ukerewe back to Mwanza at 7:30am the next morning.
Holiday Motel (Single/double room; 25,000/ 50,000TZS), La Bima Hotel (single/double/twin room; 10,000/15,000/18,000TZS) and Monarch Beach Hotel (20,000TZS) are the hotels that look good on the island. Please contact your trip organizer to give you more information about the hotel as all of the hotels are not found on internet.
- Ukerewe Impact Travels - Ukerewe Impact Travels is a tourism initiative run by Paschal Phares with the scope of making positive impact on the local community on Ukerewe Island, Lake Victoria, Tanzania.
Get in touch with Ukerewe Impact Travels (Paschal) via [email protected] or phone/WhatsApp on +255 763 480 134.
Frozen and fresh Nile perch fish fillet boxes available near the airport is the great buy.
There are some excellent fabric markets on the north end of Rwagasore Road with patterns and designs that aren't available in Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar.
Walk through the market area between Lumumba and Pamba Roads for an intense taste of a bustling market.
Great Lake Victoria's fresh water Tilapia fish is a must eat food. A good number of fish industries exist. They export Nile perch fish fillet (sangara fish) to Europe and South Africa.
- Pizzeria Kuleana, Post St. Pizzas, as expected, as well as a breakfast that is the favorite of both locals and travelers. Opens early, so it makes a good place to wait for the town to come alive if you have arrived with the night ferry. 7AM-9PM daily.
- The Food Square, Bantu St. near Nkrumah St. Open for breakfast and lunch. Excellent, popular, fast, local food for anywhere from 1000tsh to 4000tsh per person. A great daily stop. No alcohol.
- Harish Pan House, Nyerere and Post St. Indian food with Zanzibar flavor. Vegetarian menu limited to Samosas, Zanzibar mix soup, snacks and other Indian traditional breads.
- Sizzler, Kenyatta and Post St. Wide variety on the menu, local food, Chinese, and Indian dishes. 4000tsh - 8000tsh. Open for lunch, then closed until dinner.
- Mayi Hotel, Spacious outdoor restaurant with a good diverse menu. Lots of fish and chicken dishes. Arrive later in the evening for more menu availability. Their spaghetti and cheese sauce is especially good if you're vegetarian. 8000tsh - 12000tsh.
- New Mwanza Institute, Station Rd. west of the train tracks. Popular local outdoor restaurant. Local dishes only. 2000tsh - 4000tsh.
- Yun Long Chinese Restaurant. Good Chinese dishes with excellent atmosphere next to lake Victoria. More than 100 different dishes, some of them are only mentioned in chinese characters. You may pass by for just a drink as the bar here is excellent serving the usual African booze. Reasonably priced, a meal for two will cost you 10-15 USD. For a different taste.
Street food and fresh produce. Oranges, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, cassava, roast maize, taro are all available on the street from vendors for anywhere from 100tsh to 1000tsh. Also available are mandazi, bagias, and other local fried breads in some areas. Vendors are usually walking around, so they may be harder to find.
- City Hotel, unnamed Road close to Kirumba market. serves delicious Kitimoto (traditional pork), around 10.000 - 12.000 TSh for 1 kilo (05/2021) edit
- Tunza Lodge, (Located approximately 8km from town. Follow the airport road to the Llemela dalla-dalla stop, take a left turn, following a dirt road to the lake side.). Tunza Lodge is a beach resort on the shores of Lake Victoria. It offers sandy beaches, a bar and restaurant and weekend beach volleyball games on the sand. While the lake water is generally considered safer to swim in than areas closer to town, it is worth noting that the risk of schistosomiasis (a parasitic disease) via swimming or infected water is still present. edit
- The Breeze, Second floor in the New Mwanza Hotel (stairs are in the front, not the ones that go up to rooms). Nice view of traffic and people walking below. Open air but covered. A good place to wait out a sudden rain shower.
- The Police Cafe, on Station Road, just between Mwanza train station and Station Road. A cosy place run by police officers. You can sit in the garden under the trees and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, good food and cold beer.
Any local hotel and most restaurants serve beer and other drinks
- La Kairo is a top-end place to stay, prices from 30.000 Tsh to 100.000 Tsh. Working free internet, good meeting rooms. City is noisy at night.
- The Tilapia Hotel (on the shores of Lake Victoria) in the Capri Point area of town offers a swimming pool and bar, ideal for swimming on a hot day. Although the lake is adjacent, the water is infested with schistosomiasis and is not considered safe to swim in.
- Gold Crest Hotel opposite the New Mwanza hotel on Post street, this is a comfortable business hotel with a reliable generator and good WiFi. The restaurant/bar on the roof has a great view, though the music gets loud pretty early on so it's not good for a relaxed meal in the evening. The Indian restaurant through the first floor car park serves fantastic Indian food. The coffee shop on the ground floor serves real coffee (not instant coffee).
- Malaika Beach Hotel and Resort, recently completed, has a large restaurant, infinity pool with poolside bar, sprawling lawns and WiFi connections. You can watch the fishermen at work on the lake while you are at poolside.
- Victoria Palace Hotel, capripoint. Excellent hotel rooms with free internet, excellent Indian food prepared by an Indian chef. Free breakfast. edit
- Ramada Hotel, Rwagasore St. by Kenyatta Rd. Small sign outside, but nice rooms inside for the price. Bar and restaurant on the second floor, safe parking inside, satellite television (some channels in English) and en-suite bathrooms. 15,000tsh per night, but if you're staying for a week or so, you can negotiate down to 10,000 per night. Good mosquito nets, balconies, but not necessarily a fan in every room.
- Lake Hotel, Station Rd. west of Kenyatta Rd. Nice place with a restaurant. Small rooms with en-suite bathrooms. 15,000tsh per night. Safe parking. A little cramped for more than one night.
- Ryan's Bay Hotel Station Road, Capri Point, Mwanza, Tanzania. A nice four star hotel owned by Indian proprietors. Large comfortable rooms with views of Lake Victoria. Staff is very helpful and friendly. Room prices star at 100USD for a twin room. The hotel runs a safari company.
- Serengeti National Park - Serengeti is just two hours away from Mwanza thus the city is a good base to start a safari. If you start your safari from Mwanza you will enter Serengeti from the Western corridor at Ndabaka Gate.
- Rubondo Island National park in Lake Victoria.