Northwest Tanzania is known as Africa's Great Lakes region, because it is home to Tanzania's portion of Lake Victoria in the north and Lake Tanganyika in the west.
Apart from Mwanza, the northwest does not get as many tourists as other regions, so those who do visit may feel they're getting a more "authentic" African experience, especially if you visit the smaller towns in the area. Bukoba and the surrounding area is home to the Haya people.
The most useful language is Swahili but English is also spoken around tourist spots.
The largest airport in the region is Mwanza Airport. There are international flights from Nairobi, Kisumu, Kigali, and Bujumbura as well as domestic flights from Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Kigoma, Arusha, Zanzibar and others.
Alternatively, visitors can fly into Entebbe (Uganda) and then catch a bus to Tanzania (Bukoba) from Kampala to cross the overland into Tanzania. This can actually be a more affordable option, but remember that you will need to pay $50 USD for a Ugandan visa.
Although the ferry (below) is cheaper, there are flights available between Mwanza and Bukoba. There are also flights between Kigoma and Tabora. Flights between Kigoma and Mwanza will begin on August 17, 2011.
The bus stations in Bukoba and Mwanza keep them well-connected to the rest of the region, as well as other parts of the country.
The northwest region is known for its excellent natural sites with much less tourists. Lake Victoria itself is a site to see, as it's the largest lake on the continent, the world's second largest freshwater lake, and the world's largest tropical lake. Tanzania's part of the lake is also home to Rubondo Island National Park, a beautiful island where you can see hippos, alligators, and many other animals. Those with an interest in birds will particularly enjoy Rubondo, as it is home to over 400 different bird species. Saa Nane Island ('Eight O'Clock Island' in Swahili) features monkeys, impala (medium sized antelope),and many aquatic animals. There is also the hyrax, a small furry mammal, nearest relative is stated to be the elephant. They are also called rock rabbit or dassie. They look like a robust, oversized guinea pig, or a rabbit with rounded ears and no tail.
Just outside of Bukoba is the site of ancient cave paintings. Within the city is the Kagera Museum, which features information about the local culture and history, along with artifacts. It is one of the few museums in this region. The city is also the seat of the Kiziba Kingdom.
Take a ride into the lush Mara River Wetlands on an airboat. Lots of birds and smoother than the roads!