Kigoma is a city in Tanzania. Beautifully situated on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Capital of the Western Region. Main railway terminus on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Important harbour. Population of 211.566 (2012).
The city has little infrastructure. Its roads are still mostly unpaved, electricity and water supply are erratic.
The small Kigoma Airport is in the eastern suburbs and has services from Dar es Salaam, organization at the airport is very simple.
Return flights between Dar es Salaam and Kigoma are between 550,000-600,000 tzs, with one way just over half that. Precision Air and Air Tanzania fly on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun. Times vary, and can be subject to change up to and including on the day of the flight (Mar 2018).
Tanzania Railway offers a train connection from Dar es Salaam via Dodoma and Tabora to Kigoma, the journey takes two nights from Dar es Salaam (40-48 hours) and one night from cities further inland. Three classes are available. If you are going over night a first class ticket is definitely recommend. You get a two person compartment which you can lock from inside the cabin - but not from the outside. The condition of the compartments is not too good, though they haven't been maintained for a long time. Price per person: TZS 76.100 first class (October 2020). Local food and drinks for a cheap price are available in the train or at one of the several stops.
Buses leave from Dar es Salaam daily from Ubungo terminal at 6am, arriving the next day between 8am and 12pm dependent on road conditions. Tickets are 60,000 tzs. There are also direct buses from most other cities in Tanzania including: Dodoma, Tabora, Mpanda, Mwanza (all daily) Arusha, Mbeya (2-3times/week).
As of July 2019 it is possible to get from Kigali (Rwanda) to Kigoma in one very long day (19 hours of travel). Trinity Bus leaves Kigali every day at 3 am and will drop you off at Nyakanazi Junction (Tanzania) around 11 am. There you can buy a single ticket to Kigoma from the booking office of Casanblanca Travel for 20,000 Tsh. Connections are surprisingly efficient and well organized. If the next bus you catch doesn’t go all the way to Kigoma, your ticket will still be honored by all the other bus companies. I only had to wait 10-15 minutes for a connecting bus. You will probably have to change buses in Kibondo, then in Kasulu. Each time the connection is practically immediate.
The ancient MV Liemba, built in 1913 in Germany, used to play up and down Lake Tanganyika between Kigoma and Mpulungu on the southern shores of the lake in Zambia, stopping at several cities along the coast - but has been out of service since 2018 and is not expected to resume until the end of 2021, if ever. There are both first, second and third class onboard. (For more information see "Get out")
Driving between Kigoma and Dar es Salaam is possible, with about 250km of non-tarmac road if going direct (total distance ~1200 km). Journey time is between 17 and 22 hrs.
Use Bajajis (Tuk-Tuks) or Piki Pikis (motorbike taxi) . Within the city limits do not pay more than TZS1,000.
A Piki Piki from the train station to Jacobsen's Beach costs TZS3,000.
If you're going to Kibirizi a Piki Piki costs TZS2,000 if you're starting at the train station or at the market.
An alternative are the Dalla Dallas (minibuses, normaly very crowded). At the Dalla Dalla stand directly at the train station you can find Dalla Dallas going to Ujiji, Kartonga (in direction to Jacobsen's Beach), Kibirizi and some more places. They are usually cheaper than Piki Pikis or Bajajis but not that fast.
- Ujiji, the nearby former Arab slave trading settlement, the famous meeting place of Stanley and Livingstone. The Livingston Memorial is a small exhibition but worth a visit once you're in Kigoma. Price for Residents TZS11,000 ; Price for non-residents TZS23,000, 10times the pirce that Tanzanians have to pay. Be prepared that payment can make only by Credit Card or Phone-money. You can get there by catching a dala dala to Ujiji (400 shilling) and get out at the local bus station. Walk the main road to the left for about 50 meters, take the first cobblestone road to to the right and then the first one to the left - the museum is a 10 minutes walk straight ahead in the direction of the lake then. To get back to Kigoma, take a bus to Kartonga from the bus station.
- Gombe National Park for chimpanzee viewing
- Lake Tanganyika - some beach-bars with nice views, head southwest from the railway station
- Gombe National Park - Chimpanzee Viewing. The permit is $118 for 24 hours ($59 for non-citizen residents,TSH 10,000 for TZ citizens). Fees must be paid by credit/debit card. On top of the park entry permit you will then need to pay a guiding fee of $20 (plus tips for trackers/guides around TSH 20,000 per person). The only way to reach the park is by boat. Public water taxi from Kigoma to Gombe National Park takes 4 hours, costs $3.50 each way. However, it is worth remembering that the public boats can be overcrowded and potentially dangerous. Private boats can be hired directly from the park ($354 round trip, $377 if returning the next day) or through locals and hotels (prices around $200-$250 round trip) and take around 2hrs to reach the park. These prices are per boat, so the more people you share the boat between, the lower the price per person. Overnight accommodation in the park can be reserved by contacting the park authority directly.
- The market in the center of town is small and not too vibrant (perhaps it's because it is the low season?)
- Swim in the lake - super warm and clear jade color water
- Mahale Mountains National Park - Chimpanzee trekking and a most secluded getaway.
- Sun City, (On Lumumba Rd, close to the CRDB bank). Small tanzanian restaurant. Offers typical tanzanian food (Pilau, Chicken, Chips, Soups, Beans). Breakfast (Chai) is also available (Chai tea, Chapatti, Mandasi, Omelett). Staff is very friendly and fast. They speak a little bit english, enough that you can order and pay.
- Kigoma catering, food and supplies, (On Lumumba Rd, 200m behind the market if you're looking from the train station). Tanzanian restaurant. Offers typical tanzanian food (Chicken, Chips, Soups, Rice dishes, Ugali dishes). Breakfast (Chai) is also available (Chai tea, Chapatti, Mandasi, Omelett, etc.). A dilivery service ist available. You need to pay via Mpesa. For menu card and more information about the delivery contact the staff. The staff is speaking english.
- Sonza wileme shop, (On Lumumba Rd, Opposite of the Train station, directly at the Dalla Dalla Station). A small shop that offers some cake and nice mandasi, but their main focus is on drinks. They serve very good fresh juice (for example pineapple passion juice or sugar can juice) and milk drinks. The "bar tender" is very friendly and can speak a bit english.
- You can find several stands with local food. Take care that they cook everything well done, than it's very delicious and you don't have stomach problems afterwards.
- Uniq pub, (On your left as you leave town towards Hilltop hotel, opposite the halotel compound). Restaurant which serves drinks and specializes in bbq pork. You can normally get served relatively quickly, and the food is good.
- Green view, (Up mjewema hill). Has some reasonable food options and drinks at good prices. Burgers, currys, etc.
- Coast view, (Up Mjewema hill, take the left turn after the power station on the road to Hilltop hotel and follow it to the top.). Good view of the lake with drinks and food, though food can take a long time to get made so be prepared to wait.
- Bangwe Beach, (between Lake Tanganyika Hotel and Kigoma Hilltop Hotel). Nice "Beach Club" run by the prison for extra income directly at the Lake Tanganyika, you can swim and enjoy the great view to Kibirizi. Some local food and drinks for a small price are available (Chips Maiai TZS2,000, beer TZS2,500). There is also a dance floor and a pool billard table. It's open the whole day. You will meet mainly local people here. On Friday nights it is normally quite full from sunset to 10pm
- Sandra Bar & Restaurant, (close to the train station in direction to Tanganyika). Small "Club" with a dance floor, pool billard and a bar. During the day they serve local food.
- Sonza wileme shop, (On Lumumba Rd, Opposite of the Train station, directly at the Dalla Dalla Station). A small shop that offers very good fresh juice (for example pineapple passion juice or sugar can juice) and milk drinks. You can also get some cake and nice mandasi there. The "bar tender" is very friendly and can speak a bit english.
- Golden Beach/Paradise Beach, On Ujiji beach (on the way to Jacobsen beach turn left at the top of the hill after the turn off to Hilltop Hotel and then it's about 1km down that road). Two beach bars with some basic food and good atmosphere on the beach. Pretty empty most of the time, Sunday afternoon/evening they get a bit more packed.
- Metro pub, (Turn left after 50m as you leave the main train station round about towards Hilltop hotel). Pub which sells bbq goat (mbuzi) and chicken (kuku). Live music at night time.
There are many guesthouses available throughout the town ranging from 5,000-80,000 tzs with quality to match. Good midrange (~40,000 tzs) is Green view or Leaders lodge which are in Mjewema.
- St. Martha Nzimano, (On Kiezya Rd), (hamenyande`at´yahoo.com), . GPS coordinates: -4,873570, 29,631475. Basic clean accomodation with good value for the money. Run by the diocese of Kigoma Community Centre. Currently closed for renovation (Oct 2014), check via mail before getting there. Double room from TZS 25,000.. (-4,873570,29,631475)
- Lake Tanganyika Hotel, (Just off Stanley Rd), ☎ +255-282803052 ([email protected], fax: +255-282803051), . A new (opened in 2000) and modern hotel on the shore of Lake Tanganyika at the southern outskirts of Kigoma. Clean, comfortable with a bar that serves simple but good food (all meals are priced at TZS18,000). The Spaghetti Bolognese are the best option. The bar lacks Tonic Water and Bitter Lemon. If you ask nicely you can bring your own softdrinks and mix with their alcohol. Also they did not have ice cubes nor offer cocktails. Double room around USD80.
- Jakobsen Beach & Guesthouse ([email protected]), Kigoma (past Katonga fishing village), . For peace and quiet. It's located in a nice bay. Zebras and Vervet Monkeys are often arround. Different accomodation are available: Cottages, big safari tents with bed, normal tents and a campsite if you bring your own tent. Self-catering, at the reception you can buy some basic ingredients like Pasta, some cans, spices, etc. About 6km from Kigoma (15 minutes). $20.
- A guest house close to Air Tanzania's main office. Spacious and clean. Single room is $10. There's a restaurant next door with good food. A meal is about $3
- Sanganigwa Volunteer Guest House, Lumumba Street - Kigoma, Tanzania, ☎ Italy: +39 3925729715 / Kigoma: +255 767492335, +255 282802922 ([email protected]), . Run by the Orphanage Sanganigwa Children’s Home, offers 2 quadruple rooms and 3 double rooms, all with private bathroom. The guest house is provided with solar panels for electricity and free wi fi connection. A minimum donation of 20 US$ per person is required, including breakfast. Other meals extra on request. The donation is entirely in support of the Orphanage.
The MV Liemba sails in direction Mpulungu (Zambia) and has a very erratic schedule. It usually leaves every second Wednesday. Non-residents have to pay in USD. The trip to Mpulungu (max. distance) costs USD 105 for a first class cabin. Tickets can be bought at the harbour (north of the Lake Tanganyika Hotel). The ticketing office opens on Monday before departure. Currently it is being maintained and so is not going, this will likely be until at least Jul 2018 (Mar 2018).
As of July 2019 the boat is not operating, harbor officials told me they’re hoping service would resume “next year” (so don’t count on it).
Buses leave from the main bus station on Kasulu rd and typically leave at 6am to all the major destinations. You can purchase tickets at many places around town or at the bus station itself. The booking office for one company Adventure Bus, can be found on the Lumumba Rd 400m above the market on the right side of the road.
To get to Burundi, take a boda boda to the roundabout near Mwandiga (GPS -4.839229, 29.658594) and flag down a shared taxi to Manyovu (TZS 5000). Get out at the Manila market (GPS 4.437297, 29.782071). From there, it is a short trip by motorcycle (TZS 1000) or half an hour's walk to the Tanzanian border post.
Please note that direct buses from Kigoma to Burundi may resume after the COVID-19 related travel restrictions will be eased.