News from Musoma

We have just spent a very pleasant weekend in Musoma and I am writing up our comments.

First we found it a delightful place to visit. It has a laidback independent air about it. There is gentle prosperity with everyone going about their business with a multitude of little shops. The town is easy to walk around and generally clean. We had very little hassle and people were generally very polite and helpful

The market hidden next to the bus station is well stocked. Amongst the usual things we found green beans and Chinese lettuce.

We enjoyed the walk down the peninsula and around the hill with the old German boma, the district headquarters  renovated in garish black and white.

 

We stayed at the New Tembo Beach Hotel (14,000 TSh for double residents rates or $30 nonresident). It is not really a hotel but more rooms,campsite with bar/canteen.

Beautifully situated on the west side of Mara bay.

Lovely pristine beach with shrubs planted on edge.

Very ordinary site, sand with camping ablution block in middle with 7 roomed accommodation block at one end and clean functional bar/canteen at other end, excellent Lake views.

If one sits under the shade trees and looks out to the Lake it is beautiful with cool breeze and lovely sunset. Food was good — fish with spicy dressing and rice (alternative is chicken and chips).

Cheap, cheerful and lovely situation if you look out onto the lake

They are in the process of building a double story accommodation block with 5 rooms on the ground floor. Don’t hold your breath!

We hired bikes from here at the exorbitant rate of 12,000Tsh each. Good way to see a bit more but seats were indescribably uncomfortable as were hard thin racing seats.

 

Just north is a building site with smart walls and entrance gate but no building yet in the site! Just north of that is the Silver Sands Inn.

It looked rather run down, a lorry was being repaired in the grounds and the casurina trees gave too much shade. The recreation area by the beach was spoilt by having a 4 foot fence round it so view over lake not pleasant. 

 

At the tip of the peninsula is a  development to create Matvilla camping ground. Splendid location. It will be a beautiful development if it comes off. They have smart round bar with little tables dotted among the rocks. No rooms as yet but have ablution block (not visited). We were told they hope to have camping equipment for hire when fully functioning.

In town is one of the ugliest buildings in East Africa, the Matvilla Hotel (matvilla_hotel@yahoo.com). No obvious entrance to it and loud music coming from it. Situated on corner of  Mukendo Road and Mwigobero Street opposite the new Barclays bank. Large garden behind it with tables and chairs. No one in it except few lads playing pool.

We had a look at the Peninsula Beach hotel and beach resort (further south round Mara bay turning right after the airstrip). Rather faded even though not so old. The beach resort has some rather ugly metal huts as twins and some  rather more attractive wooden ones dotted around the rocks under shade. We did not go in but windows appeared very small. Huge assembly hall/function room, beautifully designed but as one exit was blocked by an old bath not sure when last used. Large swimming pool was empty. Altogether seemed rather a failed enterprise.

Had lunch at the Salamander Hotel – fastest meal yet for our 6 months in TZ. No sooner than we sat down than had service and ordered juice. Arrived in 1 minute, then ordered fish and rice and after brief discussion that fish with sauce was better order than grilled fish it arrived within 2 minutes on large plate with mountain of rice and good sauce, about Tsh2500 each. toilets behind appearnew but still need a roof and doors. A piece of corrugated iron is provided to block views but no means of flushing.

Next day we had lunch at Afrilux and as not hungry and wanted quick snack we ordered chicken sandwich and spring roll. It took 2 hours! After 1 hour we enquired and were fobbed off, after 1 and half hours as we threatened to leave they admitted that they had no chicken and the chef had gone out to get some. It was good when it arrived but ….! Toilets spotless.

We did eat there the next night as wanted a curry. Tasted good at TSh6000 though they got the wrong dish and gave the wrong change.

The other place we visited was the Musoma Club, a very pleasant quiet place near the air terminal, around the side of the hill. This dates from colonial times and my wife, who was here aged six, tells me it looks virtually unchanged but a bit smarter! We did not eat but I imagine it has the usual chicken/fish and chips/rice.

There seemed to be 3 internet sites, one at the Post Office with about 4-5 stations and flat screens but closed as Easter  weekend. One opposite Matvilla Hotel in Mwigobero Street with about 8 stations but charging Tsh1300 an hour and one opposite Matvilla Hotel in Mukendo Road.

We travelled from Mwanza by Mohammed Trans, very comfortable, good road and just over 3 hours. (TSh 5000 each way). Back by Nyshambe , more squashed  5 across but good driver and again just over 3 hours. The buses start from Buzuruga station. We paid tsh7000 for a taxi into town but judging by the alacrity in which he took our fare and evicted other passengers I imagine we paid over the odds, but it was raining.

Other detail is that one can only buy ferry tickets Mwanza/Bukoba at Mwanza and Bukoba/Mwanza at Bukoba, ie no return ticket and it appears one can book the 1st class cabins only 10 days ahead (although not sure if this is a deal between the clerk and local travel agents!). Kiroyera tours of Bukoba charge a hefty commission of $5 a ticket Bukoba/Mwanza and $10 a ticket Mwanza/bukoba (almost a third of the cost of the ticket)

 

Verdict on Musoma – delightful Tanzanian town in which to spend a couple of days and the views of the Lake are beautiful. A good place for a rest. Pity about the bilharzias.

(As always in Tanzania, what one experiences is what one experiences and it may be totally different for someone else!)

Rupert Gude

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