From Mwanza to Bukoba

The roads heading west from Mwanza to Geita and Biharamulo, then branching northward to Bukoba or westward to the Rwanda border, are generally in poor condition, as are the buses that traverse them. For travellers who are using public transport, and who simply want to get between Mwanza and Bukoba as efficiently as possible, a far better option than bussing it would be to use the overnight ferry service that runs between the two ports four times weekly. You would need to use these roads, however, should you be planning on crossing overland into Rwanda, or on travelling by road to one of the mainland ports from which you can reach Rubondo Island National Park. Overlanders driving between Tanzania and Rwanda or Uganda will also use these roads.

The most significant towns along the road running west from Mwanza are Geita and Biharamulo. Buses do run directly between Mwanza and Biharamulo, a 300km journey that entails a full day on the road, and it would certainly be possible to cover this stretch in a day in a private vehicle. There is, however, much to be said for breaking the journey into 125km and 175km stretches by staying over in Geita. If you’re heading on to Rubondo, the best options are either to fly there from Geita or else to bus on from Geita to Muganza, as covered in greater detail under the section on Rubondo Island National Park on page xxx. Details of travelling between Biharamulo and Bukoba or the Rwanda border are included below. An alternative to bussing along the southern lakeshore would be to catch a ferry from Mwanza to Maisome Island or Nyamirembe, and proceeding overland from there. In mid-2008, however, this service was not operating, check with the port in Mwanza for updates.

 

Geita

The booming town of Geita, which lies about 120km west of Mwanza, has emerged as the lynchpin of Tanzania’s recently revitalised gold mining industry. Tanzania was a minor gold producer in the colonial era, but production ground to a halt in the post-colonial era, to be resuscitated in the 1990s following the discovery of several new seams in Lake Victoria region. In the late 1990s, Tanzania attracted an international gold rush with few modern peers. Exports rocketed from less than US$10 million in 1998 to more than US$100 million in 2001, and the country is now ranked as the continent’s third-largest gold producer after the established giants South Africa and Ghana.

Jointly owned by Ghana’s Ashanti Goldfields and the South African AngloGold Company, the Geita Gold Mine cost US$165 million to construct, and it is reputedly the second largest on the continent outside of South Africa. It was formally opened in August 2000 by President Mkapa, and during the first 18 months of activity, more than 150,000 ounces of gold were extracted. The mine’s reserves are estimated to stand at around 15 million ounces, which at present rates of production should keep it ticking along nicely going for at least another decade. The town of Geita, meanwhile, has grown from being a rather insignificant settlement to probably the twelfth most populous in the country, with a population approaching 150,000 today.

Geita Gold Mine has attracted its far share of controversy during its short existence. Even before the mine was operational, several respected conservation bodies expressed concerns about the potential consequences of toxic sodium cyanide used in the gold extraction process leaking into the Nyamalembo River, which flows through Geita into nearby Lake Victoria. Tundu Lissu, of the US based World Resource Institute described the project as “a disaster in the making”, going on to say that “should any of this cyanide find its way into the lake, then Tanzania will not suffer alone but so will her neighbours and millions of other people”.

These concerns were stoked within months of the mine opening, when villagers in nearby Nyakabale reported several human fatalities and loss of livestock, apparently caused by a toxic substance infiltrating the village’s main water source following heavy rains. The mine has refuted widespread allegations of culpability, and the results of subsequent tests of samples taken from the dead livestock and affected water source have yet to be made public – some sources suggest agricultural pesticide rather than cyanide might have been responsible for the deaths. Whatever the truth of the matter, this much is irrefutable: mistakes happen, sodium cyanide is toxic, and Geita lies a mere 20km from an inland sea whose waters support an estimated 30 million people across three countries.

Another unrelated scandal erupted in 2001, when it emerged that hundreds of people who had been displaced by the construction of the gold mine never received the full agreed compensation payment. It appears that the mining company made the full payment of slightly more than US$5 million to the government officials responsible for co-ordinating individual compensations in 1999. But it has been alleged that somewhere along the line the official books were cooked and an undisclosed proportion of this amount was diverted away from the local people for whom it was intended. A task force appointed by the government’s Prevention of Corruption Bureau government is currently investigating the allegations.

Geita might be two thirds of the way to fulfilling the ‘sex, money and scandal’ criteria that make for a good soap opera, but the town could hardly have less to offer travellers, especially as the substantial expatriate community is based in a discrete mine compound. Still, for travellers heading from Mwanza to Rubondo Island, Rwanda or Bukoba, Geita forms a convenient stopover, linked by regular buses to Mwanza (four to five hours) and plenty of (generally very slow) transport heading further west. There’s no shortage of budget accommodation in Geita. The Africa Inland Church Hostel (tel: 028 252 0029) has been recommended as a clean, basic and peaceful place to sleep over. The Lake View Hotel, under French management, has slightly better rooms but is potentially rowdier, since it’s a favoured drinking hole with miners, with an atmosphere that completes the soap opera trio referred to above. Cheaper guesthouses abound.

 

Biharamulo

In direct contrast to Geita, Biharamulo, roughly 175km to its west, is a former German administrative centre boasting an attractively laid-out, albeit rather rundown, old town centre of shady avenues lined with a few German buildings. In addition to the usual motley collection of central guesthouses, of which the Sunset Inn is about the best, accommodation is available at the Old Boma, on a hilltop about 1km from the town centre. Built in 1890 and recently restored as a guesthouse by a Dutch couple, the Old Boma is a lovely atmospheric retreat, charging around US$10 for a double room.

Biharamulo is the nearest town to the obscure Biharamulo Game Reserve, a 950km2 sanctuary dominated by miombo woodland and situated on the mainland roughly opposite Rubondo Island National Park. The reserve is known for its substantial population of roan antelope, and also supports other large mammals such as elephant, impala and topi, but visitors are thin on the ground and facilities non-existent. The rough road between Biharamulo town and the small lake port of Nyamirembe – the latter accessible by ferry from Mwanza – skirts the southern boundary of the reserve. For permission to visit the game reserve, and any other information, you must first visit the reserve headquarters in Biharamulo town.

 

Muleba and the Bukoba Road

Regular buses run along the 165km road between Biharamulo and Bukoba, taking about six hours or longer, depending on road conditions. One potential stopover is the port of Muleba, which lies about 60km south of Bukoba and is an important depot for coffee grown in hilly vicinity. Ferries between Mwanza and Bukoba stop at Muleba, and regular dalla-dallas between Bukoba and Muleba take about two hours. A scattering of cheap local lodgings includes the Nshamba, Size and Victor Guesthouses.

 (c) Philip Briggs 2009

45 thoughts on “From Mwanza to Bukoba

  1. jamesbrett says:

    I have just moved with a team of four families to Geita town, in order to do sustainable development. Now the totality of the expat community no longer resides inside the mine compound walls. Though there is still not a lot to offer travelers.

    I’m actually writing to help in an update of the travel portion of this page. The road from Mwanza to Bukoba is now almost entirely paved — and is really nice. Leaving Mwanza, one could travel south to a government ferry at Busisi to cross the finger of Lake Victoria, or cross on the Kamanga ferry there in town. Both routes meet in Sengerema, before moving on toward Geita; however I don’t know if there is any rhyme or reason to which ferry a given bus might take.

    From Geita to Bukoba is completely paved at this point. And the road from Sengerema to Geita probably lacks less than 30 kilometers. From Mwanza to Sengerema on the southern route is nearly all paved, while the northern route will take much longer if it is indeed ever paved.

    • Erica Steenvoorden says:

      Hi James,
      I would like to know if you have info on the road from Kigali to Mwanza as well. For instance how long will it take to get there and maybe onwards to the western gate of the Serengeti?
      Thanks

      • philipbriggs says:

        Hi Erica,
        No recent reports on travel from Kigali to Mwanza but it usually takes about two (hard) days on public transport. See also Robert Gude’s comments below, which cover much of the same route. Mwanza to Western Serengeti is a decent road and shouldn’t take more than 4-5 hours, if that. Philip

      • jamesbrett says:

        from kigali to the border of rwanda is about 150k, i think? depending on how you’re traveling, plan on 2-8 hours (the latter being by dala dala, the former in my truck).

        are you driving or riding public transport? because there are a few ways from the border to mwanza. one is through biharamulo, which is some pretty bad dirt for the first hour or hour and a half. then through geita and across the ferry. this way would take me 9 -10 hours (kigali to mwanza), depending on how well i time catching the ferry.

        another is by the main highway all the way to shinyanga (basically) and then up to mwanza. there’s no ferry this way, and paved roads all the way. but it’s a lot more diesel, and i think it took me 11 hours (kig-mwz) the time i did it.

        the third way is to stay on the paved highway longer than the first but shorter than the second. you end up cutting through on a dirt road to where the pavement starts on its way to geita. there’s only dirt for 30 minutes this way, and it’s a good road. you still cross the ferry after going through geita. this way should shave an hour off the first option, making it 8-9 hours.

        there have been some bandits on the paved road between the border and the turnoff to biharamulo (meaning the part of the road you go on, no matter which way you travel). several cars / buses pulled over, robbed, and people killed.

        from mwanza to the western gate of the serengeti is about two hours.

        if you have any more questions, you can put them on here, or email me directly. you can find my address on my blog under ‘partners.’

  2. philipbriggs says:

    That’s good to hear James, feel free to post any other updates for this area – it’s not one that attracts much feedback!

  3. Rupert Gude says:

    I have just done the Mwanza-Bukoba drive in an aged Rav4 going about 80-90kph when possible and it took 8 hours driving. Below are times (not including stops)and journey distance in (km).
    0.00 Take Shinanga road south, reasonable road,turn right at Usagara (26)on relief road, reasonably graded, besides new road that should open in next few months
    0.45 Arrive Ferry to Busisi(36) Tsh 5,000 for car, 300 per person and 500 council tax
    1.00 – 1.25 ferry takes 25 mins , left at half past the hour.
    2.30 to Geita,(120)via Sengerema, excellent new road , still working on sides.
    On right at beginning of Geita 2 new hotels
    Goldbelt Hotel with large ‘beer garden’, fenced reasonable,clean doubles for 20,000. +255737804811,+255759904400
    Also AGIF Hotel
    3.10 Bwanga, (183) still excellent new road,turn right. unpaved road to Biraamulo is straight on
    3.55 Chatto (237)a few pot holes but still generally excellent condition.
    On the right(after NMB bank)is a new pub with thatched roof, did not stop but seemed good place
    4.05 Nyamirembe (259)
    4.25 Muganza (278) This is the new landing and setting off place for Rubondo. There is no where secure at the port to leave a car so our tour operator last year left his at a church about 2 km before the port.
    5.05 (315) the road goes to to top of the escarpment and immediately after 7 concrete upended culvert section is a flat area to turn right and there ia a fabulous view point over the Lake and islands ( vies with irente view point!). It is on the left just after the 2 chevron signs coming the other way.
    At the bottom of the hill over the first bridge over the side ditch and down a lane (unmarked)towards the lake is a small RC mission which has sodas, beers sometimes and patch of grass besides the lake to sit under an umbrella. It may develop into proper place as road improves.
    The road skirts around the east and north edges of the National park going through the park for a few kms.
    5.15 Join Biharamulo to Bukoba road (330). This road is unpaved and in poor condition to Muleba
    However can be negotiated by ordinary car.
    6.45 Muleba (362) new road opened in last month in middle of town, stretch north due to be opened in next few weeks.
    8.00 Bukoba (435) excellent road with only one pot hole.
    The road from Chatto to the top of escapment and from Muleba to kemondo Bay is stunning. It has virtually no traffic and looks down on the blue blue water of Lake Victoria. It reminded me a bit of the road down the Adriatic coast in Croatia or by an Italian Lake except no traffic.
    North of Katoke on has on the left the Rubya/Ndolage escarpment on the left with the Ngoni valley at the base and on the right Lake Victoria with the islands scattered all over. One of my favourite roads in all TZ.
    By the way Muleba ia the administrative HQ of the distict,has NMB bank but no port. The port is at Kemondo Bay about 25 km south of Bukoba and the ferry calls there about an hour before or after Bukoba. On the trip bukoba mwanza it is well worth while staying up to watch the loading of the bananas (matoke). The MV Victoria is covered from bow to stern with bananas.
    The coffee trade has petered out due to low price.

    • Inese says:

      Rupert,

      this detailed post of yours saved us some 300 km of driving!

      We travelled from Bujumbura in Burundi to Serengeti park entrance near Mwanza through Shinyanga because so instructed by every of the local Tanzanians we met on the way. Obviously we had not spent enough time searching on the internet whether there is or there isn’t a ferry across Victoria lake in Busisi. The two Tanzania maps we had were completely silent about it… For the way back we spent a bit more time on internet and found this post which allowed us to get back to Bujumbura from Masai Mara park in two days instead of three.

      Well, thanks to your post and us following it we now know – there is a ferry! And for a very very reasonable price indeed. Three beers cost us more than ferry tickets for three of us and our Prado🙂. Besides – the new road which is March was still under construction is almost ready, only the last 100 m to the ferry were not ready yet.

      Best regards,
      Inese

      • Marc says:

        We are going to make the trip to Arusha from Bujumbura and from Western Mwanza to Bujumbura in a couple of months. I’m curious if you could let me know your routing and where you stopped? Any advice for the roads?

  4. Felicia says:

    Hi- I will be in Bwindi for gorilla trekking and would like to make it to Mwanza from there. I plan to go over land from Bwindi–> Bukoba, ten via night ferry Bukoba–> Mwanza. Do you think this is feasible in one day i.e. leave Bwinidi early in the morning, arrive Mwanza early the following morning?

    Also, do you know if it is easy to get public transport from Bwinidi to Bukoba?

    Thanks!

    • philipbriggs says:

      Hi Felicia, I cover the transport options for Uganda in my Bradt guide to that country, but I think it would be very ambitious to get from Bwindi to Mwanza in one day on public transport. I’d allow one day Bwindi to Masaka, one day Masaka to Bukoba, so minimum two days, and you’ll still need to be lucky with the ferry as it doesn’t travel every day! Good luck, Philip

    • jamesbrett says:

      felicia, is your goal to take the boat or to make it to mwanza in a day? i’ve taken the boat mwanza to bukoba, but i don’t know when it runs, so i’d say it’s pretty risking counting on it being when you want it to be.

      and i have no idea where bwindi is, but i wonder if it’s not a better idea just to go through kigali and across the border into tanzania at rusumo falls? i don’t know if you can find a bus in bwindi going through the border or if you’d have to change in kigali, but i bet you could make it to mwanza by the next day at lunch — just maybe not early morning like you would coming off the boat.

      but that way you don’t end up getting stuck in bukoba for a couple of nights. of course a bus from bukoba to mwanza these days probably only takes 7 hours (my guess)

  5. Felicia says:

    Thanks for the replies Philip and James!

    My main goal is to make it to Mwanza/Arusha as easily and quickly as possible to start a safari in TZ.

    We’re on a pretty tight schedule because my brother’s only visiting for a short time so we’re trying to find a balance between our budget, time and the most interesting trip (it’s his first time on the continent!).

    Philip: does this sound like a realistic itinerary to you? —

    Overland and ferry:
    Bus from Bwindi to Masaka, (one day) –> Bus Masaka to Bukoba (one day) –> Overnight ferry from Bukoba to Mwanza (depending on if we make it on the days the ferry’s running- we may take the bus if we miss the ferry (1 day)).

    This is the option I prefer (I’d love to take the ferry) but this route seems very challenging if we’re working on a tight schedule.

    Option 2: Overland via Nairobi
    Bus from Bwindi to Kampala (one day) –> Bus from Kampala to Arusha via Nairobi (~1 day?)

    This is the easiest, most straightforward and reliable option. I would just take the opportunity to see more of the countries (ie option 1) if it was going to take the same amount of time as option 1. We’d take Scandinavia Express Services for the route Kampala-Nairobi-Arusha-Moshi:
    KAMPALA–13h00
    NAIROBI–00h00
    ARUSHA–07h00

    I was hoping to start a safari in Mwanza then head to Arusha where we would catch the bus then ferry to Zanzibar–that way we don’t start in Arusha and have to backtrack at the end. Not too sure how easy this will be–do you know anything about starting a safari from Mwanza?

    Option 3: Via air. I’d like to keep the price down but would be willing to pay for a resonable flight (300 USD or less?)if it will dramatically cut down our travel time. I’m looking for tickets from Entebbe to Arusha. Do you have any recommendations on who offers the cheapest flight?

    Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated!

    Cheers,

    FC

  6. philipbriggs says:

    Hi Felicia,

    Taking everything into consideration, your best option might be to bus through Kenya to the east side of Lake Victoria and arrange a safari through Serengeti Stopover, which is near the entrance gate to Serengeti on the road between Musoma and Mwanza.

    See http://www.serengetistopover.com/ – there are more details about this in the guidebook.

    Otherwise, I think the route through Nairobi is most realistic.

    Best ask a travel agent in KLA about flights –

    Cheers, Philip

  7. Rupert Gude says:

    Hi Felicia,
    I do not know about the Bwindi to Masaka bit but I have lived near Bukoba for the last year.
    There is at least one daily bus from Kampala to Bukoba. Gateways leave Kamapala at 11am and stop at Shell petrol station at about 12.30 arriving in Bukoba about 4pm.
    You could get a Ugandan bus to Mutakula on the border (2 hours) walk through and get a daladala on the other side.
    The ferry leaves at 9 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. MV Victoria has comfortable first class double bunks, and adequate second class single sex 6 berth second class. If Mv Victoria out of action the smaller MV Serengeti substitutes with only 4 cabins. Go straight down to the harbour to buy your tickets (taxi Tsh 3000) then relax on the beach with an early meal (at least one hour preparation time)at the Yasila or Spice beach Hotel. There is a restaurant and bar on the Victoria. There are 3 flights a day to mwanza at Tsh 110,000 if all fails.

    Ideally I would advise overnighting in Bukoba as it is a delightful town, unhurried, good walks and very welcoming people with no hassle.

    Arrange your safari beforehand and they will meet you off the ferry at Mwanza at 6.30am and go straight off to Serengeti. Look around and also consider serengetiexpedition.com. They will drop you off at Karatu for onward bus to Arusha or take you direct to Arusha.

  8. Felicia says:

    Thanks for the great information!

    Do you have any suggestions for good low budget (camping) safari companies in Mwanza?

    I have the Bradt guide for TZ but most of the information is about starting from Arusha.

    Thanks!

  9. Rupert Gude says:

    Is there such a thing as budget camping in the northern safari circuit? We went with serengeti expedition of Mwanza and everything worked out very well (we took our own Rav 4 alongside their Toyota Landcruiser as did not want to risk Ngorogoro crater with our low clearance.)
    Try some of the Arusha safari companies for quotes since there is no intrinsic difference if they are doing a one way safari of having the unaccompanied bit(ie crossing the serengeti without guests) at the beggining rather than the end.

  10. quality mark says:

    Thanks for great up to date info , was last in Mwanza in Dec 2007 and have good friends working in Geita. Hope to be back.

  11. Stephen Okoth says:

    Kigali – Mwanza is about 510 km and i have enjoyed using the road from January 2008 when it was the best alternative for me to travel to Southwestern Kenya.

    Kigali-Rusumo is 130kms and doe to speed limits can take between 2 and 3 hours.

    Rusumo to Nyakinazi takes between 1 to 2 hours drive. Public transport is also available but can take longer than 2 hours.

    Nyakinazi-Geita can also take between 1 and 2 hours drive. The road is good and you can move as fast as 150 kmh. Geita – Sengerema is not fully tarmacked and can take about one hour’s drive. From Sengerama to ferry crossing takes less than one hour and the ferry crossing takes about 40 minutes.

    I like the accomodation in Geita and whenever I run late, I prefer stopping over in Geita. It is good to stoppever to avoid driving on the roads late in the afternoons especially when coming to Rusumo from Mwanza.

    It is poosible with public transport to spend less than a day between Mwanza and Rusumo. With private transport, it is possible to spend between 3 and 5 hours.

    1

  12. Vanessa says:

    Was thinking of going public transport from kigale to mwanza. Can anyone provide advice and is there still risk of banditry?

  13. Hirundo John says:

    Thanks Rupert; Quite informative. We intend to travel from Kalisizo (Uganda) to Bukoba then ferry Mwanza in our own two Ipsam vehicles then back form Mwanza to bukoba mutukula and Back in Uganda. We are a team of 20. Can any one tell us if the ferry can carry the two vehicles from Bukoba to Mwanza and if so at what cost? 2ndly, are the bandits still a reality?

    • Dr Rupert Gude says:

      Hi Hirundo,
      I travelled on the ferry several times but never saw a car go on. However I did hear about them being transported. I am now in Vanuatu in the South Pacific so cannot give upto date info nor about bandits. The road deviates to the lake before the forest so less chance of banditry.
      I imagine the road south from Bukoba must be completed so would favour driving round all in one day. Those who want could take the ferry overnight and be met in Mwanza by the drivers. Try to get a first class cabin booked before the trucks leave esp as that would mean at least 8 double cabins and I think it only has 10 first class in total though single sex second class 6 berthers quite adequate.

  14. dylan says:

    hey Guys!

    I was just wondering if anyone could advise me on the best way to get to Biharamulo…? I will be travelling alone from Mwanza and I will be taking public transport, I figure i will break the journey up into two days and stay overnight in Geita, although I’m not certain of anything yet, I will be travelling around the first week in january.. It would be great if anyone could help and let me know how the public transport is running and if there is the possibility to take the ferry service for a part of the way…

    Many Cheers

  15. Dr Rupert Gude says:

    I am sure you can do the trip Mwanzwa to Biharamulo in one day, see my post March 2010. There should be a regular bus service. The normal lake victoria ferry will not connect you directly but why not take a trip across the Lake to Bukoba and get the bus down from there!
    Overnight ferry from Mwanza leaving Sunday Tuesday and Thursday (this is all from March 2010 as I am now working in Vanuatu in the south pacific!!) arriving early morning, walk along the shore for half a kilometre and book into the Yasila hotel for 2 nights or three, right on the shores of lake Victoria with tables on the beach or the slightly more noisy, scruffy but cheaper one next door. Watch the sunrise over the Lake, Enjoy Bukoba for the day, check on transport and buy ticket then travel down to Biharamulo next day. Should take about 4 hours.
    Geita is a bit of a dump, mining town, a few gated hotels (we only stopped for lunch) but really nothing compared to the delights of Bukoba.

  16. Karolyn says:

    I am coordinating a trip with ten participants that will spend time in Rwanda and Tanzania this upcoming March. We are currently looking at two options to travel between the two countries:

    1. Begin in Kibungo. Drive west to Kigali. Fly to Kilimanjaro (KIA). Meet up with safari company there. Cost is $305 per person. Travel time being an estimated six hours.
    2. See what the cost and time length for a road trip from Kibungo (or Kigali) to Arusha, Tanzania. It seems that the road conditions can cause a huge variance in time length for this option and we are unsure about any cost estimtates.

    Thoughts?

  17. Dr Rupert Gude says:

    $300 seems remarkably cheap for a flight to Kili, and I think I would take that instead of waiting for an hour or two for a bus at Kigali, having to use pretty awful toilets on the way, unknown conditions between border and Birhamamulo and the new road to Geita, the discomfort of riding in an African bus with little leg room and appalling suspension, the danger of a bus with 10 westerners on board being held up and the general danger of riding in a bus which is driven too fast by crazed and tired drivers. I am not sure the countryside outside Rwanda is worth the view and would use the extra few days to visit Moshi and foothills of Kili rather than a few more days safari.

  18. Stephen Okoth says:

    Rwanda to Arusha, you are better off flying from Kigali. The best route by road is Kigali-Nairoibi-Arusha. But if you want to see a bit of western Tanzania, you travel by road from Kibungo through Rusumu border to Biharamulo-Geita-Sengerema-Mwanza then fly off from Mwanza to Kilimanjaro.

  19. Dr Rupert Gude says:

    following Stephen’s advice — if you want to see Serengeti and other parks take your safari from Mwanza and get them to drop you off at Arusha.

  20. Emmanuel Mugarura says:

    Hello,

    Am planning on traveling to Moshi, Tanzania from Kigali by private car. From online research, i have discovered the distance is about 830 km for a one way Journey. which would slightly be more than a day of travel, with a rest in between. am thinking that its more cost effective than flying, since it would cost me a half, with a company of two, unless there are associated costs am not seeing (only considered gas for my car)

    i wonder if any one has taken the journey recently so as to advise on the general road condition and any other things to put in mind.

    I plan on traveling. in around 20 days, and hence i would really be greatful for any feed back

    • Rupert Gude says:

      By Bus or your own transport?
      By bus, go to Bukoba on the daily bus, used to leave about 10 am , arrive about 4pm, ideally stay couple of nights to enjoy Bukoba and then catch the three times a week ferry over night, leaving at 9pm and arriving 6am. (Book your tickets as soon as you arrive or if you want to make sure of getting them in advance try going through Kiroyera tours of Bukoba though they charge a significant commission. First class double bunk cabins are very comfortable, second class 6 bunks, single sex are comfortable) Alternatively fly Bukoba to Mwanza for one hour.
      No need to go to Nairobi via Kenya etc,? Doesn’t make sense.
      By car either drive to Bukoba (one day) and spend a couple of nights there enjoying this lovely town on Lake Victoria and then drive to Mwanza as written in my entry 11 March 2010.
      The alternative is drive to Jinja which is also a lovely though somewhat bigger town, then through Kenya. This road is very busy and dangerous from traffic, Take the back road to Jinja Kenyan roads were not pleasant to drive on and you will have to pay visa fees. Road from Tanzanian border is a joy, smooth and empty, and do not forget to stop off at Musoma on your way, a delightful Tanzanian town, well worth 2 nights. Bus from Kisumu to Mwanza was not a realistic option two years ago.

  21. JamesBrett says:

    arusha to kigali is a breeze these days. it’s paved from arusha to babati, west to singida, then north until the turn to go through kahama / runzewe to the rwanda border at rusumo falls. it’s almost all paved now (actually, it probably is all paved if you don’t turn west at nzega but continue on towards shinyanga first). i’m guessing you can do all the way from arusha to the rwanda border in 12-14 hours comfortably in a private vehicle. it’s another 2 1/2 hours to kigali.

  22. Jonathan Ayres says:

    Hi,,

    I’m travelling from Kigoma to Kigali in July. What is the best route and is it possible to complete in my private vehicle within one day? How is the border – how much time should I roughly allow?

    Any feeedback would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Jonathan

    • JamesBrett says:

      Jonathan, I wrote a super long comment and it wouldn’t post, so I saved it in an email. I also feel bad posting such a long write-up and directions in comment form. Anyway, this is the (extremely) abbreviated version.

      You can do it in a day. Depending on how fast you drive and how many stops you make, it’ll likely be 10-11 hours, with a fastest possible time of 8.5 hours. A little over half your total drive time is dirt.

      If you want the long version, send me an email; you can find my address on my blog under ‘partners.’

  23. Dicker v Brandis says:

    Hi does the Boma guest house still operate and where can we find their current rates.

    Tks and regards Dicker

  24. Ian Nyaga ( Nairobi Kenya) says:

    Hi ,

    I am about to do a project with the Wold Bank and would like to be adviced IF there are any Road Transport Companies ( names & Contacts Please) from Mwanza to Nansio & Musoma and also advice on the State of the roads.. I will Appreciate… Thank u!

  25. stephen omondi okoth says:

    Mwanza – Musoma road has been a good road and currently being redone with a number of diversions. I frequently use the road betweewanza and Musuma/Sirare and I like it. It is served by many PSV buses from around 6.00 am to 6.00pm.

  26. leonidah ososi says:

    i would like to travel from mwanza to bukoba by ferry day time how long wil it take and ihav my vehicle how much wil it cost me a29 seater mini bus with family members

  27. Rupert Gude says:

    As far as I know the boats carrying cars sailing from Mwanza to Bukoba are very irregular. Far easier is the overland route round Geita and following a route I outlined a few years ago. The route is almost all paved. You can cover it in a day.

  28. Johan says:

    Hi, would like to know if you could make it from Mwanza to Kigali thought ferry at Busisi in one day in a Land Cruiser?
    Also – is the section between Bwanga and Diobahika paved now?
    Thanks ….

  29. Samantha Wong says:

    Hello, we are currently in Biharamulo where there is a crop of new guesthouses – we are staying at The New Aspen Hotel which is excellent value. Doubles are Tsh30,000 (USD 15) including ensuite bathroom and breakfast which is the same price as what the Old Boma is charging for camping! Their restaurant offers the best goat in town at only just above street food prices. I have to say the street food is very atmospheric and worth a try especially in the evening on weekends when much of the town socialises.

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