"Experience the 'Real' Africa in Mwanza" Mwanza by Metten

Mwanza Travel Guide: 72 reviews and 47 photos

Don't let the first impression fool you

Dusty, run down, filthy and uncharming.

This was my first impression of Mwanza when I arrived in April 2003. I was in Tanzania between March and September doing ethnographic field work in Sengerema in Mwanza Region. Mwanza was my first stop before Sengerema and I must say, that I honestly hated it when I first came. The picture changed drastically, though, and Mwanza quickly became my favourite weekend destination and place to unwind.

A typical African City

To the tourist, Mwanza may not seem like a place where you want to spent time when there is so much beauty in the national parks just waiting to be explored, but Mwanza actually has a lot to offer and gives you an idea of what the "real" Africa is about. City-wise that is.

And Mwanza is probably as real as it gets - dirt roads with holes as big as elephants, overcrowded buses, small dukas on every corner, crazy traffic, small bars, people everywhere, vibrant colours, smells and sounds. Mwanza is a typical big city of Tanzania, but is altogether very different from Arusha, Dar and Moshi. It has all the big city features like restaurants, hotels, internet cafes, hospital, big market, bars, clubs, banks and supermarkets, but has a more chaotic and "local" touch to it than the other cities. And that is exactly what makes it charming. Add to that, there are literally no tourists so you have a splendid opportunity to get in contact with people.

Beautiful Surroundings

Mwanza may not be the most pretty city in Tanzania, but the surroundings are absolutely beautiful. Situated on the hilly banks of Lake Victoria with amazing rock formations and green hills and slopes, Mwanza is everything but ugly and dusty.

It is also a good starting point for trips to the beautiful Rubondo Island, wonderful Ukerewe, Uganda and of course the Serengeti. Mwanza really has it all, and is a wonderful place to stay if you want to get a feeling of what the real Africa is about.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:not touristy, wonderful climate, friendly people, excellent opportunity to see different sides of African culture
  • Cons:infrastructure, health hazards, crime
  • In a nutshell:Mwanza has it all
  • Last visit to Mwanza: Sep 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (59)

Comments (14)

  • AixaB's Profile Photo
    Dec 5, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    Hello Metten, I'm planning on travel to Mwanza next year (March-April). I will like to stay there at least 4 weeks, any tip? I'll be traveling by myself, so I don't know if you have any advice for a 24 year-old woman to stay safe during my trip?

  • muguruki's Profile Photo
    Nov 11, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Love the figure hugging mossie net!

  • Jun 18, 2008 at 12:06 AM

    mv nansio is now part of kamanga ferry and doesn't go to ukerewe anymore. And it was build by KFL so all our ships are safe. not just this one

  • Jun 14, 2006 at 1:02 PM

    congulatulation for being curious . some aspects in your comments irritates me, that you failed to connect with the cultural attitudes, typical of any Muzungu generalising/failed to take control/save his/her purpose. Im a Musukuma from Mwanza living in CA

  • Agraichen's Profile Photo
    Sep 13, 2004 at 8:20 PM

    Fantastic descriptions of your travels. Not only interesting but educational. Thanks.

  • joernme's Profile Photo
    Jun 3, 2004 at 6:25 AM

    Mette, great tips on a place that has never been on my mind, but enthusiasm seems to be one of your characteristics and one can really feel it in your page :-) I guess one really has to go to decide if to love or hate travelling in Africa. One day I will.

  • lichinga's Profile Photo
    Jan 18, 2004 at 9:10 AM

    Very interesting tips. It's a pity I did not have time to reach Mwanza, but I still keep it in my wish-list!

  • Jan 15, 2004 at 2:58 AM

    Beautiful page with interesting and useful tips! And yes, photos are excellent:)

  • ettenaj's Profile Photo
    Dec 11, 2003 at 12:29 PM

    Those buses really sound hellish, in a great kind of way though.

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Dec 11, 2003 at 11:34 AM

    Veldig godt! A very nice look at Tanzania on Lake Vic. We know Mwanza intimately through your pages.

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