Mwanza is a city in Northwest Tanzania on the southern edge of Lake Victoria. Your main reason for coming here would likely be en route to Rwanda or Uganda. The city received some international attention after the controversial documentary Darwin's Nightmare, which is about the trade in the Nile Perch, centered in this city.
- 1 Mwanza International Airport (MWZ IATA). Flights from Dar es Salaam, Bukoba, Kigoma, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, Nairobi. On international arrival, you can easily obtain a visa for (US$50).
- There are daily buses from Mwanza going to and from Dar es Salaam. Transport company Shabibi bus lines are one of best and reliable choices. The journey takes around 17 hours to reach Dar es Salaam and the fare is TSh45,000. you could do a stopover in Dodoma which is around a 9-hour bus ride from Mwanza. There is a paved road from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam via Shinyanaga.
- There are daily buses to the borders of Burundi (Kabanga) and Rwanda (Busoro). from Nyegezi bus station 10 km south of Mwanza
- There are daily buses going to Tabora 6 hours, Bukoba 7 hours, Musoma 4 hours, Kigoma 10 hours.
- From Mwanza to the Kenya border at Isibania is 278 km and takes 5 hours by bus. There are daily Modern coast express buses to and from Kenya.
Tanzania Railways has services from Dar es Salaam via Tabora several days a week, departing from Dar at 9PM. The trip to takes around 40 hours. The 1st class two-berth sleeper fare to Dar is TSh75,000. There are also 2nd class six-berth sleepers and 3rd class seats on the train. At Tabora it's possible to change trains for Mpanda and Kigoma.
The small 2 Mwanza railway station is centrally located.
From Bukoba: After several years out of service, the refurbished ferry between Mwanza and Bukoba has resumed operation under the name MS New Victoria in June 2020. The timetable remains the same as in previous years: the ferry departs Bukoba every Monday, Wednesday, Friday evening around 21:00 and reaches Mwanza the next day in the morning. As of November 2021 adults pay TSh16,000/30,000/45,000 for an Economy/Business/First class trip (one-way). Children pay half.
Daladalas (public "buses") are a good, cheap way to get from the city to the surrounding areas. Costing only TSh300 for a trip, they are crowded, slow, and thrilling sometimes. You may want to ask someone which one you need to take as there are no transit maps.
Taxis can be an option, although there aren't any official labels on them as there are in the capital. White licence plates means that the vehicle is registered for commercial use, and yellow mean private. Not all taxis have white licence plates, but some do. The taxis should be white cars with white licence plates. Use at your own risk.
Pikipikis are the little motorcycles that will take one or two people on as a fare. There are usually a few sitting at intersections. These are very dangerous because of influx of vehicles in Mwanza and again, use at your own risk.
The shores of Lake Victoria are interesting to walk along and popular with locals. Also, climb to the top of Capri Point at the west end of Station Road for a nice view of the area.
- 1 Bismarck Rock (Next to the Kamanga Ferry terminal). A fascinating natural rock formation.
Frozen and fresh Nile perch fish fillet boxes available near the airport is the great buy.
There are some excellent fabric markets on the north end of Rwagasore Road with patterns and designs that aren't available in Dar es Salaam or Zanzibar.
Walk through the market area between Lumumba and Pamba Roads for an intense taste of a bustling market. Don't carry a wallet.
Remember to bargain with merchants. It's expected.
Malls & supermarkets
- Rock City Mall. is the largest shopping mall in Mwanza. The mall has many stores and a large TSN supermarket. Cinema. Stanbic Bank & ATMs. Phone stores. 8AM-10PM.
Banks & ATMs
- Standard Chartered Bank. Has a Visa Card ATM.
- Stanbic Bank. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- Kenya Commercial Bank. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- Equity Bank. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- Eco Bank. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
- I&M Bank, Balewa Street. Has a Mastercard/Visa Card ATM.
Great Lake Victoria's fresh water tilapia fish is a must eat food. A good number of fish industries exist. They export Nile perch fish fillet (sangara fish) to Europe and South Africa. Street food. Oranges, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, cassava, roast maize, taro are all available on the street from vendors for TSh100-1000. Also available are mandazi, bagias, and other local fried breads in some areas. Vendors are usually walking around, so they may be harder to find.
- Pizzeria Kuleana, Post St.. Pizzas, as expected, and a breakfast that is the favorite of locals and travelers. Opens early, so it makes a good place to wait for the town come alive if you have arrived with the night ferry. 7AM-9PM daily.
- The Food Square, Bantu St. near Nkrumah St. Open for breakfast and lunch. Excellent, popular, fast, local food for TSh1000-4000 per person. A great daily stop. No alcohol.
- Harish Pan House, Nyerere and Post St. Indian food with Zanzibar flavor. Vegetarian menu limited to Samosas, Zanzibar mix soup, snacks and other Indian traditional breads.
- 1 Sizzler, Kenyatta and Post St. Wide variety on the menu, local food, Chinese, and Indian dishes. TSh4000-8000. Open for lunch, then closed until dinner.
- Mayi Hotel, Spacious outdoor restaurant with a good diverse menu. Lots of fish and chicken dishes. Arrive later in the evening for more menu availability. Their spaghetti and cheese sauce is especially good if you're vegetarian. TSh8000-12,000.
- New Mwanza Institute, Station Rd. west of the train tracks. Popular local outdoor restaurant. Local dishes only. TSh2000-4000.
- Airport kiosk, opposite Mwanza airport terminal. Local outdoor restaurant. Try the chapati and fish soup. Local dishes only. TSh2000-4000.
- Tunza Lodge (about 8 km from town: follow the airport road to the Llemela dalla-dalla stop, take a left turn, following a dirt road to the lake side). Tunza Lodge is a beach resort on the shores of Lake Victoria. It offers sandy beaches, a bar and restaurant and weekend beach volleyball games on the sand. While the lake water is generally considered safer to swim in than areas closer to town, there is still a risk of schistosomiasis.
- The Breeze, second floor in the New Mwanza Hotel (stairs are in the front, not the ones that go up to rooms). Nice view of traffic and people walking below. Open air but covered. A good place to wait out a sudden rain shower.
Any local hotel and most restaurants serve beer and other drinks
- 1 La Kairo Hotel. A top-end place to stay. Working free internet, good meeting rooms. City is noisy at night. TSh30,000-100,000.
- 2 Tilapia Hotel (in Capri Point area, at the shore of Lake Victoria), ☏ . Offers a swimming pool and bar, ideal for swimming in on a hot day. Although the lake is adjacent, the water is infested with schistosomiasis and is not considered safe to swim in.
- 3 Malaika Beach Resort, ☏ . Has a large restaurant, infinity pool with poolside bar, sprawling lawns and Wi-Fi connections. You can watch the fishermen at work on the lake while you are at poolside.
- 4 Victoria Palace Hotel (in Capri Point district), ☏ . Excellent hotel rooms with free internet, awesome Indian food prepared by Indian Shef. Free breakfast.
- 5 Ryan's Bay Hotel (on the Station Rd. right between the Mwanza Railway Station and Capri Point), ☏ . It offers a big swimming pool and a quite good restaurant with a lake view terrace.
- 6 Rwagasore St (Just off Kenyatta Rd). Small sign outside, but nice rooms inside for the price. Bar and restaurant on the second floor, safe parking inside, satellite television (some channels in English) and en suite bathrooms. TSh15,000 per night, but if you're staying for a week or so, you can negotiate down to TSh10,000 per night. Good mosquito nets, balconies, but not necessarily a fan in every room.
- 7 Lake Hotel (Station Rd. west of Kenyatta Rd). Nice place with a restaurant. Small rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Safe parking. A little cramped for more than one night. TSh15,000 per night.
- Kishamapanda Guest House, Uhuru street. Fan rooms. From TSh8,000.
- Tulale Guest House, Shinyanga Rd (directly across from Nyegezi bus station.), ☏ . Fan rooms. Private parking is available. From TSh15,000.
- Christmas Tree Hotel, off Karuta Street, ☏ . Fan rooms. From TSh16,000.
- Mtwara Lutheran Center, Mikindani Road, ☏ . Dorm beds/single/double with outside bathroom. TSh6,000/10,000/15,000.
There is a ferry across the Mwanza gulf that leaves from the city (the Kamanga ferry) and another about 32 km south of the city. The southern one is recommended for driving because the roads on the western terminal are rumored to be much better.