Northwest Tanzania

Northwest Tanzania is known as Africa's Great Lakes region, because it is home to Tanzania's portion of Lake Victoria in the north and Lake Tanganyika in the west.


Other destinations


The most visited city in the area is Mwanza, because it makes for an easy base for visiting the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater.

Apart from Mwanza, the northwest does not get as many tourists as other regions, so those who do visit may feel they're getting a more "authentic" African experience, especially if you visit the smaller towns in the area. Bukoba and the surrounding area is home to the Haya people.


The most useful language is Swahili but English is also spoken around tourist spots.

Get in

By plane

The largest airport in the region is Mwanza Airport. There are international flights from Nairobi, Kisumu, Kigali, and Bujumbura as well as domestic flights from Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Kigoma, Arusha, Zanzibar and others.

Alternatively, visitors can fly into Entebbe (Uganda) and then catch a bus to Tanzania (Bukoba) from Kampala to cross the over land into Tanzania. This can actually be a more affordable option, but remember that you will need to pay $50 USD for a Ugandan visa.

By bus

From Uganda, there are buses that will take you from either Kampala or Masaka to Bukoba.

From Rwanda, there are buses from Kigali to the border city of Rusumo. From there you can cross the border to Biharamulo and then travel onward to other areas, like Bukoba or Mwanza.

From Northeast Tanzania, most buses will go to Mwanza and from there you can catch another bus to wherever you want to go. There are also buses from Dar es Salaam and Dodoma to Mwanza.

By train

There are trains connecting Dar es Salaam and Dodoma to Tabora, Kigoma and Mwanza.

Get around

By plane

Although the ferry (below) is cheaper, there are flights available between Mwanza and Bukoba. There are also flights between Kigoma and Tabora. Flights between Kigoma and Mwanza will begin on August 17, 2011.

By bus

The bus stations in Bukoba and Mwanza keep them well-connected to the rest of the region, as well as other parts of the country.

By ferry

There is a ferry that travels between Bukoba and Mwanza across Lake Victoria. Boats can also be used to reach Rubondo Island and Saa Nane Island in Lake Victoria.


The northwest region is known for its excellent natural sites with much less tourists. Lake Victoria itself is a site to see, as it's the largest lake on the continent, the world's second largest freshwater lake, and the world's largest tropical lake. Tanzania's part of the lake is also home to Rubondo Island National Park, a beautiful island where you can see hippos, alligators, and many other animals. Those with an interest in birds will particularly enjoy Rubondo, as it is home to over 400 different bird species. Saa Nane Island ('Eight O'Clock Island' in Swahili) features monkeys, impala, hyrax, and many aquatic animals.

Just outside of Bukoba is the site of ancient cave paintings. Within the city is the Kagera Museum, which features information about the local culture and history, along with artifacts. It is one of the few museums in this region. The city is also the seat of the Kiziba Kingdom.


Take a ride into the lush Mara River Wetlands on an airboat. Lots of birds and smoother than the roads!

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