‘Rock-city’ on Lake Victoria

Mwanza, with its strong Indian influence, is a port city surrounded by hills dotted with boulders.

Despite the hustle and bustle of this economic heart of the lake district, Tanzania’s second largest city, Mwanza, maintains its casual atmosphere.


  • Height 1,140 m
  • Residents 437,000
  • dry season June to September
  • wet season October to May

About Mwanza city

Mwanza, a thriving port city on Lake Victoria, is a good base for nearby Rubondo Island and safaris to the western Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.

The location on the shores of Lake Victoria is very beautiful. The immense freshwater lake provides natural beauty, food and the necessary activity.

Culture & products

Location
Mwanza City is the most important port on Lake Victoria and an important economic center in the region.
The lake borders the country’s East African neighbors: Uganda to the northwest and Kenya to the northeast.

Culture
Mwanza is also the center of the Sukuma tribe, the largest tribe in Tanzania, having inhabited and cultivated the region for centuries. 90% of the population of Mwanza is Sukuma. The Sukuma tribe is also the largest Bantu ethnic group in all of Tanzania. In Swahili, Sukuma means ‘north’, referring to the lake area.

Products
Export and transport between the countries on Lake Victoria is a foundation of the economy of Mwanza city. Around the city you will mainly find farms. This concerns tea, cotton and coffee plantations, whose products are traded via Mwanza city.

An important activity of the inhabitants along the shores of Lake Victoria is fishing. There are, and there are five fish processing plants in the Mwanza area. The Nile perch introduced in Lake Victoria is exported in large quantities.

Climate & seasons

Mwanza City has a tropical savanna climate. Temperatures are relatively constant throughout the year, tempered by the city’s elevation (1,140 m). So the climate is not as hot as you would expect, given the city’s location near the equator. The average temperature in Mwanza is around 23.5 ° C all year round. Mwanza city can be visited all year round.

June to September:
There is hardly any rain, the temperatures are on average between 16 degrees at night and 28 degrees during the day.

October to May:
There is more rain, on average about 10 days a month. November and March / April are the wettest months during this period. Average temperatures average between 18 degrees at night and 27 degrees during the day.

Interesting facts

1. Mwanza city was founded in 1892.

2. In Mwanza city you will find remains from the period of German and British colonial rule, the Indians and early Tanzania.

3. In 1858, British explorer John Speke was the first European to see the waters of Nyanza. He named Lake Victoria, after the reigning British Queen. Incidentally, he rightly claimed that the lake was the source of the Nile River.

4. Tanzania Breweries has one of its four brewery in Mwanza city. The brewery was founded in 1933 and was previously called Tanganyika Breweries, and is engaged in the production, distribution and sale of malt beer, non-alcoholic malt drinks and alcoholic fruit drinks throughout Tanzania.

5. Serengeti National Park is 150 km from Mwanza and is easily accessible by road, also for day trips. Rubondo Island is 110 km from Mwanza and can be reached by boat, car and plane.

6. Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest (freshwater) lake (almost 70,000 km2) and half is located in Tanzania. Unfortunately, it is not safe to go swimming everywhere.

Activities

Mwanza City is known as ‘Rock-city’ because of the gigantic stones all over the city. Take a tour of this cozy city with very friendly people or visit one of the spectacular rock formations or an island off the coast.

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Jiwe Kuu

At Jiwe Kuu (big rock) you will find the ‘dancing rocks’, one of the more interesting rock formations of Mwanza City. These round granite boulders have been located on top of the large rock north of the city for centuries and offer beautiful views of both Mwanza city and Lake Victoria.

Bismarck Rock

Mwanza’s icon, the Bismarck Rock, is a very special balancing rock on top of the beautiful group of other rocks in Lake Victoria, next to the ferry port of Kamanga. A nice place for a beautiful sunset.

Mwaloni Market

While you’re there, be sure to visit the Mwaloni Market. Dynamic and a real spectacle. Everything is sold fresh on this important fish market, including fish, lots of fruit and vegetables.
Most of the goods are brought in by small boats from surrounding villages. There are almost as many marabou storks as there are sellers.

City tour

This city tour of Mwanza takes about 2-3 hours and is on foot.
The historical tour, for example, walks along German, British, Indian and early Tanzanian remains.
Such as the clock tower, German buildings, watchtower and fortress, the Indian quarter, the sculpture of Gandhi, the Haji Mussa Mansion, the Shia mosque and the Vedic Ariyan temple, the Makoroboi shopping center and the former residence of the German district commissioner.

Saa Nane

Saanane Island National Park encompasses three islands in Lake Victoria – Saa Nane Island, Chankende Kubwa and Chankende Ndogo – and can be reached in about 10 minutes by boat from the TANAPA offices at Capri Point in Mwanza city.

Saanane Island is an ideal place for wildlife viewing, bird watching, boat cruises, hiking, rock climbing, picnics, bush lunches, photography / filming, meditation and sport fishing. The island is not very large, only 0.7 km2 and with the other two islands together about 1.5 km2. Mainly monkeys and impalas, but also crocodiles, lizards, (python) snakes and seventy species of birds.

Sukuma Museum

The Sukuma Museum is located in Bujora, just east of Mwanza near Kisesa.
The Sukuma Museum has been a community museum since 1968 and is dedicated to the preservation and display of objects related to Sukuma culture. A nice museum that gives a good overview of the history, architecture, culture and language of the Sukuma tribe. The tribe from which the majority of the native population comes.

Ukerewe

Ukerewe is the largest island in Lake Victoria (530 km2) and is located 45 km north of Mwanza. Ukerewe can be reached by ferry (3h) or fast boat (1h). With the ferry you see the daily life of the people. A real experience.

The coast of this paradise island with small patches of forest on rocky terrain and beautiful views of Lake Victoria, consists of many bays and small islands. Life is simple and rural, one of the island’s biggest attractions. The population (with the Nansio as the largest group) uses successful agricultural techniques.
The island has a high percentage of albino Africans who were once left here on the island by their families as children. Although they are an oppressed minority, they can live safely here on the island.

The Ikulu “White House” is the humble 1928 European-style palace of the former king of the island. It can be visited.

Animals in the area

On the small island of Saa Nane, a national park off the coast of Mwanza City, there are several mammals such as the impala, rock hyrax, vervet monkeys and wild cats. But also reptiles such as crocodiles, lizards and (python) snakes and in the lake especially Tilapia and Nile perch.

Dieren overzicht Mwanza City

  • Crocodile
  • Fish
  • Hyrax
  • Monkey species
  • Slang
  • Vervet monkey

Imagining yourself in Mwanza City yet?

Have a look at the example trips that can be customized to your specific preferences or contact us directly!

example trips trip advice

Accommodation in Mwanza City

This city is a great starting or ending point for your safari in west Serengeti or Rubondo Island.

The beautiful location at Lake Victoria, the rock formations and it’s history are definitely worth it.