Mwanza Dumps

Trip Start May 30, 2005
Trip End Sep 30, 2006

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Friday, August 11, 2006

Oh the joys of African Travel, and I'm just getting started. If the 'How Many People Can You Fit Into A Minibus' event was to become an olyimpic sport, then the Ugandans would be gold medal candidates. I was picked up at the side of a road into an already full minibus and squeezed in. I literally couldn't move and my feet started going numb before we arrived at the next town. The relief of blood flowing back into my feet was pretty sweet.

I then had to get a shared taxi to the border on Tanzania. With one passenger in the front and three in the back our driver wanted to wait for two more passengers. Myself and another passenger offered to pay double, to make up the fare, to leave immediately and to travel in semi-comfort.
"No, We need 2 more people"
"But if we pay extra then it's the same amount of money for you, and we leave now"
"No, we need to find 2 more people"
I gave up at this.

It didn't take him long to find more people, 1 for the front and another 2 for the back (That's 5 in total back there(myself included)). What did I do to deserve this? Thankfully 2 of them were only travelling a short distance.

Then into Tanzania, things improved slightly. Myself and a new friend managed to get the, comfortable, front seats of a minibus to Bukoba, however it didn't leave for about 2 hours. That's despite promises of moving, i.e. going forward 10 meters at a time. Then half way down the road we stopped again, probably for an hour, but every few minutes he'd drive forward or backwards 10 meters and everyone thought we'd be off, only to be disappointed each time.

Eventually I arrived in Bukoba and headed straight down to the ferry port to buy a ticket to Mwanza. And with luck, I only had 5 hours to wait till the ferry left. It was ok in the end, I ended up chatting with a guy from the Philippines and some of his mates for the duration. I also learned how to open a bottle of beer using another bottle of beer, another life skill mastered.

The ferry ride was superb, the night scene was excellent as we left the dock. I didn't stay up too long watching it though as I was soon in bed, in my swish first class cabin! which coincidently I ended up sharing with Romel the Philipino. I slept all the way through into the early hours and only awoke once we were close to Mwanza. We got off the boat and Romel was met by one of his friends. Despite the time we'd spent together the next thing he said to me was "It was nice meeting you, bye!", and at that, I was dumped.

Mwanza is Tanzania's second largest city (more like town) in terms of size and commercial importance. Despite that it's very laid back and easy to walk around. The locals are all really nice, especially the owner of one restaurant that I visited a few times. He was a real character and when I ordered 'Ugali' one day he expressed his concern. It's a local dish that's basically a solid porridge made from millet. He made me try a little bit before allowing me a whole portion! To be honest it was fairly horid, but I wanted to have it at least once, for that authentic experience!

Of course the town is on the shore of Lake Victoria, which adds a great deal to the town's ambiance. There is a little peninsular that juts out into the Lake, I had a walk around some large rocks at the end of the peninsular which gave me a great view of the lake, but rather sadly was treated as a dumping grounds by the locals. And when I say 'dumping' I really mean that in the defication sense. I also found some really weird lizards here as well, their back legs and body were bright blue, while front legs, chest and head were bright red. How did evolution do that one?

I booked myself on the sleeper train to get out of Mwanza. It's not really the most exciting of places and I've decided that I want to get down to the coast quickly, specifically Zanzibar, therefore I'm now a man on a mission!
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David Ebbels on

I was stationed at Ukiriguru, the agricultural research station 17 miles south of Mwanza from 1968-74. Enjoyed it very much and worked on cotton. The red and blue lizard you saw was an Agama lizard. They are common in the Mwanza area and do "press-ups" when they are curious. There is another species, more arboreal and larger, which has a blue head and upper body and grey lower body. They provide food for predatory birds, snakes and mongooses, etc.

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