Book Flights to Kigoma

Kigoma – Tanzania

Kigoma is the gateway to the most stunning national parks Mahale and Gombe, both well-known for the chimpanzee tracking opportunities. Who doesn’t want to come face-to-face with the chimpanzees, our closest living relative, made famous by Dr Jane Goodall?

But it doesn’t stop there. Lake Tanganyika is like an aquarium full of colourful fish, and with its crystal clear water and stunning white beaches, it makes a superb beach destination. Every evening you can watch the magical sunset over the lake until the millions of stars come out.

Kigoma is also home to the oldest ferry still in operation and you can take a trip down to Mahale NP on the MV Liemba, or cruise all the way to the end point in Zambia. And in nearby sleepy village Ujiji, you can find a memorial at the historical meeting point between Henry Stanley and David Livingstone.

Book your cheap flight to Kigoma with Tripindigo today and soon you will find yourself side by side with the charismatic chimpanzees.

Why visit Kigoma?

  • Go trekking with chimpanzees in either Gombe National Park or Mahale National Park
  • Don a mask and snorkel and admire the colourful aquarium fish in the crystal-clear water of Lake Tanganyika
  • Visit the small town Ujiji where Henry Stanley uttered the famous words “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”
  • Hop on the oldest operating ferry in the world, the MV Liemba
  • Time zone: UTC / GMT +3
  • Currency: Tanzanian Shilling (TSh, often written as =/)
  • Driving: left-hand side of the road
  • Power Outlets: 220V-240V 50Hz. Plug types are ‘Type D & G (British)’
  • Closest airports: Kigoma Airport (TKQ)
Best time to visit

Kigoma is a tropical destination. It is always warm, and in the evening it cools off to pleasant temperatures. The wettest month is usually March, the warmest August.

If you come to Kigoma to go trekking with the chimpanzees in either Gombe or Mahale NP, the least rain and potentially easier walks are in the dry season from June to October. But, it is definitely possible to see the chimpanzees year-round, don’t forget it is a tropical rainforest and rain is possible every day.

Sights and sounds

Kigoma is a relaxed small town and port on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, in the west of Tanzania. Lake Tanganyika is the longest lake in the world and the second deepest, and it contains around 18% of all fresh water on earth. But it also contains a huge variety of fish, with at least 250 species of cichlids. Cichlids are better known as the colourful aquarium fish and snorkelling in Lake Tanganyika is like snorkelling in a huge fish tank.

Kigoma is the best starting point for a close encounter with the chimpanzees. Gombe NP, made famous by Dr Jane Goodall,  is easily accessible from Kigoma and can even be done on a long day trip. There are approximately 90 chimpanzees in Gombe NP living in three communities.

Mahele NP is further from Kigoma and harder to reach, but well worth the extra effort. There are around 700 chimpanzees living in Mahale NP.

It is best to spend 2-3 days tracking the chimpanzees to allow yourself the best chance of seeing them. Unlike their cousins the gorillas, a daily time of one hour with the chimpanzees is included in your daily entry fee into the park. If you are lucky you may observe them using leaves and twigs as tools.

If you have a spare couple of hours, drop into Ujiji and visit the Livingstone Memorial, the location where Henry Stanley asked the famous question “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”.

From Kigoma it is possible to hop on the MV Liemba, the oldest ferry in operation in the world. It sails all the way to Mpulungu in Zambia, but it is also possible to get off at Buhingu (also known as Lugosa or Magambo) which is located only 15km north of the Mahale NP boundary.

Dining and Dietary Considerations

There are a few restaurants in town serving good food, including local fare like wali maharagwe (rice with beans) or ugali (maize meal which looks a little like mashed potato) with chicken or fish. The view over the lake from the Kigoma Hilltop hotel restaurant is superb and they serve Indian and Western style, but no alcohol.

Religious and Cultural considerations

In Kigoma you can find Christians and Muslims, as well as people of other faiths.

Whilst not extreme, it is good to be aware of cultural do’s and don’ts:

  • Shoes should be removed when entering a home or place of worship
  • Dress modestly in public
  • Topless sunbathing and homosexuality is illegal

In some public places, the consumption of alcohol is not allowed.

When photographing people, always ask permission first and agree on payment if required. As a general rule, ask.

Cost of Living

Kigoma is a small destination with accommodation, transport, food and excursions for all budgets. Many hotels and guest houses are set in beautiful gardens and offer a view of the lake.

This is what you can expect to pay in Tanzania for:

  • Domestic beer (0.5-litre bottle) in a supermarket – 2,554TSh
  • Imported beer in a supermarket (0.33-litre bottle) – 3,833TSh
  • Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) – 3,340Tsh
  • A bottle of coca cola / pepsi (0.33-litre bottle) – 1376TSh
  • A small bottle of water (0.33-litre bottle) – 950TSh


    • Ujiji, a small town outside of Kigoma, is where Sir Henry Morton Stanley allegedly asked “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” on meeting the famous explorer


    • There are over 250 different species of cichlids in Lake Tanganyika, better known as the colourful aquarium fish


  • The MV Liemba was the inspiration for the German gunboat Luisa in C. S. Forester’s 1935 novel The African Queen, later also turned into a film

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