Book Flights to Mwanza

Mwanza – Tanzania

Mwanza is the perfect starting point for a trip to the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater, and beyond. Located only 2 hours’ drive to the western gate you will start game viewing on your way to your accommodation as soon as you enter the park.

Closer to Mwanza there are another two national parks you can visit, both are islands in Lake Victoria, and you can have them almost exclusively to yourself. Rubondo NP and Saanane Island NP are both only a short boat ride from Mwanza and offer a huge range of animals, including elephants, sitatunga (a semi-aquatic antelope) and chimpanzees! Bird lovers, as well as fishing enthusiasts, will also absolutely love it here.

And as the sun sets over the lake, locals recommend taking a sundowner to ‘dancing rocks’, some of the city’s many boulders that are everywhere. You can enjoy the view whilst sipping on a cold drink in this little slice of paradise.

Book your cheap flight to Mwanza with Tripindigo today and explore the variety of wildlife on islands before heading off to the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater.

Why visit Mwanza?

  • Go on safari in an open vehicle, on foot, by boat or in a canoe at Rubondo Island. A paradise for fishermen and bird lovers, but equally fulfilling to watch the chimpanzees, elephants or sitatunga (shy semi-aquatic antelope) and other wildlife
  • Try your luck at game fishing on Lake Victoria and see if you are lucky enough to catch (and release) a huge Nile perch
  • Visit Tanzania’s newest and smallest Saanane Island National Park
  • Organise your safari to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater in Mwanza, only a 2-3 hour drive from the Serengeti’s western gate
  • Learn more about the local people the Sukuma in the museum located in Bujora
  • Go back in time on Ukerewe Island, a place many call Little Zanzibar, but without the crowds
  • 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: Mwanza International Airport (MWZ)
Best time to visit

You can visit Mwanza year-round, but if you want to avoid the rainy season it is best to visit during the drier and cooler months from June to October or from December to February when it is hot and dry.

If you want to visit the Serengeti from Mwanza, it is best to decide on the time of year to visit based on what you would like to experience in the Serengeti.

Sights and sounds

Mwanza is a port city in the northwest of Tanzania on the south of Lake Victoria. It is the economic centre of the lake zone and Tanzania’s second largest city. It is nicknamed ‘Rock City’ due to the presence of the huge granite boulders dotted around the landscape.

For a lot of people, Mwanza is just the gateway to the Serengeti, but closer by two national parks can also be visited. The first one is the seldom-visited Rubondo Island. The National Geographic calls the island ‘one of the greatest treasures’ in their selection of 50 unique lodges of the world. And you can see why. An astonishingly beautiful island, teeming with birdlife, and other wildlife including elephants, crocodiles, hippos, the shy sitatunga and even chimpanzees. The chimpanzees have been rescued from zoos and circuses and brought here to live a wild life again.

Closer by is Ukerewe Island, the largest inland island in Africa and affectionately known as ‘little Zanzibar’. Living up to its nickname, the laid-back pace of life sweeps over you as you step well and truly off the beaten track. You can hike through the green hills and into the forest, walk out into the quaint villages and onto the idyllic beaches. It is also a safe haven for Tanzania’s albinos, who are often victims of violence. You won’t find the equivalent of Stone Town here, but it reminds many of Zanzibar decades ago and you will most likely be the only tourist there.

Closer still is Saanane National Park. A five-minute boat ride brings you to the islets where you can hike the nature trails or climb the rock boulders for breathtaking views. Get up close to animals such as antelopes, zebra, lizards and tortoises and maybe not so close to the pythons and wild cats. It is the only place in Tanzania where you can see the De Brazza’s monkey.

Just 16k east of Mwanza is Bujora, the location of the Sukuma museum. An excellent place to brush up your knowledge of the local Sukuma people and watch a traditional drumming and dancing show (on request).

And when you are ready to leave Mwanza, you can head off towards the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. The western gate of the Serengeti is only located 2 hours driving from Mwanza and your game drive starts as soon as you enter the national park.

Dining and Dietary Considerations

The town of Mwanza offers traditional Swahili classic meals in local cafes and bars, as well as street vendors selling a selection of tasty fried and grilled snacks.

A few restaurants and more upmarket hotels serve international cuisines, mainly Indian, pizza and barbecue fare. There are also cafes for a decent cup of coffee and some have wifi.

Tipping is not expected, but much appreciated by staff.

Religious and Cultural considerations

As in the rest of the country, Mwanza has a large population of Christians, around a third. Another third is Muslim and the remaining people of Mwanza don’t adhere to any religion, follow traditional beliefs, or practice any of the other world religions.

Mwanza is not extreme at all, but there are some cultural do’s and don’ts:

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

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

Cost of Living

Mwanza has accommodation options, as well as transport, food, and excursions for all budgets.

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

  • Domestic beer (0.5-litre bottle) in a supermarket – 2,400TSh
  • Imported beer in a supermarket (0.33-litre bottle) – 3,000TSh
  • Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) – 3,000Tsh
  • A bottle of coca cola / pepsi (0.33-litre bottle) – 584TSh
  • A small bottle of water (0.33-litre bottle) – 613TSh


  • Whilst in the Mwanza area, British explorer John Hanning Speke named the lake for his sovereign Queen Victoria in 1858. He also declared the lake as the much sought after source of the river Nile
  • Mwanza has an enormous potential to become a bouldering destination with so many boulders all over the place, waiting to be tried and climbed. By you perhaps?
  • Not far from Mwanza lies Ukerewe, the largest inland island in Africa. It is well known for the large population of Africans with albinism. Cultural visits can be arranged.

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