Before visiting Mwanza, I always assumed it would be a laid back relaxed city with not much to do. I finally went to check it out recently – and was surprised.
Our chosen accommodation was the Malaika Beach Resort, which is located some ten minutes from the airport.
The resort is set in a beautiful location, with grand views of Lake Victoria, lush green gardens, natural ponds and an infinity pool. Looking across the lake from our balcony, we knew that this spot would make for the perfect base camp for the next few days.
The weather in December was quite hot and humid, but a nice breeze coming from the lake made it pleasant. On our first day, we just relaxed by the pool and witnessed a beautiful sunset.
Exploring the city – Mwanza is waiting for you
Exploring Mwanza city is a must. On our 15-minute taxi ride from the hotel to town, we saw the huge Rock City Mall which really sticks out from the surrounding area. Our driver told us that even though it was so big it only had a few shops in it. We asked to be dropped off at the main market to explore the streets on foot.
The city centre is very busy, with lots of shops and business people buzzing around. We walked past the train station and continued to the famous Bismarck Rocks.
These granite rocks sit in the waters of Lake Victoria and are iconic for Mwanza. The Bismarck Rocks are found near the busy Kamanga ferry station. From here, ferry boats take people, cars and goods across the lake to different locations.
We carried on around the Capri Point peninsula and eventually chose Hotel Tilapia for a well-deserved meal. The hotel sits on the shores of the lake and right across from the Saanane Island National Park. You can reach this tiny national park via a short boat ride from the park’s headquarters. It is great for hiking, rock climbing and bird watching.
Fish markets and dancing rocks
We really wanted to go and visit the local fish market, so we headed down to the Mwaloni Market. The market is massive, busy and loud. We walked around for a while and realised that the majority of the fish found there was “dagaa” – small sardine like fishes – which were packed in large sacks and piled up. The fishermen said a full sack of about 70 kilograms cost roughly 50 USD. While many families have fished here for generations, it is getting harder to make a living as fisherman at Lake Victoria due to overfishing.
Our next stop was the Jiwe Kuu or Dancing Rocks. These granite rocks are quite high up on a rocky outcrop and offer simply the most spectacular view of Mwanza and Lake Victoria. It is said that once upon a time a powerful witch doctor wanted to prove his strength to the people, went to the Dancing Rocks and left his marks on the rocks turning them soft.
There is said to be one rock in particular that really looks as if someone put their prints on it all the way around! But I easily fall for such superstitious tales.
The Dancing Rocks is an amazing spot to watch the sunset and I definitely recommend it. The best way to get to the rocks is to organise a taxi from your hotel, as we found it quite difficult to actually locate the rocks when we asked people on the streets.
What else is there to do in Mwanza
Mwanza is home to the Wasukuma people and you can visit the Sukuma Museum at the Bujora Cultural Centre which is about 16 kilometres outside from Mwanza City. You learn about the Wasukuma and their culture. They are famous for their snake dances with rock pythons!
Boat cruises can be organised on Lake Victoria, where you can get to experience a traditional boat while enjoying the vastness of the lake.
All in all, I found Mwanza to be a very pleasant city, with a good mix of scenery, culture and entertainment and most definitely worth a visit.
Important to know:
Please note, that it is prohibited to take pictures at the Mwaloni Market.
It is not advisable to swim in Lake Victoria due to the bilharzia (Schistosomiasis) also known as snail fever which is caused by a worm parasite found in the water.