Apparently on Ukerewe the thought of a Mzungu on a bike is enough to bring fits of hysterics, as if it is something very unusual. I imagine if the islanders ever managed to go to the Netherlands they would be apoplectic.
This weekend I have spent time on Ukerewe, the largest island in Lake Victoria. North of Mwanza, it is a three hour ferry ride to a completely different Tanzania.
Ukerewe is a fertile island and the first thing you notice when away from the little port side town is the shear number of citrus trees. Mostly oranges and tangerines, you can buy a large basket of these fruits for 1000 TZs (about 33p). Apparently the market traders buy a tree for a season and will have sole right to all fruit produced. Mango trees are also in abundance.
My visit is part of a weekend away for the boarding students. Staying at the Monarch Beach Resort, we arrived from Mwanza on the Saturday morning ferry and we departed on the Sunday afternoon ferry.
In the short time of our visit we have hired bikes and used them to explore the island.
Our first trip took up through the fields and rice paddies and fountains of lake fly hovering in spires above the growing grains. Clouds of these mini-beasts so thick at times you needed to look down to avoid being splatted in the eye. Thankfully these soon passed and we came across the orange groves. Here the round became rougher and with no gears cycling was tough.
After half an hour or so we came to the base of the view point and we climbed on foot up to some great views of the lake. Here I spotted a cloud bursting rain over the land – possibly Mwanza from its direction.
The evening meal was followed by a bonfire and a chance to relax.
This morning it was back in the saddle for a ride to the King’s Palace. This was a long ride up and down hills on Tarmac before a long rutted sand road and a shorter flooded woodland paths.
By European standards the place was a bit rundown, no stately home here. It was possibly impressive at one time but now has a large colony of bats on the upper floor and a pungent odour. The ride was tough and the backmarkers were eventually picked up in the mini-bus (bikes and all). As I was cycling at the back it included me – but we had s boat to catch and we were running out of time. The highlight of the trip was to see the land in all it’s greenery.