Tag Archives: Lake Victoria

I’ll Miss …. Lake Victoria

Term’s over, school’s out and soon we’ll be out of Africa.

Not for ever ….. but for a couple months whilst we return to the UK. Here is a short series on some of the things I’ll miss whilst we’re gone.

Lake Victoria affords some amazing views. It might be full of Bilharzia and polluted, but is scenically beautiful, whether from Tunza, Talapia, Malaika, Yung Long, Wag Hill, Jembe Beach, Papa’s or Igombe it’s lovely to sit by the Lake, the gentle breeze blowing cooling air, watch the nature and relax. Sunsets are awesome.


Rising Waters

One thing which has been apparent over the almost two years we have been in Mwanza, that is the fact that the Lake is rising!

Lake Victoria’s waters are flooding over the low lying land along the shoreline, like here at Charcoal Ribs, Jembe Beach south of Mwanza.

The above photo was taken a month after the end of the rainy season (we have had very little rain this past month) but the waters are not receding. This photo was taken south of Mwanza on Jembe Beach, but the pattern is repeated along the length of the lake where we have encountered it at Igombe, Papa’s, Talapia, Tunza and Malaika

Researchers in Uganda have measured water level rises of almost 6m in two years. Lake Victoria is a shallow lake and has only one outlet, the River Nile at Jinja. This accounts for 15% of the outflow. The water comes in via streams and the Kagera River, but again this does not account for much.

The water levels are mainly affected by rainfall and evaporation. Climate change appears to be having a big effect on Lake Victoria.

Information taken from



Weekly Photo Challenge : Dinnertime at Papa’s

Every so often we like to escape Mwanza and head out West along the lake to a restaurant called Papa’s. As well as a meal you get to see some wildlife with your dinner. Here from a selection of visits over the past 18 months, is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinnertime

Weekly Photo Challenge: Now (at the beach)

A submission to this week’s photo challenge: Now

So here we on 28th December at almost 6pm -sitting on the beach by Lake Victoria in the warm breeze, under blue skies watching the waves crash into silver sands. It’s lovely here at St Dominic’s Annex Beach near Igombe, Tanzania



Weekly Photo Challenge: Now (at the beach)

A submission to this week’s photo challenge: Now

So here we on 28th December at almost 6pm -sitting on the beach by Lake Victoria in the warm breeze, under blue skies watching the waves crash into silver sands. It’s lovely here at St Dominic’s Annex Beach near Igombe, Tanzania




When many people think of Tanzania, they probably think of the Serengeti with it’s arid plains teaming with Wildebeest and Zebra.

… or possibly Kilimanjaro’s snow capped peak.

… or maybe Zanzibar and it’s white sands and azure waters.IMG_9951

All these are amazing places and we’ve been to all three  (though we’ve yet to see Kilimanjaro’s peak personally), but Tanzania is as much defined by it’s lakes as anything else – more so in that much of it’s Western Border is Lake and a portion of it’s Northern Border too.

There are three Great Lakes here : Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyassa (more commonly known as Lake Malawi in the outside world – but not in Tanzania or Mozambeque which share it).

We have been lucky enough to visit all three in the past 15 months – in fact we live next to the largest (Lake Victoria) so we visit that one all the time.

Lake Victoria

Shared Between: Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya

Area:68,800 square kilometers (26,600 sq miles)

Lake Victoria is the world’s second largest freshwater lake by surface area; only Lake Superior in North America is larger.

Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and is also the largest tropical lake in the world.

The lake is an average of 40m deep and its deepest point is 83m deep. It is therefore quite a shallow lake.

Named after Queen Victoria by it’s European discoverer John Speke it is known as Lake Nyaza in Bantu languages.

Sadly the lake’s ecosystem has been decimated by the introduction of Nile Perch and eutrophication. Thus hundreds of native cichlids have been driven to extinction in the past 50 years. The perch have no natural predator and have destroyed the natural food chains which existed. Increased algae have further choked the lake and the drop in fish population has severely damaged the fishing industry here.

The lake looks lovely but you wouldn’t swim in it’s toxic waters. Raw sewage is dumped into the lake by factories and settlements and increases the eutrophication further.

Bilharzia snails are present in high quantities and as a carrier of Shistosomiasis a potentially fatal disease if left untreated. Sadly locals do swim and wash in it, having no choice but to do so.

It’s sad that this massive body of water on our doorstep is so polluted.

Lake Tanganyika

Shared Between: Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia

Area:32,900 square kilometers (12,700 sq miles)

We visited this beautiful lake over half term, staying near Kigoma at Jacobsen’s Beach.

It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest.  It is 570m deep on average and at it’s deepest it is 1470m deep. Only Lake Baikal in Siberia is deeper and has greater volume.

It is also the world’s longest freshwater lake.

The name “Tanganyika” means “Great Lake spreading out like a plain”

Located in the Rift Valley the lake is relatively unpolluted. Over 250 species of cichlids live in the lake and 75 other species too.

Fishing is a major industry here and has impacted upon the fish.

No lake in Africa is free of Shistosomiasis but it seems to be low level/ risk  in Tanganyika unlike Victoria. We will take praziquantel to be certain but you have to wait a couple of months.

Lake Nyassa (Lake Malawi)

Shared Between: Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique

Area:29,600 square kilometers (11,400 sq miles)

We visited this lake in the summer travelling from Mbamba Bay in Tanzania to Likoma Islands on to Monkey Bay in Malawi.

It is the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa.

It has a depth of 292m on average with a maximum of 706m.

It’s over 1000 species of cichlids makes it very bio diverse. It has in fact the most variety of species of any lake.

The lake is subject to a border dispute with slaw I claiming the entire lake up to the shore of Tanzania whilst Tanzania claims the border is in the middle of the lake.

It is probable that the lake contains Shistosomiasis and slthough we were assured otherwise and although we did swim in it’s clear waters at both Likoma and Monkey Bay we have taken medication to be safe.

Three Great Lakes – all different in their own way and all part of Tanzania.

Victoria to Victoria

We’re soon going to be going on our travels as the Summer Holidays begin. Our plan is to travel from Mwanza to Livingstone in Zambia (Victoria Falls)  and back taking in Malawi (and Kenya!) on route. The Kenya bit of our journey is a late addition as we need to be in Nairobi in early August to drop my son off for some work experience, resulting in an extra loop.

Our journey will be entirely on public transport – following the success of our trip to Uganda at Easter, plane, coach, train all the way there and back again!

This blog will continue and will summarise our journey once back and some of the more mundane living before, during and after, but we wanted more of a daily travelog as we travelled along on our journey.

You can find all about our trip on a separate blog Victoria to Victoria which will be our travelog – feel free to subscribe.

Malaika Beach Resort

It’s a bit of a treat and so it’s something we do only occasionally. The forecast was great and even  though the morning was cloudy it soon burned back to a glorious blue sky by midday. Time to head off to Malaika Beach Resort.


You can’t swim in Lake Victoria – the water is too polluted and full of Bilharzia, but the lakeshore offers stunning views. Entry to Malaika Beach Resort is 2000 TZS per head (63p) which is enough to make the place exclusive so they say. You get this back as a drink (a soda or money off a beer). the real expense is the pool, but it is worth it. For the four of us it was 60000TZS ,(approx £19). It is a sign of the times (and my wage here) that this price makes it an occasional trip not a regular visit. Once inside the place was virtually empty – of course although  yesterday was a school break it was not a Public Holiday here and so most were at work. We had a fabulous afternoon in the pool.




   The surroundings at Malaika are really pleasant too.  

                    After an afternoon at the pool we decided to have a meal whilst watching the sunset. The food is in truth not the best but it wasn’t poor either. Even so the surroundings are stunning and we saw a great sunset.  


   A great end to a great day!




Mwanza Shoreline

Mwanza is situated on Lake Victoria, but not on the “main lake”. It is actually sits on the Mwanza Channel, a narrow branch of the lake which stretches miles south from the main body of water. Our journey to and from Ukerewe gave us the opportunity to see Mwanza from a different perspective.

Mzungu on a Bike

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.

Bukoba Bound

Today we leave Mwanza. Our journey takes to Bukoba. This town on the western edge of Lake Victoria used to be an overnight ferry ride, now due to mechanical failure the ferry does not run, so it’s a lengthy bus journey from Mwanza, this is the first of many bus journeys which will take us out of Tanzania over the equator and into Uganda. 

It was an early rise for an 8:30am bus, sadly our booked bus was broken down. Although our tickets were transferable, the next bus on offer looked old and decrepit, with scratched down the side and rather overcrowded. Our original bus had been chosen for being more modern and of British origin, we had allocated seats near the front. We eventually got onto a second bus which looked more modern, although our seats were now near the back. It’s going to be a long drive.

For now Bukoba awaits us. This town founded in 1890 seems pleasant enough but offers a tourist little more than an overnight stop. Images from Bukoba will follow if time permits and images worthy.

Jembe Ni Jembe

Jembe Ni Jembe is a beach resort south of Mwanza. Last night we visited there for the first night with a group of colleagues. One of my colleagues runs a dance group (they performed at the Rock City Charity Ball), and last night they were in a dance competition with the resident dance group.

Jembe Ni Jembe, really is in the middle of nowhere, a half hour along rough roads through the countryside before arriving at the complex. We are told this place has amazing views in the daytime so we will need to return here in the light, but last night the place was lit by LED lights, an oasis of luminescence in the darkness.

After the competition and some food we stayed on for the club disco into the early hours. Good fun!

Rubondo Retrospective : Day 1 Journey There

We were up early for our journey to Rubondo. There were 13 of us going. The families of two other colleagues, a couple of friends of one colleague (over from Scotland) and ourselves, squeezed into two cars along with luggage

Our journey to Rubondo would take several hours and require two crossings of Lake Victoria. This lake on our doorstep is enormous (at 68,800 km² – the second largest fresh water lake on the planet). Our first journey was a short one into town to Mwanza docks to get the Kamanga ferry. This ferry was not our first choice, as the road beyond was somewhat rough and unsurfaced. However, the other ferry ( to Kikongo) was out of action due to a mechanical failure, and it’s tarmac road therefore unavailable.

We arrived at the docks in the dark, just as one ferry had departed, which meant an hour and a half wait as dawn rose. Even so it was a great opportunity to grab some pictures of dawn on the lake.

The ferry arrived and we boarded, foot passengers first, then if there was room drivers with cars, luckily our drivers were able to get on board to. Then we crossed the straights enjoying the early morning sunshine and the sites of Lake Victoria accompanied by Hot Chai and Mandazi (donuts).

Once across it was onto the dirt road via Kamanga to Geita, the last part being tarmacked. From Geita we took the dirt road to Nkome. This was the same village Anita had visited in January, but also our mainland destination. As we travelled we passed numerous Pineapple plantations, obviously the region is a major source of these fruits. In Nkome we made our way to the National Park offices where we were to pick up the boat which would transport us to Rubondo Island. The journey from Mwanza to Nkome took about three hours, adding in our earlier ferry crossing and wait it was about 6 hours from departure to Nkome.

We unpacked the cars and our luggage and 13 passengers were loaded onto the boat for our 90 minute cruise to Rubondo. Considering we had only travelled across the Southern  coastal part of the lake, it had given us a real feel of it’s enormity. This part of the lake is dotted with Islands of various sizes, which we passed by on our journey to Rubondo. Many of the islands are inhabited with small fishing communities and farmers. Rubondo itself is the largest island at about 237 km², it is 26km long and between 3km and 10km wide. Our base was the Bandas about 2/3 way up the Island.

The Bandas are set in a wide bay with great views of the Lake and it’s wildlife. There are a number of partially submerged trees  ( a sign of the lake’s rising waters), home to some black weaver birds (Viellot’s Black Weaver) and several Cormorants. We spent the afternoon exploring and  relaxing. The accommodation was comfortable and reasonable. There was no electricity in the daytime, but this was not a problem. As we sat in the loungers on the beach front we could here the sound of hippos in the lake and spotted a few groups enjoying the afternoon. As afternoon turned to evening we prepared our evening meal having gone to onsite shop in search of a few provisions. In truth, the cooking facilities were a little basic (like a youth hostel) and not terribly clean, although adequate for simple meals. The shop was very basic and although we had bought a few essentials with us ,we were counting on having a little more.

After dinner of vegetable dal (lentils cooked with onion, garlic and tomato) we went outside to see the hippos which had come ashore to graze. Even in the pale moonlight these were impressive creatures. After a long day and a lot of travelling we retired to bed at about 9:30. Just before bed we got a chance to admire the stars above us – with no light pollution an amazing site to behold.


Rubondo: Crocodile Island

Having just returned from Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria the second of a couple of short posts. A longer written account will follow in the coming days.

The waters of Rubondo are home to crocodiles as well as hippos. On our second day we saw some enormous crocs on our Walking Safari.Rubondo 20 Feb (179) Rubondo 20 Feb (194)-1

Then in the evening after our meal we spotted a croc in the lake it’s two eyes reflecting back the torch light. It drew closer as we watched and by means of a fish head left over from a meal we encouraged it ashore. We managed to get some great shots of the enormous reptile which just sat there for over half an hour.Rubondo 20 Feb (336)-38

Rubondo 20 Feb (348)-45

Rubondo: Hippo Island

Having just returned from Rubondo Island in Lake Victoria the first of a couple of short posts. A longer written account will follow in the coming days.

Our location on Rubondo was the Lakeside Bandas from which we could here and see Hippos out in the waters. As dusk approached they ventured nearer and nearer the shoreline and after dark came on land to graze.

Rubondo 19 Feb (315)-10 We were lucky enough to see them with the aid of torchlight.
Rubondo 19 Feb (331)-1

Our second day’s walking safari gave us a second glimpse of this amazing beast and a nearby waterbuck.

Rubondo 20 Feb (205)

Today’s game drive allowed us one last viewing of the beast.

Rubondo 21 Feb (76)Rubondo really is a Hippo Island.



The bright moonlight reflecting off white sands; the gentle lapping of the waves. Far out to “sea” the bobbing lights of the night fisherman on the horizon. Beyond them the periodic orange glow of a distant thunderstorm. Nearby the chirping of grasshoppers. Idyllic!


Camping by the Lake

This weekend we have left Mwanza and travelled a short distance up the coast at a place called St Dominic’s Annex Beach. We are here with the school borders on a camping weekend. Given this morning’s weather this is either brave or foolhardy.
Having said that it’s nice to leave the town and experience a little bit of rural Tanzania.
Currently the borders sure help ping to prepare an evening meal (Spaghetti Bolognaise)

There are numerous bugs here attracted by the light, otherwise it’s a lovely spot and provided you keep away from the strip lights it’s fine.

There have been signs of a storm way out across the lake and I would really like to see one for real (rain free of course).

Some pics when the reception improves.


Bismarck Rock

After a month here we had yet to visit Bismarck Rock, until today that was.

Bismarck Rock is probably Mwanza’s best known landmark. A place featured on all the posters for this town. It is an impressive rock formation with a seemingly impossible stone perched upon a slab on the shores of the lake.

The place is a magnet for married couples who go there for their wedding photos. There were at least three couples there this evening all getting there snaps done as sunset approached.

Earlier the place was filled with Maribu Storks – ugly birds but intriguing nonetheless. We got as close as we ever had this afternoon. We also took in a drink at You Long (Yum Long) Chinese Restaurant a place with great views of the lake.






Malaika Beach Resort

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Life isn’t always like this but working here at Isamilo has given us access to some fabulous places such as Malaika Beach Resort on the shores of Lake Victoria. We have spent a glorious afternoon here enjoying the infinity pool. We met some colleagues here (great minds think alike). If you are in the region this is a definite place to come and at 69000 TSh (approx £25) for 4 a good bargain. Not something for every week but an occasional treat.










Dancing Rocks

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This afternoon we were taken on a walk to the dancing rocks. Mwanza is strewn with large boulders, some precariously (so it seems). The walk took a couple of hours and gave us great views of the rocks and Lake Victoria. If you are ever in the area this is a definite “must see”.



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