Mwanza is a city in northwestern Tanzania, along the shore of Lake Victoria. Mwanza is a port city, and also the second largest city in Tanzania (after Dar es Salaam).
While not necessarily a tourist hotspot, there is still a lot to see and discover in Mwanza, and we’re giving you a comprehensive introduction to this fascinating city.
Before we get into the things to do in and around Mwanza, let’s check out some basic facts about the city:
Location and Population
Mwanza is located along the Southern shores of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa. For this reason, Mwanza is considered a port town, and fishing is a major part of their economy.
Based on the most recent census, Mwanza has a population of 1,120,000. It is the capital city of the Mwanza Region, which is one of Tanzania’s 31 regions. The city of Mwanza is comprised of two districts – Ilemela and Nyamagana.
Mwanza’s population is mostly made up of the Sukuma ethnic tribe, who are a Bantu ethnic group. The Sukuma make up over 90% of the population of Mwanza. Other ethnic groups make up the majority of the region’s remaining population.
Those planning a trip to Mwanza will be concerned with the weather and climate. Like most African destinations, Mwanza is relatively warm year-round. However, due in part to its high elevation (1,140 meters above sea level) it doesn’t receive quite the scorching heat of many other African destinations.
Temperatures year round are quite consistent, with an average high of 35C (95F), and an average low of 17C (63F). The average annual temperature is roughly 23C (74F).
Mwanza’s wet season is long, and stretches from the end of October to the Beginning of May. The rainiest months are typically from March to April and November to December. From June to September is dry season and Mwanza receives significantly less rain.
Mwanza is not quite a tourist hot spot, so bookings will not be especially competitive in neither the wet or dry season. Most tourists would prefer to visit Mwanza during the dry season.
As long as you avoid the rainiest months, you will likely find frequent pockets of good weather regardless.
Things to Do In Mwanza
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we’ll give some tourist tips for those planning to visit Mwanza. While Mwanza isn’t quite considered a tourist hotspot in Tanzania (especially compared to other cities like Arusha) there is still lots for visitors to do in the region.
We can’t talk about Mwanza without talking about the Lake. The city is situated on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, and the lake becomes a major tourist attraction to visitors of the region.
Many tour companies offer boat tours of the lake and the surrounding islands, but we think a great way to see the lake is to take a stroll! Head down to the area surrounding Kamanga Ferry Terminal, right on the shore, and you’ll get a great view of Bismarck Rock.
Bismarck Rock is a very neat rock formation, in which a large rock stays perfectly balanced on top of a smooth rock. It’s worth a look and you can pair it with a stroll along the lakeshore, where you’ll see numerous parks, restaurants, and shops.
Sanaane Island National Park
Saanane Island National Park is a small island just off the coast of Mwanza. As the smallest national park in East Africa, it is only 2.18 sq km!
You can take a boat to Saanane from the park offices in the city center. We think it’s well worth checking out. It’s a great spot to spend an afternoon.
The island is covered in dense forest and smooth rock formations. It’s great for hiking, bird watching, photography, fishing, or to check out the local wildlife.
Saanane has a surprisingly diverse range of wildlife for such a small island, including impalas, velvet monkeys, wild cats, tortoises, snakes, agama lizards, and more.
Like many African cities, Mwanza is full of markets and bazaars. Checking out the local markets is a top tourist activity. Just be sure that you’re ready to negotiate!
We recommend the Mwanza Masaii Market. This is a quaint little market where you can find locally made goods, and other products that are sure to make great souvenirs. You’ll find plenty of other markets and street vendors just by walking about town.
The German Mansion
The German Mansion is a neat tourist attraction in Mwanza. It’s an old mansion located at the top of Robert Koch Hill. It’s interesting to check out the architecture, and get a sense of the German history from their past occupation.
As a bonus, the top of the hill offers great views of the city and the lake. It’s a fun hike, and a great way to get yourself coordinated in this bustling city.
We can’t mention Mwanza without mentioning the Serengeti! The Serengeti is one of the top tourist destinations in all of Africa and located just a two-hour drive from Mwanza.
There are plenty of local companies that offer tours of the Serengeti, although we recommend booking a tour before you depart.
The Serengeti is world famous for a reason: Picturesque views and vast expanses of African wilderness, along with extensive wildlife and a view of the big five game animals of Tanzania.
While most will book a tour of the Serengeti which departs out of Arusha, Mwanza also offers plenty of opportunities to see this world-renowned destination.
Thanks so much for checking out our guide to Mwanza. Although it’s not the most touristy city in Tanzania, it has its own charms.
From walks along the lake to checking out the local culture, there’s a lot to do and see here, and it’s a great place to visit during your Tanzanian adventure.