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Bustling, green-leafed Bukoba has an attractive waterside setting and amenable small town feel. Everyone who comes to visit here seems to like it, even though it’s a little hard to put your finger on exactly why. The town traces its roots to 1890, when Emin Pasha (Eduard Schnitzer), a German doctor and inveterate wanderer, arrived on the western shores of Lake Victoria as part of efforts to establish a German foothold in the region.
Since then, the second-largest port on the Tanzanian lakeshore has flourished thanks to the income generated by coffee and vanilla farming.
The surrounding Kagera region is the home of the Haya people, known for their powerful kingdoms that once held sway in this area. Prior to the rise of the Haya kingdoms, Kagera was at the heart of an advanced early society known for its iron production.
Sights & Activities
Musira IslandThe big chunk of rock in front of Bukoba was a prison island in the days of the kings and now it offers an intriguing getaway. Upon arrival introduce yourself to the chairman. Ask him to show you the path to the summit, which passes the Orthodox Church and several homes made from elephant grass.
Crowded passenger boats depart Nyamukazi, near the museum, but with these you don’t get the chance to see the cliffs and caves (where traditional healers used to be buried) on the backside so it makes sense to hire a boat for the trip or take a tour.
Kagera MuseumThis small but worthwhile museum mixes a collection of local tribal items with photographs of wildlife from the Kagera region. Attached to the museum is the Bukoba Disabled Assistance Project (BUDAP) workshop where men and woman with polio make ngoma drums, handbags and jewellery.
The museum is across from Bukoba’s airport in the Nyamukazi area. If taxi drivers or motorcycle-taxi drivers don’t know the museum, tell them ‘Peter Mulim’ and they’ll know the area. You can also walk along the lakeshore to the museum.