Kigoma, Tanzania Travel Guide

The city of Kigoma is a smaller port city, compared to the remaining port cities of Tanzania. Nevertheless, the city is among the most important, located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The harbor is always busy. You will always be able to spot life, on the good 200 meter long pier.

There are about 136,000 inhabitants living in Kigoma. Unlike many of Tanzania’s other port cities, there is no rapid growth in the city. The city’s economic future is threatened by the nature of the surrounding hills.

Kigoma’s location

According to homosociety, the city is located in the western part of Tanzania, located on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika. From Kigoma there is only an hour and a half drive to the border between Tanzania and Burundi.

It is also just six kilometers from Kigoma to the historic village of Ujiji. Furthermore, Kigoma is often the city where tourists start their safari journey towards national parks such as Gombe, Mahale Mountains and Katavi.

Experiences in Dodoma

Gombe National Park

With its 52 km2, Gombe is the smallest of Tanzania’s many national parks. However, the park is extremely interesting and saves on a lot of exciting experiences. Here are both many animals to see, as well as a fine selection of beautiful natural areas.

The official creation of the park took place back in 1968. Gombe National Park is best known for the studies of the British anthropologist Jane Goodall. For 45 years, she researched the chimpanzees’ social relationships in the park. These studies have made Gombe particularly known for the chimpanzee’s presence.

The chimpanzee is not the only monkey species that has its way of life here. In the park you can also encounter beachcomber olive baboons, and red-tailed monkeys. In addition, over 200 bird species and 11 species of snakes have been recorded here. Furthermore, Gombe is also trodden by hippos and leopards.

The park’s location on the shores of Lake Tanganyika also provides an opportunity for a swim in the lake. Beneath the surface of the water, hundreds of different kinds of colorful cichild fish swim around. You can see them if you go on a snorkeling trip in the big lake.

Mahale Mountains National Park

Mahale Park is also located on Lake Tanganyika. The park stands out a bit from Tanzania’s other national parks. The area is protected to accommodate Mahale’s many chimpanzees. Furthermore, here you can experience your safari journey on foot.

The only way to get to Mahale National Park is by boat from Lake Tanganyika. The many impressions that the beautiful nature of the park leaves behind already start here. When you enter the mainland, you are welcomed by lush forest areas and dense planting, which makes the park seem almost untouched.

Due to the fact that you can only explore the Mahale on foot, the nature here is also somewhat more well-kept than at Tanzania’s other national parks. As the icing on the cake, the Mahale mountain range meanders through the fine park, from which the park gets its official name, Mahale Mountains National Park .

In Mahale National Park, both lions and chimpanzees live, which is something unusual. On your safari trip through the park’s sumptuous nature, you may also be lucky enough to see hippos, leopards and crocodiles as well as a large population of different bird species.

Katavi National Park

If you have the time and opportunity for a full day trip, then a visit to Katavi National Park is definitely recommended. The park is a four hour drive from the town of Kigoma, but with its excellent scenery and amazing wildlife, the park should help in your deliberations.

Katavi National Park is among the largest in Tanzania. The fantastic area extends over 4,471 km2. Due to the park’s somewhat deserted location, there are not near as many visitors here. Therefore, the landscape of Katavi is not particularly marked by human activity either.

In the park, both the Katuma River and the lakes Katavi and Chada are home. The landscape on foot is covered with forest and river plains. The park’s diversity of wildlife offers both zebras, impalas, giraffes and antelopes. Across the savannah you can often experience lions wandering in droves. At the water areas in the park you will be able to spot both the huge hippos and the breathtaking crocodiles.

Livingstone Museum & Memorial

The town of Ujiji, home to the Livingstone Museum & Memorial, is a historic memorial to the Scottish explorer, Dr. David Livingstone. During his travels in Africa, Livingstone lost touch with the outside world. Therefore, the American newspaper  New York Harald sent a man named Stanley to Africa, to find the famous explorer.

Stanley found Livingstone in the village of Ujiji. The place where the two met is now immortalized with a statue of the two men. The story of Livingstone’s exciting journey to Ujiji, you can read at the bottom of the page, if this should be of interest.

The Ujiji Museum portrays Dr. David Livingstone, and further recounts the story of the slave migration, which during the same period found its way through Ujiji. Despite the museum’s somewhat small size, it is extremely informative. An hour or two can easily be spent here. The trip back and forth to Kigoma is just as exciting a cultural experience. The children of the villages are rumored to be curious and outreach and the other locals are happy to share their kindness.

Try the local food

The central market in Kigoma is very similar to the other markets of the Tanzanian cities. At the stalls you can buy delicious food and cold refreshments. The market is also a great place to buy souvenirs such as hand-carved wooden masks, jewelry and clothes.

What sets Kigoma’s market apart from the rest of the country is the food. Sardines, or dagaa as they are called, are a traditional eat in many places in Tanzania, but most places, you must enjoy the delicacy dried. Due to Kigoma’s close proximity to Lake Tanganyika, you can taste the sardines in the market when freshly caught.

Kigomas history

From a historical point of view, Kigoma is not a particularly exciting city. It is the associated small village of Ujiji in return. The explorer, Scottish physician and missionary David Livingstone, has left his mark on the city.

Christianity in Africa

In early 1841, Livingstone set course for Africa, where his goal was to start mission stations around Africa, with a view to making Africans Christians. Three months later, he was finally able to land at Cape Town.

In 1845, Livingstone became engaged to Mary, the daughter of another missionary leader. Together, they traveled around Africa, founding schools for African children, and learning about Christianity. Together they had five children within six years.

From missionary to explorer

Livingstone’s mission was not a success. During his time as a missionary, he baptized only one African in the Christian faith – Chief Sechele. Already six months later, Chief Sechele had given up Christianity. He refused to give up the African custom with several wives. Therefore, around 1849, Livingstone changed mission. He now lived as an explorer, and had even taken the African man Oswell on his and his family’s journey.

In 1851, Livingstone lets his fiancée Mary and their children remain in a camp while he and Oswell sail on. What he did not know was that Mary and the children were traveling back to England, spreading the word about Livingstone’s travels. He was now a famous explorer in his homeland.

Wanted on the home front

In the year 1863, David Livingstone completely loses touch with the outside world. Six years later, New York newspaper Harald Henry Morton sends Stanley off to Africa. He was to find the famous missing explorer.

This is where the small village comes into the picture. On November 10, 1871, Stanley finally finds Livingstone. The two men meet under a mango tree in Ujiji. Here he meets the explorer with the now famous words: “Dr. Livingstone, I suppose? Livingstone answers: Yes. I feel grateful to be here to welcome you. The short conversation was subsequently printed in several British and American newspapers, which is why the quotes are historically known today.

Kigoma, Tanzania Travel Guide

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