17 April 2014

what to do in musoma.

Now that we've officially ended our time in Musoma, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to put together a little list of recommended spots for you Tanzanian travelers out there! (Check it, Lonely Planet.)

Musoma is a small town located in the northeastern corner of Tanzania, right on the shores of Lake Victoria. With a little over 120,000 residents, Musoma is the perfect window into local fishing life without the hustle and bustle you find in Mwanza or Dar es Salaam. While you can't locate Musoma on any "Top Ten Tanzanian Attractions" lists, finding yourself in this town is not necessarily a bad thing. There is definitely enough to keep you interested, at least for a long weekend. Read on for all of our recommended activities, tested and approved by us!

Relax at Tembo Beach 

This beautiful beach on the shores of Lake Victoria is the perfect retreat for anyone in need of peace and quiet. The sand is covered with lounge chairs for well, lounging, and plastic tables and chairs if you'd like to grab a bite to eat or drink. We haven't tried the food, but have heard it's worth it and reasonably priced. There's also a restaurant/bar for those who'd like to sit inside. But with this view, who would?

Location: Tembo Beach is an easy walk by foot from the town center. Ask any local to point you to the airport (kiwanja cha ndege in Kiswahili) and follow the road to your first round-about, where you take a right. After a ten minute walk, you should see signs for Tembo Beach, along with a small driveway, on your left.

Price: Free (except for your food and beverage, of course!)

Shop with Locals

One of my favorite things to do, no matter our destination, is to walk the streets of local food markets. In most of the developing world, the local market is how folks get their food everyday, often walking by foot to the one nearest their home. I love getting a sense of how people eat. You can truly see a culture's personality shine through its sellers and their countless wares.

Michael and I visited two local markets in Musoma: the main one, in the town center, and another close to the lake shore, where you will see a lot of dagaa, the local fish.

In addition to the markets, there's a lovely women's run co-operative called Tupendane Women's Center. There are a range of fabulous items here, from handmade cards to local fabrics and bags. You can even ask them to make you a tailored dress, which will be ready in about a week! There's a small cafe attached to the front where you can sit while munching on maandazi (doughnuts) and soda.

Location: If you ask a Tanzanian where to find the soko (market), they'll probably bring you to the large one, in the center of town. If you ask for the soko karibu na ziwa or perhaps Mwigobero, you'll get the other one I mentioned. Tupendane Women's Center is south of the round-about in town, with a big sign out front.

Price: Free (except for your inevitable purchases!)

Grab a Bite to Eat at Rehema Cafe

Rehema Cafe is the only joint in town offering Western food and a relaxed, outdoor atmosphere. In addition, your money is going to support a great cause: local women and children in the area. Although the service is sometimes left wanting, your craving for Western food will be satisfied. Don't forget to visit their shop on the way out, with great dresses, jewelry, and purses for sale.

Source: Rehema's Facebook Page
Location: Rehema Cafe is located on the Anglican Church compounds, south of Tupendane. It's a bit of a maze, though, so best to hire a pikipiki (motorcycle) or taxi to take you. Rehema Cafe is only open Thursday through Saturday, from 10AM to 4PM.

Price: For a meal and a drink, expect to pay about 15,000/= (about 10 USD).

Explore Lukuba Island

Lukuba Island houses a large village fishing community right off the shores of Musoma town. Michael and I, along with our fellow language students, were lucky enough to travel out to Lukuba for a day trip back in February. If you're up for a quick adventure and are staying in Musoma, this will do the trick. Along with getting a glimpse of local fishing life, you can grab a bite to eat at a small restaurant on the sand. Locals will be very curious about you, so don't expect to relax anywhere for too long.

Location: Lukuba Island is about a one hour boat ride from Musoma. If you have more time, and a lotta moola, we heard good things about Lukuba Island Lodge. As it's mighty expensive, we won't be staying there anytime soon.

Price: For boat transport, expect to pay 10,000/= (about 7 USD) per person round-trip.

Climb Rocks Around the Makoko Village

Our language school was located in Makoko Village, which is where we did a lot of our exploring. We really enjoyed hiking on the rocks near Makoko Language School although, after the fact, we heard they are a favorite spot of some not-so-fun animals. If we were to go back, we'd wear pants and close-toed shoes, just to be safe. Otherwise, the views afforded from the top of the rocks are breathtaking. Not to mention that we saw hyraxes (hyraxen? hyrax-i?) for the first time, as they scurried back and forth on rocks nearby.

A word to the wise: There is a military base near Makoko Village, so make sure all cameras are angled towards the lake and nowhere else.

Location: If you're staying in town, explore local life and take a daladala (local mini-bus) from the center out to Makoko. (Just look for the word 'Makoko' painted on the outside of certain buses.) The Makoko stop is the last on the line, so you can't miss it. From there, take the road to the left of the stop. After only ten minutes walking, you should easily spot the rocks on your left.

Price: 400/= (25 cents!) for the daladala one-way

Visit the Nyerere Museum

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the first and much-loved president of Tanzania, was originally from the Musoma region. Michael and I had the chance to visit the museum dedicated to Nyerere and his work, which is located in his home village of Butiama, about an hour's drive from Musoma town. (The drive is quite enjoyable all on its own!) Frankly, the museum is in disrepair but if you have some time on your hands, it's worth a look to learn more about Nyerere's policies, his presidency, and his culture. If you don't speak Kiswahili, it could be a bit difficult to understand all of the material.

Source: Kiabakari Snippets
On the same piece of land, you can find Nyerere's mausoleum, where you can visit his grave and receive a quick tour. Michael and I opted out of the tour but were able to pay our respects, located on beautiful grounds.

Location: In order to visit, you would need a car to bring you right out to the museum, as there are no attractions in the surrounding area.

Price: For non-Tanzanian residents, I would estimate the price to visit both the museum and the mausoleum would be no more than 7,000/= (about 5 USD).

Well, what do you think? In the mood for a safari out to Musoma? Although we're happy to settle down in Mwanza, we thoroughly enjoyed getting a taste of village life and its attractions in Musoma. If you have any questions or can recommend other hot-spots, please comment below!

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