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How to take the ferry to Ukewere Island

Ukerewe Island is a beautiful and largely undeveloped island located in Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake. At over 500 square kilometers, Ukerewe is the largest inland island in Africa and is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland. The island is mostly rural, with dirt roads, rice and corn fields, and a number of forests, caves, and beaches to explore.


One of the unique things about Ukerewe Island is that it is home to three different tribal languages, so even if you know Swahili, you may have difficulty communicating with the locals. It can definitely be useful to have a guide to take you around the island and help you navigate the language barrier.


To get to Ukerewe Island, the easiest way is to take a ferry from Mwanza, which can be reached by bus, train, or plane from Dar es Salaam or by bus or plane from Arusha. From Mwanza, there are two ferry options to reach Ukerewe Island. The first option is the new ferry, the MV RAFIKI, which leaves the Lake Ferries terminal in Mwanza at 3:00 pm and arrives on Ukerewe Island around 5:00 pm.

Tickets for the ferry cost 10,000 TSH (or 15,000 TSH for VIP) and can be purchased at the ticket window in the ferry station. The MV RAFIKI departs from Ukerewe Island to return to Mwanza at 8:00 am. Note that this ferry stays docked in Mwanza after its Saturday 9:00 am trip to Mwanza until Sunday afternoon for the 3:00 pm trip, so if you want to go for the weekend, you need to take the Friday 3:00 pm ferry or use the old ferry on Saturday. The other ferry option is the old ferries, which include the MV BUTIAMA, MV NYEHUNGE I, and MV NYEHUNGE II. The MV BUTIAMA typically sails daily from Mwanza North Port to Nansio Ukerewe at 9:00 am (first/second class = 10,000/8,000 TSH) and departs Nansio Ukerewe for Mwanza at 2:00 pm. The journey takes about two hours.


The MV NYEHUNGE I leaves the Kirumba Mwanza dock at 8:30/9:00 am and arrives in Nansino Ukerewe at 12:00 pm, returning to Mwanza at 1:30 pm/2:00 pm and arriving in Mwanza around 6:00 pm.


Tickets for this ferry cost 7,000 TSH for first class and 6,000 TSH for second class. The MV NYEHUNGE II leaves the Kirumba Mwanza dock at 1:30 pm and arrives in Ukerewe at 6:00 pm, returning to Mwanza at 7:30 am and arriving around 11:30 am. Tickets for this ferry cost 15,000 TSH for first class, 7,000 TSH for second class, and 6,000 TSH for first class.


It's important to keep your ferry ticket with you, as you will need to show it to the crew after departure. There are vendors on board who sell bottled water (500 TSH), soda (1,000 TSH), and snacks (peanuts, biscuits).





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