Kigoma is a colourful jewel situated on Lake Tanganyika in the heart of Africa, on Tanzania's western coast. It's uncommon for most foreigners to drive in Kigoma and throughout most of Tanzania. Some Tanzanian cities do offer car rentals, but most travellers rely on their tour guides to handle all the transportation logistics.
Car Rental in Kigoma
There are no car rental companies in Kigoma. Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, which accommodates millions of passengers each year, is perhaps the best place for renting a car, next to Zanzibar Town. Drivers should carry an International Driver's Permit (IDP) and a hometown licence. It's also advisable to have a passport and visa handy.
The only caveat is that most car rental companies forbid driving outside Dar es Salaam, so driving to Kigoma may not be an option. It's also a 16-hour drive.
Where rental cars are available — places like Mwanza, Mbeya, and Zanzibar Town — prices start at about CA$130 per day plus fuel. Most travellers hire a car with a driver.
Driving in Kigoma
The roads in Kigoma may be good, mediocre, or nonexistent. Having a vehicle with four-wheel drive is always the safest bet. Best practices include watching out for people and animals, not driving at night, and paying attention to tree branches and other debris on the road that might be dangerous. Travellers should not forget to buckle up and drive on the left side of the road.
Getting Around Kigoma
The main modes of transportation in and around Kigoma include minivan (dalla-dalla), train, ferry, and taxi. The most scenic ways to get around are by ferry and by train. Although ferries can be crowded, there's nothing like floating down Lake Tanganyika along the serene Kigoma landscape.
The main ferry, the Liemba, formerly known as the Graf Goetzen, has a famous history. It's the same vessel used in "The African Queen," the 1930s film with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. But tourists need not worry. It's still in great shape, having been repaired and updated over the years. Travellers would be remiss not to float down Lake Tanganyika on this historic vessel.
Things to Do in Kigoma
Kigoma offers huge rewards for travellers. There are multiple wildlife reserves nearby, along with beaches and traditional fishing ports. Visitors can take an early-morning hike through Gombe National Park to get up close and personal with chimpanzees. Here they can also see where famed primate expert Jane Goodall worked with the loveable creatures. Visitors can venture out to Jakobsen's (Mwamahunga) Beach by taxi or dalla-dalla and enjoy a quiet afternoon in a sandy cove.
The bustling fishing village, Katonga, is worth visiting early in the morning to witness hundreds of colourful fishing boats pulling in with freshly caught fish. The colonial-era Kaiser house closer to town was built for German emperor Wilhelm II. There are three restaurants nearby that offer lunch and dinner. The Coast View Resort offers local and some Italian fare, Sun City specialises in local dishes, and Kigoma Catering features Chinese, European, and Indian cuisines.
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