The very remote and rural region of Kagera off the main roads is crossed by a network of beaten paths. The paths lead through the dry savannah past villages where people cultivate bananas, corn, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes and sorghum as they have done for generations.
We have documented a number of easy but also more challenging tours that provide an extraordinary insight into the natural and socio-economic environment at close range. Some of the tours can be started in Bukoba, others start in the hinterland.
The tour starts in Bukoba and takes you up the hill right at the start and away from the city. Here you can enjoy a first fantastic view of Bukoba! After a while you find yourself on the tarmac road on which you cover the first half of the tour. Mainly downhill, you cycle through small villages, past pine forests and down into the grass and swampland.
Once you have reached Kyetema, you start cycling uphill to Katerero. Here, you may want to take a break with a view of the valley. If you are lucky you may see some monkeys doing acrobatics in the trees!
You continue on a dirt road steadily down into the valley, where the wilderness slowly turns into tea plantations. Now you have to overcome the longest and last big ascent that will take you back to Bukoba. Passing tea plantations, you ride slowly uphill in direction towards the mobile phone masts visible from a distance.
Once at the top, take a deep breath. Now, you are a technically somewhat demanding stretch which you can also cycle around without any problems. After a relaxed descent in the direction of Rwamishenye, you reach the tarmac road again and after a short stretch in the traffic of Bukoba, you arrive at the starting point and end of the tour.
With 41 kilometres and 660 metres of difference of altitude, the tour is somewhat demanding. But if you take your time, it will be quite enjoyable. The first half of the tour is on tarmac road, so you will proceed quite quickly. Technically, the tour is easy because you only drive on dirt roads or roads. The only technically demanding stretch can be cycled around.
Nice view of Bukoba at the start and end of the tour
A short but charming tour along the coast in the south of Bukoba with a remote fishing village and views of the city and the sea
Bukoba (Start) – Tanganyika Coffee Factory – beach near Rubare Forest – cliffs with Bukoba view – Bukoba (end)
This tour starts in Bukoba and passes the Tanganyika Coffee Factory, where the in Tanzania very popular Tanica Instant Coffee is produced. Along the short of the lake, the tour takes you through the forest, passing small settlements and towards the beach of Lake Victoria.
On the way back, you will have to do a long climb through the Rubare Forest.
At the top you can take a rest at the cliffs of Bukoba and enjoy a view of the city and the lake. Following the cliffs, the route continues back towards the city. After a descent across meadows and banana plantations, you will get back to Bukoba.
The tour is only 14 kilometres long with 120 metres of difference in altitude and can easily be done in a morning or afternoon. Some passages are technically somewhat demanding. In case, you get of your bike and walk a short stretch.
Ride following the coast of Lake Victoria
Visit a fishing village at the lake
Great views of Lake Victoria and Bukoba
On the way back, pass the Tanganyika Coffee Factory
Along the beach of Bukoba cycling north, past banana plantations, long sandy beaches and savannah countryside away from lake towards Mugesa Mseto School and then back to the city
Bukoba (Start) – Bukoba Beach – Airport – Along the coast – Beach – Mugesa Mseto Schule – Bukoba (end)
This tour starts at the office of Jambo Bukoba in the center of Bukoba. It is only a short ride to the beach of Lake Victoria where you can watch children playing ball, families, athletes and the ruins of a building going back to German colonial times. Directly at the waterfront you pass the runway of Bukoba Airport. Also, soon, you can smell the smell of the small, freshly caught fish (Dagaa) on offer here for sale.
We continue along the lonely coastline until we reach a small fishing village after some time. A short but crisp climb and you will have a great view of the Bukoba to the south. On a rough road, you now make your way between banana trees towards the beach. Soon you are down by the beach again and in a fishing village where time seems to have stopped. A little further north and you get a view of seemingly endless grasslands inland and away from the lake.
After a break at the beach, you go back on the same route for while before you enter a kind of wilderness between houses and trees. Now, there is a strenuous uphill passage where you may decide to push your bike for a while. At the top of the climb. you are rewarded with a great view of Lake Victoria! Through grasslands, you now make your way back to a dirt road that takes directly to the Mugesa Mseto School. You may want to visit this integration school for children with and without disabilities. Jambo Bukoba has completed several school infrastructure improvement projects.
The tour ends with a descent from the Mugesa Mseto School back into Bukoba requiring more care than skill and rewarding you with great panoramic views. Again, you pass the airport to arrive back at the Jambo Bukoba office.
With 24 kilometres and 230 metres of difference in altitude, this tour is not very demanding even if some climbs are steep and require some strength in the legs. But then, one can also push the bike if the climbs are too hard.
Technically, this tour includes two difficult sections. Coming from the beach, you have to climb through the forest, where the bike has to be pushed up some steep climbs. This section cannot be bypassed without changing the whole tour. The second difficult section is the descent from the Mugesa Mseto School towards the centre. Here, in the upper part, some parts are blocked with stones, where one has to get off the bike. This place can also be by-passed and via Sokoine Road to Bukoba instead.
The tour starts early in the morning in the centre of Kamachumu about 45km south of Bukoba. We start with a gentle downhill ride past the Ndolage Hospital to the upper rim of Bugonzi Waterfall. The very brave can sit directly at the edge; others, from a safe distance of the waterfall, simply enjoy the great view into the valley and towards the tea plantations!
Along the edge, the trail continues on single trail before you enter a descent towards the valley; in some places, the bikes have to be pushed. Once you are down in the valley, you pass banana tree plantations and finally get to the tarmac road. The tour then follows this road through the swampland up to the small village Ruhanga.
After this short stretch on the main road, you turn back on dirt road and cycle uphill to the village of Mayondwe, where at the highest point you may be welcomed by children at a school with joyful calls of “Wazungu” (white person).
Continuing along the road you can soon see some bays of Lake Victoria for the first time. Once again, you cross the main road and undertake a climb through woods and meadows, and arrive in the village of Kanazi. Again, on the top, great views before you relax on a long descent.
At the bottom of the valley, wetlands are crossed. After a further ascent to Ntoma, a long descent to wonderful Kabuhara Beach is expected. Depending on your technical skills and courage, you can take a shortcut on a trail that takes you to the beach on a more direct route, definitely recommended for mountain bike enthusiasts!
Once at the beach, you may want to take a brake as more than two thirds of the tour are completed. There is a simple bar run by locals where you can get yourself a drink.
After the break, the tour continues past Byeya Elementary School where a Jambo Bukoba school building project can be visited. We continue towards Bukoba. You can either take the direct route on the road or, if you still have energy left, you can take a detour along the cliffs down to the Tanica Coffee Factory ending the tour on a trail into the centre of Bukoba.
This day tour is 69 km long and with 1020 metres of difference in altitude requires good fitness. Especially the frequent change between descents and at times steep ascents can be exhausting and some mountains may have to be pushed.
Technically, the tour only includes one difficult section at the beginning, where you descend through scree from the waterfall to the valley. For those interested, there is a technical downhill trail to Kabuhara Beach that can be easily bypassed on the dirt road without any problems.
A few spots on the cliff at the end of the day require a head for heights and good riding technique but also can be bypassed.
Trail at the upper rim of the Bugonzi Waterfall with great views of the valley
Across uninhabited swamplands, this tour takes you over hills and valleys, you will visit ancient cave paintings, pilgrimage sites and also water tanks for primary school children built by Jambo Bukoba.
Katoma (Start) – Kashambya – cave paintings near Mugana – Mugana B Primary School – Swamplands – Join B8 near Kashaka (End)
This tour starts in the village of Katoma. The first few kilometres are downhill on a tarmac road passing a settlement and banana groves. Soon the tarmac road turns into a dirt road that blends well into the characteristic rust-brown colour of the soil. After a little up and down you reach a crossroad in Kashambya. From here a descent follows with first views of the swamp, which is crossed using a wide road. At the edge of the next village you will find an abandoned house, from where you can walk a few minutes and discover small caves with old cave paintings.
Back at the bikes again, the tour can continue. Soon you reach the Mugana B primary school, where a water tank built Jambo Bukoba for the children can be visited. Just a few minutes away from the school is also the Mugana Parish and the nearby pilgrimage site of Nyakijoga, where a shrine in honor of the Virgin Mary has been built.
Continue through hilly landscapes to the last “swamp crossing”. Narrow footbridges lead right through the middle of the reeds. In some places the bike has to be pushed. It is easy to see why with this dense vegetation, the crossing is only possible in a few places.
After the swamp and the last two climbs there is a leisurely descent down into the valley to the B8 main road, where the tour ends.
With 38 kilometres and 510 metres of difference of altitude, the tour is a moderately difficult mountain bike tour.
There are some short stretches through the swampland where narrow wooden bridges have to be crossed. The braves one ride across them or simply walk across them.
Mugana B primary school with water tank built by Jambo Bukoba