Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ferry trip to Nansio, Ukerewe Island

We used the Easter break, a week without classes and teaching, to explore our surroundings here in Mwanza. One of the things we looked forward to doing was to take a ferry ride to one of the nearby islands on Lake Victoria. We had planned to take the ferry to one of the bigger islands, Ukerewe, on Tuesday, but that morning it was raining so hard that we decided to postpone the trip a day or more. For Wednesday we had expected a visit from some colleagues, but when that fell through decided to go ahead with the ferry even though it was raining a bit in the morning. So we packed a picnic lunch and headed for the docks early in the morning, to catch the 9 am ferry.

It was rather overcast leaving Mwanza, but the rain had stopped

It was a passenger boat with no vehicles, so the loading did not take long. We were off; we sailed for quite a while with land and/or islands on both sides. Lake Victoria is a huge lake, but we were always within sight of land. Yet there were times when we saw mostly water on the horizon.

Some of these islands looked habitable. 

But this one had the same kind of bare rock formation which we find all around Mwanza; in fact, it reminds us of the rocky outcroppings around Jos in Nigeria

The trip took about three hours; it was pretty slow, actually, so we could enjoy just being out on the lake, seeing the islands around us and other boats out on the lake.

These sailboats are used for fishing, which is main industry on lake

We rode on the upper deck of the ferry, so we remained protected from rain or sunshine.

Wendy at our table on the upper deck

In fact, the day cleared, and by noon the sun was shining. By 12.15 we arrived at our destination, Nansio, not a very big town.

Approaching Nansio

After reserving tickets for the return trip we took a walk into town. We did not have much time - loading for the return trip was at 1.30 - but we also found there was not that much to see, certainly without taking a taxi and going to one of the resorts of which we had read; the town was as 'scruffy' as the tour book said it was. Most of the picnic ingredients we had taken were already exhausted by our arrival at Nansio, so we were happy to find a fairly decent small restaurant. It was clean, and the food arrived within five minutes of ordering. So we had our warm meal. When we returned to the ferry, going back with the same one on which we arrived, we found out that food had been prepared for the passengers (2 pm. is the normal time for lunch here).

Adrian, after lunch, ready to board ferry for return trip

The return trip took about the same amount of time as the trip going. As we went, it got more sunny, so the lake looked different, the water was more blue.

Leaving Nansio

Adrian on board, a relaxing day

People even sat on deck during the return trip

Rocky coastline

Near Mwanza

Views of Mwanza from the lake

Bismarck rock, seen from the lake 

We got back to Mwanza just after 5 pm. We were exhausted - from what? sitting? But we found the trip worthwhile, expanding our horizons just a bit, especially since the lake is certainly the dominant and most interesting feature of Mwanza. For trivia lovers, it is the second largest freshwater lake in the world.

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