Ukerewe island

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    Ukerewe island is an island on lake Victoria and near the city of Mwanza - Tanzania. It is the largest inland island in Africa, with an area of approximately 530 square Kilometres and is famous for its large large numbers of African Albinos, many of whom where abandoned there by their families as children. In recent years, the island has become a much safer area for the minority group that has been widely oppressed and even killed due to superstitious beliefs. [1]

    The main town is Nansio and the island is also home to the Kerewe people, one of the smaller tribes of the country. Much of the houses there are rural styled houses apart from the few hotels that can be said to be struggling to stand out, something that continues to amaze many considering its proximity to city of Mwanza. Also, just like the mainland, much of the island's terrain is rocky, but there are good dirt roads that span its whole length, connecting the eastern ferry port to Nansio and the western end and although these are not the best, they are certainly better that some on the mainland


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    What to do on the island ?The main activity for tourists on the island is site seeing and exploring the many places and otherwise simple life style of the island. There are some old structures located on the island, some of which date back to 1985 like Kagunguli, the oldest Roman church. Others are the old school and dispensary (1908), the Kerewe people chief's palace (1923) and the palace of the island's former king that has a room that has remained closed for more than half a century.

    The island also has beautiful beaches, some of which offer stunning views of the mainland especially at night, when it is also almost always dead silent. Most of the people there live a peaceful and simple island lifestyle, with many of the items for sale there including food and accommodation being incredibly cheaper than on the mainland. So feel free to spend the night, just remember to book early and bring all the cash that you need as there are no ATMs.

    There are about 27 smaller islands around Ukerewe, most of which are inhabited by people - mostly farmers and fishermen, with the exception of 3. Most of these islands can be visited by taking a boat or ferry from the shore.

    Not to forget the amazing species of animals that are available there, many of whom avoid the hustle and bustle of the city nearby. There aren't any big game animals, but there are a large number of birds, some of which are as large as a 4 year old child, that can be seen constantly feeding on the lake's fish. Other species include the fish themselves, turtles and tortoise.

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    Location of Ukerewe island

    Ukerewe island is located on the Tanzanian side of lake Victoria near the city of Mwanza. The whole island is a district (Ukerewe) and is located within close proximity to the mainland, separated from Kisoria by about 3.8 Km of lake water and Mwanza city by about 45 Km. For more info on its location see the map below.

    Getting to the IslandThere are two ways of getting to Ukerewe island, one is by a passenger ship from Mwanza city (south of island), getting there after about a 4 hours ride; However, there normally is only about two passenger boats to and from the island per day both of which leave at about the same time, thus limiting possible travel times. If you are going to use this mode of transport, then it is probably likely that you would either have to spend a night on the island or spend very little time on it. If you are really keen on getting to explore the island and its surrounding areas, then this travel method is not for you.

    The other way of getting there is through Kisoria a small town in the outskirts of Mwanza. There is no bridge in this area (it's an island remember) but rather a small ferry with a to and from schedule of every hour up from 5 am to 6pm. The whole crossing takes about half an hour and even better yet, you could take your car with you.

    The only setback to this route is the distance you would have to travel to get to Kisoria itself, most of which is done on very bad pothole filled dirt roads. There is public transport to the area, but this would make you spend about half of your day in transit. The Kisoria route does offer some amazing views of Lake Victoria and would be perfect for those who have 4x4 cars (especially during the rainy season) and are looking for an adventure.

    References1. Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukerewe_Island - accessed on 29th March, 2017

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