The Kagera region is the commercial, historical and spiritual home of Kiroyera Tours, which is why you are in safe hands when we organise a tour for you. We are committed to helping you discover our beautiful region (its people and wildlife, its cultures and heritage, its peacefulness and vibrancy) in ways that will stay in your heart forever.
The Kagera region lies in the north western corner of Tanzania, just south of the equator. It covers a total area of 40,838 square km (similar in size to Switzerland), of which approximately two thirds is land and one third is covered by the waters of Lake Victoria, Ikimba and Burigi, and the Ngono and Kagera rivers. It lies 3,750 feet above sea level and agriculture still remains an important part of its economy including the cultivation of coffee, bananas, vanilla, tea, cotton, tobacco and maize.
Kagera comprises of five administrative districts: Bukoba, Muleba, Karagwe, Ngara and Biharamulo. The regions neighbours are Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and across Lake Victoria lies Kenya. This location makes Kagera an ideal stop for tourists wanting to explore the heart of Africa or need to travel easily between these countries.
Bukoba is the capital of the Kagera region and today is Tanzania’s second largest port on Lake Victoria. It traces its roots back to 1890 when Emin Pasha (Eduard Schnitzer), a German doctor, administrator and traveller, arrived on the western shores of the lake with the aim of establishing a German foothold in the region.
Kagera was formally known as the West Lake Region, being renamed after the war between Tanzania and Idi Amin of Uganda. The region takes its name from the Kagera River which flows from Rwanda through northern Tanzania, before it enters the waters of Lake Victoria to emerge as the river Nile (thus making the Kagera River the true source of the River Nile!).
For five centuries the Kagera region had 9 different Kingdoms (Kihanja, Karagwe, Kiziba, Misenye, Bugabo, Kyamtwara, Ihangiro, Bukara and Biharamuloand) and was a highly hierarchical society. Women of the time were thought to be inferior to men and were treated as virtual slaves. Kings lived in elaborate palaces and were viewed as having a direct link to god.
The demise of these kingdoms came with European colonisation and the spread of christianity – Germany colonised Tanganyika in 1890 and later Great Britain. Their ultimate end came after Tanzania gained its independence and President Nyerere saw independent kingdoms as detrimental to creating national unity.
The Haya people were some of the earliest inhabitants of the area and they have been linked to one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of all time – the invention of steel, which it is believed they started forging 2000 years ago! The innovative Haya people also valued formal education earlier than other tribes with the region has producing many great political, literally and religous figures.
Kagera is considered to be the first area where Lutheran missionaries settled and became famous for yielding the first African Roman Catholic Cardinal the late Laurian Rugambwa. It is a region known for its diversity, tolerance and understanding with impressive cathedrals, mosques, jamats and churches built in equal measure.
Kagera experiences a pleasant climate with an average temperature of 20° to 30°C throughout the year, although it can drop as low as 10°C at night in the rainy season.
The region has two rain seasons with heavy rain falls from March to May and short rains from October to December. During the rainy season however, it usually rains only in the morning and can brighten up later into a lovely day!
Kiswahili is Tanzania’s national language and is spoken throughout the country, however most people speak their own tribal language as well. In Kagera, Kihaya is the main tribal language and to grasp a few words in the local dialect when visiting the region is much appreciated by the community!
|Good morning/ afternoon/ evening/ night||Habari ya asubuhi/ mchana/ jioni/ usiku|
|A respectful greeting to elders, actually meaning “I hold your feet”||Shikamoo|
|Their reply: “I am delighted”||Marahaba|
|How are you?||Habari yako?|
|I am fine||Nzuri / Sijambo|
|How are things?||Mambo?|
|Good / cool / cool & crazy||Safi / poa / poa kichizi|
|See you later||Tutaonana baadaye|
|Welcome! (Welcome again!)||Karibu! (Karibu tena!)|
Kagera Museum, Bukoba: “This small but worthwhile museum mixes a collection of local tribal items with photographs of wildlife from the Kagera region; drums, handbags and other crafted items are on display”. (Lonely Planet guide book)
Islands of Bukoba: Close to Bukoba is Rubondo Island which is home to a number of indigenous mammal species – hippo, vervet monkey, genet and mongoose – who share their beautiful protected habitat with introduced species including chimpanzees, black-and-white colobus monkeys, elephant and giraffes. Rubondo also protects precious fish breeding grounds and is a bird watchers paradise.
Explore the forests: There are a number of natural forests in Kagera: Burigi, Biharamulo and Ibanda which all have been declared reserves. They are home to elephants, hippos, reedbuck, steinbuck, zebra, sable, roan antelope, sitatunga, topi and colobus monkeys.