Children Of The Rainmaker

One of Ukerewe's most famous sons is Aniceti Kitereza (1896-1981), actually born near Mwanza on the mainland, but grandson of a Ukerewe chief. After a career spent as a translator (he read or spoke eight languages, including Greek and Latin), Kitereza set out to write the biography of his grandfather, King Machunda. The two-volume work - currently available only in German as Die Kinder der Regenmacher (Children of the Rain-maker) and Die Schlangentoter (The Snake-killer) -weaves priceless strands of local mythology, folk tales and traditional customs into the main family chronicle. Kitereza wrote originally in Kikewere, and later translated his work by hand into Swahili, though he did not live to see the book published.

Once across the Mwanza Gulf, the main towns of interest en route to Bukoba are Geita and Biharamulo.

Geita has gained prominence in recent times as the centre of Tanzania's now booming gold mining industry - gold was first found in the area in the early 20th century. The town itself is nothing much, but has decent infrastructure and an array of inexpensive hotels. For something a bit nicer, try Hotel Erin (r Tsh23,000) on the edge of town, with clean rooms with hot water and a garden.

About 120km further on along a still un-rehabilitated road is Biharamulo, a small and dusty but oddly appealing old German colonial settlement. The fortified German boma, perched up on a hill just outside town, was renovated some years ago as a simple guest house. It's currently closed, but worth checking out, at least to see if you can camp. Otherwise, it is worth trying the basic Savannah Guest House (r without bathroom Tsh4500) or the better Robert Hotel (r Tsh6500), both in the town centre.

Biharamulo is a minor transport hub, and it's easy to get onward transport to Lusahunga -another regional transport hub - with onward connections to Nzega, Kigoma, and the Burundi and Rwanda borders. Southeast of Biharamulo, along the road from Geita, is the turn-off to reach Nyamirembe and then Muganza village - a potential jumping off point for Rubondo Island National Park. See opposite.

Heading north from Biharamulo, the road passes by the 1300 sq km Biharamulo Game Reserve, and the adjacent (to the west) Burigi Game Reserve. Neither reserve has tourist facilities, although it is reported that animal populations, particularly in Burigi, have made somewhat of a comeback after suffering severely with the large refugee influxes in the area during the 1990s. Roan antelopes, topis, impalas, waterbucks and sitatungas are present, as are elephants, giraffes, zebras and more.

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