OLD best times are back after the biggest passenger ship that was plying Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest fresh water body, has resumed passenger and cargo services.
After six years without services between Mwanza and Bukoba, New Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu swung into action recently. MV Victoria, as it was then called, has been refurbished to meet current lake service needs. Its journeys take place at night to early morning hours.
Boarding this ship does not only make you experience good services, but also gives you a unique opportunity to enjoy the view of Lake Victoria, which covers 59,947km2 area and is the world’s largest tropical water body and the world’s second largest fresh water lake after Lake Superior in North America.
One needs to buy a ticket at the boarding station, choosing a class according to one’s financial ability and choice. Half an hour before departure, the ship’s siren would make its warning sound which alerts travellers to have their tickets checked for boarding.
A six-hour journey starts slowly as if nothing is happening, but a few minutes later, one would notice the ship turning slowly. Later on, one would see lights starting diminishing as a sign that the ship is now very far from the mainland.
The good thing with New Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu, which has the capacity to carry 1,200 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo, is its steadiness. This is in a sense that one may walk from place to place while the ship is moving without swaying in the waves.
It has good corridors, lounges and other places for you to stretch your legs and view the lake and the land scenery. Food and beverages are available at your disposal as long as you need them at affordable prices. If you are not used to this type of travelling, it is not good for you to stare at the lake while the queen of the lake is moving.
This is because after sometime all lights on the outside are switched off and you may feel as if there is no land at all, but water only. Yes, the vastness of the lake is felt and seen. It is like the sky joins the lake and no land can be seen. It is very comfortable to travel by New Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu.
The silence of the lake and the sound of the ship as it moves bring about nice sleep as the dark night becomes real. Apart from passengers, the cargo, which include industrial products, farm produce and even cars occupy some space inside this cruising ship.
Kagera residents have nicknamed it ‘ekilagala’ which means a falling object due to its nature of docking. At 12.00am, the ship docks at Bukoba Port after sounding its siren which is heard all over the town. The sound does not only wake up boarding travellers, but also other people in the town.
It is now time for many activities between the town and the port. Travelling by ship makes you enjoy many things – to view the lake, the land scenery and the sky. The journey is not such disruptive to one’s daily routine as one sleeps at night while travelling and may go on with other issues as if nothing happened as far as the journey is concerned.
While some fish may be seen as the ship cruises, others may be served at table and sold at affordable prices. They include tilapia, sardine and Nile perch species. When you plan to visit the Lake Zone, it’s too good to miss travelling by New Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu and feel the gentle lake breeze and all that it brings to you.