From other travellers, I’d heard about a pre-first world war German vessel plying its trade up and down Lake Tanganyika. It sounded like an interesting way to traverse the lake from Kigoma in Tanzania to Mpulungu in Zambia. The story of how the >100 year old MV Liemba was fabricated in Germany, shipped by sea to Dar Es Salaam and then by Railway to Kagoma is on the can be found on the Marine Services Co. website.
MV Liemba today
Trying to find current information on the sailing schedule, costs and availability of the MV Liemba was not been easy. Eventually, i was pointed towards the recently updated Marine Services Co. website which has background information on the vessels, contact information and identifies that the MV Liemba runs a weekly service in each direction (all prior information said bi-weekly).
Trying to call the Kagoma office was frustrating as the line had been disconnected. I was told by Brisbane Steve that the MV Liemba has been out of service since the beginning of May 2014. Calling the office in Kampala (with the help of Ian, that got beyond the “hello” – cut off), i was informed that it would be back in commission within a week (by the 30th June 2014), though would not hold my breath on this date.
Arriving in Kigoma on 1st July, I visited the offices of MSCL and was told by the General Manager that the ferry will not be running until at least the 15th July 2014. For me, this means my romantic dreams of a cruise along the lake is replaced by 600km of dusty road which runs parallel with the lake shore.