To visit Mwanza is to head off the traditional tourist trail of Tanzania. Here, on the coast of Lake Victoria, commercial ships fish for Nile perch and sardines that will be sold across Africa; every year Tanzanians flock to Mwanza for work opportunities. Explore this thriving and interesting city with a stop at the Mwaloni fish market (where you'll also find produce brought in from villages around the lake) and take in the pretty views of Lake Victoria. Bismarck Rock, a tall boulder balancing atop a jumble of rocks out in the lake, can be visited en route to the ferry terminal. Ferries carry passengers across the lake to Bukoba and points along the shore. From Mwanza, it’s also possible to hop a train across the country to Dar es Salaam, but be warned—it’s regularly delayed for as many as 12 hours.
Sure, lots of folks visit the land of the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro or Zanzibar (oh, Zanzibar) but few venture over to the Lake Victoria side. Mwanza will be your starting point (daily flights from Nairobi and Dar), and it's a unique, even-for-Africa, cross-cultural experience—mainly an Indian influence. The coastline is worth exploring, the fish markets are great, the fresh-caught fish is superb, and the locals are very open to your visit along the way.