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Exploring Tanzanian Rivers: A Journey Along Tanzania’s Lifelines

caWe might be a bit biased, but Tanzania has it all: safaris, waterfalls, mountains, and… drumroll please… rivers! Tourists are often attracted to conquer mountains and explore rainforests, and little do they know that rivers are home to diverse wildlife like crocodiles, hippos, and countless birds. So, without further ado, let’s explore the longest rivers that wind through this East African country.

6 Major Rivers in Tanzania

Tanzanian rivers offer plenty of opportunities to explore both birdlife and marine life. Apart from catching sight of inconspicuous crocodiles, visitors can enjoy various boat cruises, hike along the shore and savour delicious breakfasts on the riverbank while feeding the turtles and fish.

Rufiji River

No matter if you have already been to Tanzania or not, you’ve probably heard of the Rufiji River – the country’s largest river that spreads throughout the southern part. It’s 603 kilometres (375 miles) long, formed by the confluence of the Kilombero and Luwegu Rivers and flows into the Indian Ocean. For foreigners, the Rufiji River may seem like a potential for hydroelectric power generation and a good source of water for irrigation or personal use. However, locals take pride in this unique river and consider it their symbol of biodiversity – a rich ecosystem that is well-preserved in the area.

Hippos swimming in the Rufiji River in Tanzania

White Nile

During your Tanzania holiday, you can visit the distant source of the famous river Nile: the White Nile, or to be precise, the Kagera River that pours into Lake Victoria. The White Nile has its beginning in the mountains of Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, and after leaving Lake Victoria, it flows all the way to Khartoum, Sudan. Here it meets the Blue Nile, and together they become the mighty Nile River. If you aren’t planning a trip to Egypt any time soon, you can confidently boast of seeing or even swimming in the longest river in the whole of Africa… only at its humble beginnings, but it still counts!

Congo River

The Congo River is the second-largest river in Africa, flowing 4,374 kilometres (2,900 miles) through multiple countries. Its depth reaches 220 metres (720 feet), making it the deepest river in the world. The river’s source is in Lake Tanganyika and in the Zambian highlands, from where it makes its way through Zambia, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, and Cameroon. Craving a fact you can impress others with? Sure! It’s the only major river that crosses the equator twice.

Kalambo River

The Kalambo River has a special place in tourists’ hearts because it leads to the magical Kalambo Falls, which are the second-highest uninterrupted waterfalls in Africa. Similar to Ruvuma, the Kalambo River forms a border, but between Tanzania and Zambia. Although the river by itself is beautiful of course, it got its celebrity status due to its VIP waterfall that cascades into Lake Tanganyika.

Kalambo waterfalls surrounded by green landscape and cliffs


The Ruvuma River flows from the Matagoro Mountains in southeastern Tanzania to the Indian Ocean. Its total length is 800 kilometres (497 miles), which is quite long but cannot compete with other rivers on this list. Still, it has definitely deserved its spot, since the river partly forms a border between Tanzania and Mozambique. An initiative to build a bridge and thus connecting these two countries, was realised in 2010. Now you can be with one leg in Tanzania and with the other one in Mozambique.

Mara River

This list wouldn’t be complete without the Mara River. It begins in Narok County in Kenya and flows all the way to the Tanzanian Mara region. Every year, visitors from all over the world come there to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration, when enormous herds of animals cross the river and migrate to Kenya. The Mara River is the place to spot many wild animals, from wildebeests and zebras to hippos and crocodiles and many more.  If you manage to arrive at the place where the migration takes place, you’ll see for yourself why the Mara River has the nicknam ‘river of death.’

Countless wildebeest crossing the Mara river

Tanzanian rivers weave through diverse landscapes and serve as a primary water source for people and wildlife alike. The mighty Rufiji River flows into the Indian Ocean and is a role-model for unique biodiversity. Lake Victoria, with its Kagera River source, marks the beginning of the Nile. The Congo River spans different countries and runs so deep that scientists aren’t even sure how far the bottom is. Ruvuma and Kalambo Rivers form a border between countries, and the Mara River is a place to be during the Great Wildebeest Migration.

You want to hike along one of these rivers, take a boat tour, or simply marvel at them? Then message us and we’ll take you there.

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