Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Distant Guide Dar es Salaam: Tanzania’s vibrant commercial hub
Welcome to one of the great African cosmopolitan hubs! Elegantly combining the city’s historic spaces with the needs of one of the fastest growing cities in the world, ‘Dar’ has become a leading city in the arts, fashion, and music. Its spectacular Indian Ocean location only adds to the prestige of a city that is not only comfortable but also proud of its past, present, and future.
Dar Es Salam has a wide range of things to see - from the gothic St. Joseph’s Cathedral, to the bustling fish market where culture comes alive, to Coco beach and plenty of monuments!
Shop at the Mwenge Woodcarvers Market, get cultured at the National Museum, hike through national parks, visit nearby towns and soak the sun at one of the beaches.
Dar Es Salam’s cuisine has long been inspired by African and Indian influences - from the spices, to the flavors - to create an incredible gastronomic journey for you.
Some hotels will offer great views of the Indian Ocean, while others will offer you a proximity to the center of town.
Flights & Transport
Flight costs are annoyingly unpredictable. You’ll save the most money if you book 3-6 months out. There is a decent bus connectivity between major cities and being a coastal city, ferries are also widely used.
Although we advise you to book some of your hotels and excursions before you depart, it’s always to keep some things spontaneous! Allow yourself the flexibility (and the budget!) to go on an exciting adventure to the Kunduchi ruins or spend a fun-filled evening at the Oyster Bay
Insurance & Passport
Give yourself peace of mind, and take out some travel insurance for your trip. Although Tanzania is a safe destination and you will be taking necessary precautions, it’s still best to be covered for the unexpected. Be sure to inform your insurance company if you plan to do some adventure sports.
Most of the citizens, including the US citizens can avail visa on arrival after landing in Tanzania. Check the documents required for entry at your respective embassy websites. Make sure your passport is valid for three months after departure and you have two blank pages for stamps.
A few months before your trip is the best time to secure your flights, tours and accommodations. Take a look at our hotel and activity recommendations for each location and book now to ensure your trip is exactly what you want it to be! This way, you’ll save a lot of time and stress. Plus, you’ll avoid the disappointment of your favorite places and activities being sold out.
It’s important to know the difference between a power adapter and power converter. An adapter is a basic tool that retrofits your US plug to ‘adapt’ to the outlet in the wall. This is what you’ll use to charge your phone and camera. Tanzania uses type D and G plugs while in the US, type A and B plugs are used. A power converter transforms the current to match the voltage coming from the wall. Keep in mind that the voltage in Tanzania is 220 volts; much stronger than the 110 volts in the US, so don’t forget that adapter!
For an in-depth look into Dar Es Salam’s culture, we recommend going to the National Museum and House of Culture.
Take the time to visit the surrounding villages.
If you’re going to be visiting any of the surrounding villages, make use of the railway.
Make sure you travel in groups at night.
Coco Beach in Oyster Bar is one of the liveliest places to hang out in (during both, morning and evening)
Make sure you check out the Jitokeze, a street art project with twenty walls all around the city that promote art among the youth.
• Traveling light is always ideal. Roll your clothes to save space and avoid creases. If you want to take it to the next level, use vacuum compression bags to maximize space.
• Choose your footwear wisely. Bring a pair of walking boots for hiking and trips out into the beautiful scenery. Pack sandals for the beach, and a pair of comfy sneakers or canvas shoes for walking around town
. • Try to blend in as much as possible. Flashy outfits might make you stand out as a tourist and attract unwanted attention from vendors.
• Pack your shampoo, toothpaste and any other liquids in ziplock bags in case they spill in transit. However, these are items you can always acquire once you’re in Tanzania
. • Don’t forget your sunscreen, aftersun and sunglasses. The sun is quite intense in certain parts of the country, so take care of your skin.
• You’re going to encounter some beautiful beaches, so make sure you pack your swimming gear.
• Remember your camera, charger, memory card and power adapter. Be well equipped to capture all of the beautiful sites when wandering the city
• Tanzania Travel Guide | Tanzania travel guide and offline maps
• Tripadvisor | a favorite resource for finding off-the-beaten-path restaurants and things to do. However, all reviews are subjective, so don’t obsess over scores
• Whatsapp | free text messaging to other Whatsapp users
• NobelApp | make cheap calls locally and back home
Transit Booking Sites
• skyscanner.com | easy to use website for finding low air fares
• google.com/flights | helpful fare prediction technology
• bus.co.tz | for bus timetables and bookings for Tanzania
• www.zanzibarquest.com/ferries-flights/ferry-dar-es-salaamzanzibar.html | ferry between Dar and Zanzibar
• www.tanzaniatransfers.com/ | Tanzania airport shuttle service, taxi, and coaches
Tip your guide anything between $3 to $5 and even though it’s not expected to tip waiters, a 10% tip is always appreciated.
As soon as you step off the aircraft the warmth of Dar— both climatic and cultural will envelop you. Coming from the Arabic for ‘place of peace’, Dar es Salaam lives up to its name, being a laid back and welcoming city despite its size. Situated around a natural harbor on East Africa’s Indian Ocean coast, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the city’s palm-lined beaches in between exploration of Dar’s history, culture, and nightlife.
The Julius Nyerere International Airport, named after the country ’s first independence-era president, is the country’s principal airport. It lies just 7.5mi southwest of the city center. The most convenient way of getting from the airport to the city center is by private taxi, which you’ll find waiting outside the arrivals hall.
HIT THE STREETS
Having taken some time to settle into your hotel and relax, pull on a good pair of shoes and head down to street level to discover some of the city center’s historic buildings. Seeking out structures such as the simple whitewashed walls and red roof of the German-built Azania Front Lutheran Church, you’ll soon realize that Dar’s historic sights are all located within a small part of the city, making exploration all the easier. You’ll also get your first real chance to view the warm clear blue waters of Indian Ocean, and gaze towards the Zanzibar archipelago, which you’ll visit later.
CHOICE OF CUISINES
Once the sun has set and its populace has left their workplaces, the center of Dar takes on a different ambiance. The air fills with laughter, music and the scent of spices. With the diverse ethnic mix, you will find tempting cuisines from all across
Morning and Afternoon
ENJOY THE HISTORIC SITES
To help better understand the history of not only Dar es Salaam but also of Tanzania more generally, you can do much worse than head to the National Museum on Shabban Robert Street. Housed within a building originally dedicated to British monarch George V, themes range from the German and British colonial periods right back to the earliest days of man. Perhaps the most famous exhibits are bone fragments dug up by anthropologist Louis Leakey at Olduvai. It belonged to Paranthropus boisei, an early human ancestor that dates back at least 1.4 million years.
Not far away you’ll find the Botanic Gardens. The perfect place to relax and reflect, this place was established in 1893 and is filled with local and imported plants, including the rare coco-de-mer palm from Seychelles.
Folk evenings are a regular event in Dar, specially arranged to provide tourists with the chance of experiencing traditional African dance routines in a relaxed and informal setting. The best way to discover more is to ask at your hotel. Alternatively, head to one of the city’s nightspots for more modern forms of dance!
This is your last day in Dar es Salaam, so today is the day to tick off that activity or attraction you learned about while in Tanzania and want to see or do. For example, you may be interested in visiting The Makumbusho Cultural Centre & Village Museum. Located on the outskirts of the city, the museum showcases the traditional dwellings of 16 different tribal groups that live across Tanzania.
Having exhausted the main cultural activities that Dar has to offer, this afternoon is the perfect time to head to the beach. Oysterbay Beach (more commonly known as Coco Beach) is a rare example of an area of white sand. Mbezi Beach is another well-loved part of the Tanzanian coast, and close to many hotels and international restaurants.
If you’d rather explore Dar’s shopping opportunities, the Kariakoo district has a mix of bazaars, shops and merchants’ stores.
With sports playing an important part of everyday life in Tanzania why not check out a soccer game? The good-natured crowds will show you a good time, celebrating wildly whenever their team scores a goal. Elsewhere, the Mama Africa school produces some of the continent’s finest acrobats and frequently puts on shows.
Hire a car or arrange a taxi to Bagamoyo, a town that dates its origins to the eighth century. Once a major port linked to the slave trade, and later the capital of German East Africa, Bagamoyo is of significant historic interest. A starting point for many explorations of Africa.
ARRIVAL IN BAGAMOYO
Without enduring the hassle and delay of public transport, the easiest way to reach Bagamoyo, 40 miles north of Dar es Salaam, is to hire a car. The road is in good condition, and having your own vehicle gives you the freedom to come and go as you please. Alternatively, arrange a taxi.
Bagamoyo is even easier to explore on foot than Dar es Salaam. However, if you’re also interested in visiting the ruins at Kaole, you will need vehicle transportation or be ready for a 2-3mi walk. Kaole was founded around 800 AD and grew into an important trading post. Today, the ruins include the remains of two mosques and 30 grand Muslim tombs.
Bagamoyo itself began to grow from the seventeenth-century but remained a small fishing port until more than a century later. Translating, rather beautifully, as ‘lay down your heart’ from the local Swahili, the town became the first capital of German East Africa. In its time it has welcomed some of the greatest European explorers of Africa, from Richard Burton to David Livingstone, whose body was laid out in the Old Church after his death.
Other historically-important buildings include the Mission Building and German Garrison. The town’s main street is also lined ancient, slowly crumbling buildings of Arab design.
RETURN TO DAR
With the growth of the tourist industry in Bagamoyo there is an increasing number of restaurants to choose from in the town, should you rather eat here than back in Dar. Either way, it is advisable to have completed the journey before nightfall since the road is unlit.
Whether you have traveled to Bagamoyo by hire car or taxi, you have the flexibility to depart whenever you desire. Make sure you return to your hotel in enough time to get your bags ready for your departure to Zanzibar’s Stone Town tomorrow morning.
BOAT RIDE ACROSS TO ZANZIBAR
Daily flights connect Dar with Zanzibar’s international airport, with flights lasting just half an hour. The more traditional way to reach Stone Town, Zanzibar’s ‘capital’, is by ferry, with several departures each day. The sea voyage takes about two hours, with ferries docking at the port of Malindi, just a stone’s throw from the heart of Stone Town.
RELAX IN PARADISE
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 2000, Zanzibar’s main city reflects the diverse influences that underlie the archipelago’s culture. Its architecture shows a unique mix of Arab, European, Persian and Indian origins, a fact particularly well demonstrated by the richly carved and adorned doors for which Zanzibar is famed. Whether arriving by air or by sea, check into your Stone Town hotel and get something to eat. All the significant international hotels are located within easy reach of the town’s main streets and thoroughfares.
DINE LIKE A SULTAN
Each evening as night falls Forodhani Gardens, on the sea front by the port and immediately in front of the House of Wonders and Old Fort, is the scene of a lively food market. Lit by flickering lanterns, this is the place to sample traditional island foods such as flame-grilled seafood or Zanzibari pizza, while homely favorites including Mars bars and cans of Coke are also available.
Stay close to Forodhani Gardens first thing and pay a visit to the House of Wonders. A museum celebrating Zanzibari and Swahili culture in all its forms, the building was formerly the residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar, who ruled the island for a hundred years until the revolution in 1964. The Palace Museum nearby, in another royal residence, tells the story of the Sultan’s daily life through the family’s personal possessions.
A short walk will bring you to the towering Anglican cathedral, built on the site of one of Africa’s largest slave markets. The altar is positioned at the exact spot where the main whipping post once stood, while to one side is a crucifix carved from the tree beneath which David Livingstone’s heart was buried. An evocative monument to slavery, as well as a museum is located beside the church.
As you explore the narrow winding streets, take the opportunity to pick up some last minute souvenirs. Woven raffia products, batik-like fabrics, and spices are all easily purchased – the archipelago was once the world’s leading exporter of cloves and competes with the Moluccas for the title of the Spice Islands.
Although some international airlines fly out of Zanzibar International Airport, it’s likely you’ll have to return to Dar es Salaam for your flight home. As with your arrival, your options for returning to mainland Tanzania are by 30-minute flight or two-hour ferry journey. If you get queasy at sea we definitely recommend flying!
Before departing you might just have an hour or so in which to explore further. If you haven’t already, visit the Old Fort, constructed in the seventeenth century to defend the town against attack. It didn’t quite work, with Zanzibar being the location of the shortest war in history, lasting just 6 minutes!
Whatever you do, don’t go too far, you won’t want the stress.