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trondpg Dar es Salaam - A travel report by Trond
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Dar es Salaam,  Tanzania, United Republic of - flag Tanzania, United Republic of
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trondpg's travel reports

Dar es Salaam – more than a stopover

  12 votes
To many visitors Dar es Salaam is merely a stopover on the way to Zanzibar or one of the National Parks in Tanzania. To me, it is like a second home town, since I lived there for three years in the mid 90’ies.

Dar es Salaam seen from the sea
Dar es Salaam seen from the sea
After I moved back to Norway, I've returned to Dar es Salaam (or only “Dar” for short) on vacation almost every year. Dar is situated at the Indian Ocean coast, and is the biggest city of Tanzania. However, contrary to what many people believe, it is not the capital. Dodoma in the centre of the country took over that status in 1974 (but most of the Government offices still remain in Dar). Although Dar has always been a lively city, it is striking to see the tremendous development that the place has undergone during the past few years. A lot of big office buildings have been built in the city centre and, in the more posh suburbs, some seemingly luxurious residential blocks had grown up, a sign of the positive economic development in Tanzania.

Favourite spots:
Coco Beach
Coco Beach
In addition to the streets in the City Centre, the Msasani Peninsular is my favourite place to go. You can take a taxi there from the city centre for about 3500 Shilling (3.5 USD) (agree on the price before you enter the cab). Or you can stay in a hotel at the Peninsular, like we did the last time. You can walk around on the peninsular, and enjoy the Coco Beach. At The Slipway there are several nice bars and restaurants at the seaside, as well as good shops and a bank with an ATM. The book shop at the Slipway is very good, specialising in African literature and gift books. I have spent many afternoons in the nice air conditioned atmosphere there.

What's really great:
The best thing about Dar, is that it is the genuine African atmosphere, which is quite different from for instance Cape Town and other big cities in South Africa. To me, it is an adventure just to stroll along Samora Avenue and the back allies of the city centre. People are generally friendly, and as long as you take the basic security measures of hiding your valuables and avoiding walking in the dark, you should be quite safe.

Wedding dance in Bagamoyo
Wedding dance in Bagamoyo
If you want to buy some genuine carvings, you should visit the “Makonde market” some 15 minutes by car north of the city centre. You can watch the artists doing their work in the workshops, and the chance of making a really good deal is absolutely there if you know how to bargain.

Even if the City lies directly on the shores of the Indian Ocean, you have to get a little out of the city in order to go swimming. You can go either north of the city or south. The easiest is probably to go north if you don’t have a car to your disposal. Some 20 minutes to the north by car or bus you’ll find some nice beaches. The best thing to do is to go to one of the guarded hotel beaches, for instance Bahari Beach, where you have to pay a few shillings to stay for the day. If you have some more time to spare, I would absolutely advice you to visit Bagamoyo, the former capital of Tanganyika, a little less than an hour north of Dar. It has a lot of interesting historical and cultural sights.

Sea Cliff hotel
Sea Cliff hotel
We have stayed in four different hotels in Dar.

Palm Beach is cheap and ideally located close to the city centre. However, I have become too old to accept the poor room standard they offered.

At the other end of the scale you find Sea Cliff hotel, a rather expensive and luxurious hotel of international standard, but with no real African atmosphere.

A good alternative is Q-bar and guesthouse, a mid range guesthouse on the Msasani Peninsular. The rooms are clean and spacious, and the breakfast was very good. You can use the swimming pool at Karibu hotel next door for a few shilling. If you don’t mind the somewhat dubious female clientele in the open air bar downstairs and the noise from live music a couple of nights a week, this is really a good alternative.

However, my favourite hotel is the hotel at The Slipway, especially because of the safe surroundings and the services available.

You'll find contact information for the hotels in my traveltips.

Kilimajaro baridi
Kilimajaro baridi
There are lots of open air bars along the roads and streets. Just stop at one of them an enjoy a Tanzanian beer, it is both cheap and good. Kilimajaro and Serengeti lager are my favourites, but the stronger Safari, which most of the locals prefer, is also very good. "Jambo, bia baridi moja tafadali" means Hello, could I have a cold beer please in Swahili.

The Slipway
The Slipway
While the local beer is of a high quality, the local cuisine probably doesn't appeal very much to most westerners. At The Slipway you will find a variety of nice restaurants with Italian, Japanese and other types of food. A really nice place to have your lunch or dinner!

If you have spent a day in the heat of the city centre, Sno'Cream Ice Cream Parlour is a cool place to relax with a banana split or another of their delicious ice cream specialities.

Other recommendations:
Lion in Mikumi
Lion in Mikumi
Take the boat from the Slipway to the "Robinson Crusoe island" Bongoyo. Fantastic!

Most people who visit Tanzania would like to go on safari to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. However, if you go via Dar, and if you have only one or two days to spend on safari Mikumi national park is a really good alternative, only about 5 hours by car from Dar.

Published on Wednesday June 9th, 2004

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Wed, Mar 28 2012 - 03:53 PM rating by shervin19

takk!!!! I've never knew them!

Sat, Nov 12 2005 - 07:31 PM rating by jorgesanchez

I think this one is your best report. Esplendid!

Thu, Jun 10 2004 - 06:21 AM rating by marianne

I thoroughly enjoyed this journal. I quite agree that Dar is worth a visit and should not be seen as a transit point to Zanzibar

Thu, Jun 10 2004 - 12:40 AM rating by britman

Excellent report from someone who knows the City well. I really enjoyed reading it and getting a genuine insight. Many thanks, Brit

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