Dar es Salaam On a BudgetHaving grown from a fishing village, Dar es Salaam is now a major city and commercial port on Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast. While it is mainly used as a stopping point on the way to Zanzibar, it has a few unique treasures of its own such as the Kariakoo Market, National Museum, and the open-air Village Museum.
SightsFor a taste of traditional culture, visit the open-air Village Museum which re-creates the straw homes of local and other Tanzanian tribes and hosts tribal dancing. It is a part of the National Museum, which offers Tanzanian history exhibits, including the fossils of human ancestors. Also important to the city is the historical Askari Monument, located at the very center of Dar. Depicting a soldier with his bayonet pointing to the harbor, the monument is a reminder of the soldiers that fought as the Carrier Corps in World War I. Another iconic structure is the Azania Lutheran Church, which has a beautiful bell tower.
The coast of Dar es Salaam also has a trove of beaches and waterside escapes worth visiting. Coco Beach, also known as Oyster Bay, is a stretch of beach located on the Msasani Peninsula of the city, while Bongoyo Island just off the coast of Dar makes a fantastic beachside day trip. North Beach and South Beach are also popular.
NeighborhoodsThe city is divided into three municipal districts. Temeke, the largest of the three, is situated in the south. This is the more rural area of Dar city, closer to the beaches and with far less infrastructure. Kinondonu in the north is home to most of the more expensive suburban areas in the city. The embassies, newer restaurants, shopping and food areas and the more boutique styled hotels can be found here. Llala or downtown' is the central district, which has all the commerce, banking and trade, along with the bigger hotel chains. It also encompasses the port and ferry areas as well as the main markets. One of the busiest markets in Dar Es Salaam is the local Kariakoo market. It is a great place to encounter the bustle of an authentic Tanzanian shopping experience. A wide range of local crafts, food, and souvenirs can be found here, but the crowds also make it a frequent place of pickpockets so be aware of your belongings. Haggling is expected, so make sure to brush up on your bargaining to get the best deals.
ActivitiesShopping: Sought out items unique to Tanzania include tanzanite, tinga tinga paintings, carvings/crafts, and kangas (colorful dyed fabric). Visit the Mwenge Carvers' Village, Tingatinga Art Center, or Uhuru Street (for kangas).
Safari: Day trips to Mikumi National park or 3-day safaris to Selous are available from Dar es Salaam.
Hiking: Pugu Hills is a designated nature reserve located around 25 kilometers from the center of Dar Es Salaam. Along with an opportunity to hike the trails, you can also choose to bird watch or visit a cave that is famous for its colony of bats.
Food and DiningTanzanian cuisine is unique and widely varied, though coastal areas like Dar es Salaam commonly favor spicy foods and dishes that use coconut milk. One popular dish is nyama choma or roasted meat, usually goat (sometimes beef or chicken) and served with a few chilies and sometimes a tomato and red onion garnish. Also common is mishkaki, the Tanzanian version of skewered meat. The meat, usually beef or chicken, is first marinated in some spices and some tomato sauce (depending on the recipe). It is then cooked on a bed of hot coals, and served with hot chili and lime juice.
Since a large proportion of Indians have migrated into Tanzania, a considerable proportion of Tanzanian cuisine has also been influenced by Indian cuisine. As a result, many Indian restaurants can be found throughout Dar es Salaam. Perhaps most significant of the city's cultural fusion is a dish called Zanzibari Mix-a combination of Indian, Arab, and African flavors into a comforting dish of deep fried fritters in a coconut milk curry and garnished with fresh chutneys and chili sauce. A good example of this dish can be found at Mama Mumtaz restaurant in Kariakoo market. Street coffee and locally brewed beer are also great items to sample.
TransportationTanzania's main airport is located in Dar es Salaam about 10 kilometers from the city center. It is now called Julius Nyerere International Airport, though it was formerly known as Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere International Airport and Dar es Salaam International Airport. Most large hotels offer a pick-up and drop-off service upon request. International flights include:
Europe: Turkish Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Swiss International Airlines
Middle East & Asia: Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, and Egypt Air
Africa: South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Malawian Airlines, Mozambique Airlines, and many others
North Americans and Europeans can obtain tourist visas upon landing in Dar es Salaam at a cost of $50 USD. The cost for U.S. passport holders, however, is $100 USD. Visas can also be obtained before arrival from the Tanzanian High Commission/Embassy.