Dar Es Salaam Travel Guide
Introduction to Dar Es Salaam
Situated on the Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast, Dar Es Salaam (which means Abode of Peace in Arabic) has figured prominently in this nation’s long history of trade with Arabia.
Today, it serves as the main port of entry for foreign visitors looking to visit its many famed tourist attractions, and while many leave Dar as soon as possible to see these places, there are several points of interest that will make your time here worthwhile.
Cultural Attractions in Dar Es Salaam
Most travelers begin their trip to Tanzania by landing in Dar Es Salaam. While you are waiting for the jet lag to wear off, tour the halls of the National Museum. Doing so will give you the background necessary to fully appreciate the sights you’ll during your time in the country, so be sure to dedicate an hour or two to this place soon after arriving.
Top exhibits include the preserved fossils of ancient hominids (our ancient predecessors, from whom modern humans evolved), artifacts from the ancient city-state of Kilwa, and one of the royal cars of King George V of England.
If you think that your travel itinerary might not take anywhere near a traditional Tanzanian settlement, you can get a first-hand account of what rural life is like in this country at the Village Museum.
Consisting of a collection of authentic thatch huts populated by living history actors/actresses, this place is a close substitution for an actual visit to an actual Tanzanian village.
Demonstrating skills such as pottery creation, weaving, and others, you’ll get a sense how inhabitants have made a life for themselves in the Tanzanian countryside for generations. Be sure to stick around for the traditional tribal dance, which lasts an entire hour from start to finish.
If you couldn’t find the perfect souvenir during your travels in Tanzania, drop by the Tanzania Centre for Cultural Heritage when you arrive back in Dar Es Salaam.
An extensive collection of paintings, wood carvings, bronze sculptures, and other pieces of local art, chances are great that you will be able to find something that your friends and relatives back home will just love.
Other Attractions in Dar Es Salaam
Dar Es Salaam is situated on the Indian Ocean, meaning that there are plenty of amazing beaches within a short day trip of its downtown core.
The best of these will take you into the heart of the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve, which is composed of nine coral islands. These gems are surrounded by vibrant coral reefs, making for some excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities.
Above the surface of the water, standout isles such as Mbudya and Bongoyo Island are ringed by beaches that are bleach white, making for a relaxing chilling spot for tourists and locals alike.
Locally caught and cooked seafood is available for those that forgot to bring a lunch with them, and huts known as bandas can be rented for 5,000 Tanzanian shillings, allowing to retire from the strong tropical UV rays once you’ve had your fill of them.
Seafood figures prominently in the diet of many Tanzanians, making Kivukoni Fish Market a fascinating place to be on an early morning in Dar Es Salaam. Be sure to set your alarm, as the frenzied auctions kick off as early as 7 am, with local merchants bidding furiously to get their hands on the best specimens available that day.
You can also buy fish at a fixed price and have it prepared by cooks located nearby, so don’t miss this place if you love seafood enough to have it for breakfast.
The Mwenge Woodcarvers Market is another great spot for those looking to experience Tanzanian culture first-hand. A consortium of over 200 carvers that operate this marketplace as a cooperative, this is another great spot to pick up a unique souvenir for that special someone back home.
Be sure to brush up on your negotiating skills, as the artisans here are not only skilled in the art of hewing wood, but they are tough customers when it comes to getting a bargain out of them.