Tours in Tanzania - Dar es Salaam Attraction

Dar es Salaam, the ‘Haven of Peace’ of Zanzibar’s Sultan Majid bin Said, is now a bustling city with over 7 million inhabitants. A century ago it was a muddy fishing village called Mzizima, far below the settlements of Zanzibar, Bagamoyo, Tanga and Pangani in importance. Since then it has risen in life. Although no longer Tanzania’s capital city, Dar es Salaam is still the country’s main port and commercial centre

Sultan Majid of Zanzibar was completely taken by the beauty of insignificant Mzizima on a visit to the mainland in 1866. The tranquility of Kurasini creek especially caught his fancy. Without further ado, he acquired land from the native Wa-shomvi and Wa-zaramo people and built himself a palace, bringing coral stones from Changuu Island jus off Zanzibar to do so. Coconut palms were then introduced to the area and more stone houses erected, including an official rest house for the use of foreign consuls and important traders who occasionally visited the mainland.

The Sultan’s Intention had been to transfer his capital from congested Zanzibar to the more peaceful and secure port of Dar es salaam, but he died before he was ready to move his Government. His successor, Sultan Seyyid Barghash who had long held a personal grudge against his royal brother spitefully abandoned Majid’s plan. He stayed on Zanzibar and so, for time, frustrated the development of the future capital.

Two British gentlemen in liason with the reigning British consult in Zanzibar, Dr. Kirk, tried to carry on what Sultan Majid had begun. Sir William Mackinon and Sir Thomas Fowel Burton invented a road scheme aimed at providing a communication link for wheeled traffic between Dar es Salaam and Lake Nyasa. The idea was to encourage a legitimate form of commerce between the coast and the interior. Unfortunately they met with little success. The construction of what became known as Mackinon’s Road began in 1877. Four years later, a mere 112km was all that had been completed.

It was not until German occupation of the coast that the development of Dar es Salaam made any headway. At first, after forcing a commercial and protectorate treaty on the Sultan of Zanzibar, the Germans chose Bagamoyo as their admistrative capital. Bagamoyo, however, had no deep water harbor, so Tanga was proposed. Finally, in 1881, after Imperial Commissioner Wissmann’s evaluation of the potential shown by the deep and naturally safe creek at Kurasini, a decision was made to move the capital to Dar es Salaam.

Meanwhile the Lutheran and Benedictine Missionaries, who had arrived in the country in the mid 19thcentury, took the opportunity to build cathedrals in Dar es Salaam. With the backing of the German rulers, a foundation stone was laid on March 13, 1898, for the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph. On February 6, 1903, the Cathedral was consecrated, closely following the Lutheran Church on Azania Front, which was consecrated in 1902.

By 1905 some streets had begun to take shape and work had begun on railway construction. In 1906 the Kaiserhof Hotel, rename the New Africa by the British after the First World War, was built next to the Lutheran church. By the start of World War 1, Dar es Salaam was not only the commercial hub of the country, but also a town of repute on Africa’s East Coast. After the war its growth accelerated even more rapidly as the British intensified their commercial and admistrative activities in the new Trust Territory of Tanganyika.

1. Bongoyo

Bongoyo Island (or simply Bongoyo) is an uninhabited island in Tanzania, situated 2.5km north of the country's largest city, Dar es Salaam. It is the most frequently visited of the four islands of the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve and a popular daytrip for both tourists and Tanzanian residents alike for snorkeling and sunbathing. The island lies close to the Msasani Peninsula (in the Kinondoni district of the city) and is reachable by means of a 30 minute boat ride from the mainland. The point of departure for most visitors to the island is 'The Slipways' hotel complex on the western side of the Msasani Peninsula. The island has a very rocky shore and only two beaches. All visitors visit the beach at the northwestern tip of the island, where the boats moor and where there are some huts, drinks and food. The much longer but narrower beach along the northeastern side has no facilities and is mostly deserted. The entire island (apart from the beaches) is covered in dense forest and has a few walking trails, so only a few people venture there. The terrain is somewhat treacherous with sharp rocks. In the middle of the island one finds the remains of a German colonial building.

The Indian Ocean has penetrated the northern shore of the island, creating a tidal lagoon along whose shores there are some mangroves.

2. Mbudya

Mbudya Island (or simply Mbudya) is an uninhabited island in Tanzania, north of the country's capital city Dar es Salaam and is one of the four islands of Dar es Salaam Marne Reserve. The island lies close to the beach resort and fishing community of Kunduchi is reachable by means of a 20 minute motorboat ride crossing from the mainland. It is therefore a popular daytrip for both tourists and Tanzanian residents alike, serving as a location for a variety of leisure activities, including snorkeling, sunbathing and hiking.

3. Msasani

Msasani is an administrative ward in the Kinondoni district of the Dar es Salam region of Tanzania. The ward is geographically a peninsula; both the ward and the peninsula are named after the Msasani village, which used to be the only settlement in the area. The intense urbanization of the area in recent times notwithstanding, it is still essentially a Swahili fisherman’s village. Msasani includes some of the wealthiest areas in the Dar es Salaam Region, Peninsula, Oysterbay and Masaki. These areas contain shops, restaurants, beauty salons, pubs, and other entertainment facilities, as well as large bazaars selling local crafts at Slipway hotel/mall. It is also a luxury residential area, with several large villas owned by members of the Tanzanian political and economic elite. Most of these structures were built in an era of building liberalization initiated by former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Minyi. Public transportation in the area is mainly provided by daladalas, their main end stations being Msasani on Kimweri Avenue and Masaki near the Sea Cliff Hotel. From Slipway, motored dhows provide connection to the island of Bongoyo.

4. Coco Beach

Coco Beach in Msasani is a popular holiday and weekend destination for Dar es Salaam inhabitants. Coco Beach, also known as Oyster Bay, is a stretch of beach located on the Msasani Peninsula of Dar Es Salaam. If you are looking for fun things to do in Dar Es Salaam, head over to Coco Beach on the weekend when it’s packed full of local Tanzanians and Asians. There are plenty of street food snacks and sometimes live music. The open area is also a place where frequent concerts and parties take place – check the city events guide. Swimming is not really recommended at Coco Beach, though some choose to wade in the water.

5. Askari Monument

One of the most well known historical statues of significance in Dar Es Salaam is Askari Monument. 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.

The cast bronze Askari Monument is supposedly located in the precise center of Dar, in the middle of the roundabout that bisects Samora Avenue with Maktaba Street.

6. Azania Lutheran Church

Originally built by German missionaries in Tanzania, the Azania Lutheran Church is an iconic structure located at Dar Es Salaam’s harbor front. From the cathedral you’ll have easy access to other tourist attractions around town.

7. View of Dar Es Salaam

Located near the Azania Lutheran Church, you can go to the New Africa Hotel and navigate your way to the a great view of Dar Es Salaam and the harbor.

8. National Museum of Dar Es Salaam

The National Museum was established in 1940 in a traditional, Arab-style building still standing behind the newer block. The modern section was added in 1963 and is worth visiting for the displays of traditional relics, old photographs and historical and archeological collections found there. Most important are the fossil discoveries of Zinjanthropus boisei from Olduvai Gorge. Ethnographical items, such a handcrafts, witchcrafts paraphernalia and traditional tools and instruments are shown. In the Tanzanian History Section, the coast is particularly well documented through relics of Persian pottery, beads, coins, porcelain and photographs. If you want to learn more about the history and culture of Tanzania or see some of the fossils that have been uncovered in the country, you’ll be interested in visiting the National Museum. The museum is not setup in the most entertaining way, but if you are willing to read, you’ll learn quite a bit.

9. Temple Road

If you are walking around downtown Dar Es Salaam, take a stroll down Temple Road where you’ll find a selection of religious temples. There’s not much else to do, but you can visit a few of the temples and have a look around.

10. North Beach – Jangwani and Mbuja Island

North of Dar Es Salaam there are a few lovely beaches and islands to enjoy as well. From White Sands hotel in Jangwani, you can take a boat to Mbuja Island, a great place to unwind and eat freshly caught Indian Ocean seafood.

11. South Beach – Kigamboni

Seclusion, peace and quietness is how I would describe the South Beach area of Dar Es Salaam. There are a number of hotels that you can visit, or you can rent your own personal banda thatch covered hut for the day. The lanky palm trees rustling in the breeze and the rythmic wash of waves makes spending a day at South Beach one of the most relaxing things to do in Dar Es Salaam.

Get there by personal vehicle or by local dala dala minivan. You’ll need to cross to the Kigamboni side of Dar by taking the ferry across the port – the ferry ride alone is an awesome Dar experience!

12. Village Museum

More of a hands on than the National Museum, the Village Museum offers a chance to observe a number of typical style Tanzanian traditional huts and learn more about the tribes of the country. Dance and drum performances are held in the evenings on weekends.

13. Mwenge Carvers’ Village

Located on the outskirts of town, Mwenge Carvers’ Village is a great attraction in Dar Es Salaam if you are in the market for Tanzanian souvenirs.Though there is a lot of the same same type of things, if you take the time to browse around you’ll come away with some unique and quality Tanzanian handicrafts.

14. Tingatinga Art Center

Tanzanian’s have long been famous around Africa for their artwork (even on the streets of Dar). The modern movement of Tingatinga painting is one my my favorite styles of Tanzanian art. An artistic movement that began with Edward Said Tingatinga, the style is characterized by extemely bright oil colors and cartoon imaginative figures. The Tingatinga center is a rainbow of color and artistic inspiration. You can browse around and buy anything you see!

15. Kanga Shopping – Uhuru St.

A popular thing to buy in Dar Es Salaam are the colorful pieces of wrap around cloth known as kangas. These brightly dyed rectangles of fabric are available in infinite colors, with infinite patterns and often include a message written in Kiswahili. Head over to Uhuru Street in downtown Dar Es Salaam for a huge distribution selection of kangas.

16. Nyama Choma

Just like in neighboring Kenya, nyama choma (roasted meat – often goat) is wildly popular – and incredibly delicious. Go to a local restaurant, order your choice of meat and wait for it to slowly roast. In Tanzania, nyama choma is served with a few chillies and sometimes a tomato and red onion garnish.

17. Mishkaki

Mishkaki is the Tanzanian version of meat on a stick – street style shish kebabs! Marinated in a few spices, cooked on a bed of hot coals, and served with hot chili and lime juice, mishkaki is a wonderful treat.

18. Indian Food

I'm a happy man with a plate of chili paneer...

With a sizable population of Indians, there’s a decent selection of delicious Indian food available in Dar Es Salaam (just like with Kenyan food). The Upanga area, in central Dar, is one of the best areas of town to locate good Indian food.

19. Zanzibari Mix

There is one dish in Dar Es Salaam that is rare, but is a gem of an example of an expertly prepared dish that sums up the realm of cultures and traditions of the city: Zanzibari Mix. The makeshift Mama Mumtaz restaurant is not easy to find – in fact, you’ll probably have to walk to Kariakoo market and ask someone to direct you to it. Zanzibari mix is incredible – a comforting combination of deep fried fritters in a coconut milk curry and garnished with fresh chutneys and chili sauce.

20. Tanzanian Street Food

Whether it’s roasted maize or mama cooked Tanzanian chapatis, you won’t want to miss a few meals and snacks of Tanzanian street food when you visit Dar Es Salaam!

21. Tanzanian Beverages

Everywhere you travel you’ll encounter a new and unique set of local beverages. When you are in Tanzania you may want to sample the selection of locally brewed beer, have a few cups of Dar street coffee and especially guzzle a pungent Stoney Tangawizi.

After spending a few days in Dar Es Salaam you may want to visit the famous island of Zanzibar for a relaxing holiday. Be sure to read about how to get from Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar and then check out these top things to do in Zanzibar!

22. State House:

The State House is fine-looking blend of African and Arab architecture. Built by the British in 1922 on the foundations of the old German Palast, it cost 60,000 Sterling Pounds. Its extensive grounds, abounding in shrubs and trees show profusion of color. Animals and birds mainly peacocks, roam the grass. It is prohibited to photograph the State House, however, unless special permission is granted.

23. Kariakoo Market

This is the focal point of the area. It is Dar es Salaam’s major and largest market. A handsome, extensive concrete structure is rises above the low tin roofs surrounding it. Colourful is a good descriptive term for Kariakoo Market, where a diversity of dress and style is the norm. People from all walks of life congregate here to purchase necessary items, or to search for usual commodities not available elsewhere. It is well known that hardware, utensils and textiles to crafts, vegetables or medicine. A variety of fish, poultry, fruits, herbs an spices are arranged in attractive displays, while, in the underground section, fruit and vegetables brought from upcountry are piled in huge heaps.

24. Bagamoyo - Bagamoyo Town

Similar to Mombasa or Lamu, Bagamoyo town located north of Dar Es Salaam, is an ancient East African trade port. The town has been influenced by Arabs and Indians to create a uniquely Swahili culture.

On a day trip to Bagamoyo, you can visit ancient ruins, old churches and mosques and tour one of Tanzania’s only colleges of arts known as Chuo Cha Sanaa. If you don’t have your own transportation, you can get to Bagamoyo by local bus or by taking a day tour.


When you travel to Tanzania the best places to visit and enjoy a safari include Katavi, Selous, Ruaha, Tarangire and Ngorongoro. Of course, there's also the Serengeti where you can witness the great annual migration of millions of wildebeest. Some of the best beaches on earth can be found in the Zanzibar archipelago, and Mafia Island is equally idyllic. For more action, you can hike up Africa's tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. Other incredible mountains include Mahale, where you can visit the largest remaining population of chimpanzees in the wild. Explore all 10 of Tanzania's best destinations below.

1. The Serengeti, Northern Tanzania

Tanzania’s oldest and most popular national park, also a world heritage site and recently proclaimed a 7th world wide wonder, the Serengeti is famed for its annual migration, when some six million hooves pound the open plains, as more than 200,000 Zebra and 300,000 Wildebeest migrate. Apart from the migration of ungulates, the park is well known for its well known for its healthy stock of other resident wildlife; particularly the “Big Five” The Serengeti National Park offers the absolute classic African safari setting. The migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra starts here. The vast expanse of grasslands make the Serengeti fantastic for spotting lion kills because you can see the whole spectacle clearly. There are mobile camps that are worth staying at because the wildlife concentrates in certain parts of the park depending on the time of year and the rains. If you can, spend at least 4 days to make the most of it. The best time to go is between December and June, but you can't really go wrong anytime of year. A hot-air balloon ride at dawn is a truly magnificent experience.

2. Mount Kilimanjaro, Northern Tanzania.

Africa is known as one of the best destinations for adventure travel, and what can be more adventurous than hiking up the world's tallest free-standing mountain? Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, stands at 19,340 feet (5896m) and will take you 6 days to conquer. The exciting thing about this mountain is that anyone who is fit and determined can make it up. No special climbing equipment or expertise is needed.

3. Zanzibar, East coast

Zanzibar is an exotic cocktail of architectural history, secret hideaways and large resorts. However, the smaller islands f Zanzibar of which there is 18, offer visitors a chance to journey back to bygone time and experience the natural beauty of Zanzibar in privacy. Tours available are: Dolphin watching, Spice Tour, Prison Island Tour and losts more to be seen on this tropical island. Zanzibar is one of Tanzania's top destinations because of its fascinating past and its incredible beaches. Zanzibar's location in the Indian Ocean has made it a natural trading center throughout its history. Famous for its spices, Zanzibar also became an important slave trading post under its Arab rulers. Stone Town, Zanzibar's capital, is a World Heritage site and boasts beautiful traditional houses, narrow alleyways, a Sultan's palace, and many mosques.

Zanzibar has many beautiful beaches, which can be enjoyed on any budget. Some of the surrounding islands offer total paradise for the luxury traveler; Mnemba Island is absolutely idyllic for a romantic vacation

4. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Northern Tanzania

Ngorongoro Crater is the dynamic and constantly changing ecosystem. The mixture of forest, canyons, grassland plains, lakes & marshes provide habitats for a wide range of bird and animal life, estimated at over 3,000 different species. Highlights include the endangered black rhinoceros, an abundance of elephants, lions, wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, buffaloes, bushbucks, leopards, ostriches, flamingos and even the occasional cheetah. The Ngorongoro Conservation area borders the Serengeti in northern Tanzania and includes the world's largest crater which acts as a natural enclosure for almost every species of wildlife found in East Africa. This includes the very rare black rhino. The Ngorongoro Crater is where you'll witness some of the densest population of wildlife in the world and it's a truly amazing place for photographers. The Maasai still live within the conservation area, and it's also home to Olduvai where some of man's earliest remains have been found.

There are several lodges and campsites in the Conservation area.

5. The Selous, Southern Tanzania

The Selous is Africa's largest reserve, a world heritage site, and not as crowded as the Serengeti. You can see elephants, cheetahs, black rhinos, African hunting dogs, and plenty of hippos and crocodiles. The Selous swamps, rivers and wetlands allow tourists to take their safari by boat, which is a big draw. Walking safaris are also popular here and you can also enjoy night drives.

Accommodations in Selous and surrounding areas are somewhat limited but all offer a very intimate and unique safari experience.

6. Tarangire National Park, Northern Tanzania

Tarangire is a popular day trip for those following a standard northern safari itinerary, but its baobab dotted landscape and numerous dry river beds are worth much more time. During the dry season (August to October) Tarangire has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Tanzania. It's an excellent spot for those who love watching elephants, zebra, giraffe, impala and wildebeest.

Tarangire is a good place to enjoy a walking safaris and an excellent birding destination. Be prepared to swat tsetse flies here, at certain times of the year they can get annoying.

Accommodations in Tarangire include lodges, campsites and luxury tented camps.

7. Katavi, Western Tanzania

Katavi has all the credentials of being a top wildlife destination in Africa. It is teeming with animals, beautiful and unspoiled. The reason Katavi sees so few visitors is because it is so remote. This is a good reason to visit if you're looking for a unique safari experience since there are only two camps and it's only accessible by light aircraft. Check out Chada Katavi it's an excellent camp (but not cheap).

Katavi is best during the dry season (June to November) where the pools are literally filled to the brim with as many as 3000 hippos.

8. Ruaha National Park, Southern Tanzania

Ruaha is remote, large, and full of wildlife -- especially elephants. There are also lions, cheetah, leopard, lots of kudu and almost every other African mammal you'd like to see. The park is home to the Great Ruaha River and it's here during the dry season (May to December) that you get some spectacular game viewing.

Ruaha is only accessible by light aircraft and it's suggested you stay at least 4 nights to make it a worthwhile trip. This also gives you enough time to explore this huge area of unspoiled African wilderness. Luckily the accommodations in Ruaha mean it's a pleasure to spend several nights.

9. Mafia Island, East Coast (Indian Ocean)

With less than 1000 visitors per year, Mafia Island is an undiscovered Tanzanian gem. It has a rich history, and a strong Swahili culture unspoilt by tourism. Much of the island and its beautiful beaches have been designated as a marine park. It is one of the best places to deep-sea fish, dive and snorkel in Africa. You can watch whale sharks, turtles and many other interesting species of wildlife.

There are about half a dozen boutique hotels and intimate resorts to stay at. They include the eco-friendly and intimate Kinasi Lodge; Pole Pole; and Ras Mbisi Lodge.

You can reach Mafia Island by plane from Dar es Salaam.

10. Mahale Mountains, Western Tanzania

Mahale was the research base for a team of Japanese anthropologists for several decades. Despite the gorgeous clear waters of Lake Tanganyika and the obvious draw of the chimps themselves, Mahale was not an established tourist destination until about decade ago. It's still remote, but absolutely worth the trip. Besides the 1000 chimps, there are other primates to see too, including the red colobus and yellow baboons.

The best time to visit Mahale is during the dry season from May to October. A visit to Mahale is often combined with at least a few nights in Katavi. Mahale is linked by chartered aircraft to Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Kigoma.