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Basic information

  • Area: 1,590.5 km2 (614.1 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +255
  • Currency: Tanzanian shilling (TZS)
  • Population (EST): 4,364,541
  • Official language: Swahili, English
  • Time Zone: EAT (UTC+3)

10 Reasons to Visit Dar es Salaam

1. Cultural Fusion

Once the capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam stands today as the busiest port of East Africa, and a commercial and cultural hub of the country. The meaning of its name is "haven of peace", which made more sense back when it was a quiet fishing village. Today the name doesn't quite fit, being the bustling city that it is; populated by three million people. Yet still, its seaside setting and mix of African, Arabic, and Indian cultures makes it incredibly popular amongst travelers.

2. Beauty of the Port

Dar es Salaam harbour is the port to some of the world's most important sea routes. Kiyukoni Front is located on the northern section of the harbour, and has a lovely fish market where one can see the dhows sailing at dawn, bringing home the night's catch. With the eclectic architecture, showing signs of Asian, German, Swahili, and British influence, the Port is a wonderful place to take in the culture of Tanzania. It's also a wonderful spot to catch a glimpse of the rising and setting sun.

3. National Museum and House of Culture

To really catch a glimpse of Tanzania's colourful past, head over to the National Museum and House of Culture, built as a memorial for King George V in 1940. It is here that you can find fossils of some of the earliest humans, found in the Leakey digs at Olduvai Gorge. These fossils are world-renowned treasures, and of great national pride in Tanzania. This is also a great place to learn more about the tribal history of the nation, as well as the ramifications of the slave trade and colonial periods on its people.

4. Village Museum

The Village Museum provides a unique look into what village life in Africa is like. On display you will find authentic dwellings of 120 different ethnic groups. Scattered across 15 acres of land, you can walk amongst the dwellings and take a peek inside. The tribal homesteads are beautiful and interesting in construction, and have a lot to say about how tribal peoples live efficiently off the land. You can also find local artisans here creating their work from scratch. It's possible to see tribal dances and other cultural performances.

5. Askari Monument

The Askari Monument is cast in rich bronze, and portrays an Askari soldier in WWI uniform. His rifle and bayonet point out towards the harbour, standing to commemorate the troops of Africa that fought as carrier corps in the war. The famous British writer and poet Rudyard Kipling has a special inscription on the monement, that is in both English and Swahili.

6. Old Boma

Old Boma is the oldest building in Dar es Saleem, and was constructed by the sultan of Zanzibar in 1866. The Old Boma was built for guests that would come and visit the Sultan, and it's quite stunning in construction. With its famous carved wooden door that was carries all the way from Zanzibar, and its delightful coral walls, it's a great glimpse into a much older Tanzania.

7. St. Joseph's Cathedral

The gothic-style, Roman Catholic Church known as St. Joseph's Cathedral is a must see for travelers visiting Dar es Saleem. Sitting beautifully on the harbour front, the Cathedral was built by German missionaries from 1897-1902. It's memorable for its vast, vaulted interior, its soaring shingled spire, and colourful stained glass windows. Still within its walls are the original German artwork and inscriptions. The carved relief above the main alter is entirely original.

8. Botanical Gardens

The fine mix of indigenous and exotic plants at the botanical gardens is not to be missed. Walk amongst the fragrant beauty of the blue jacaranda, scarlet flame trees, red hibiscus, and purple bougainvillea. This is the only place in the world, other than its native Seychelles, which you can see the stunning coco-de-mer palm tree.

9. Azania Front Lutheran Church

The Azania Front Lutheran Church, built in 1898, stands out from other buildings thanks to its striking red-tile belfry jutting-out towards the sky, contrasted against its whitewashed facade. This is a true landmark of Dar es Saleem, and a fantastic place for weary tourists to take a rest under its tiled canopies. This was originally a German mission, and today is the seat of the diocese of the city.

10. Fun in the Sun

If you're able to take a day trip from the city, you're in perfect proximity to Bongoyo Island; a favourite getaway amongst tourists and locals. Lying on the Msasani Peninsula, you can relax in the sun, or enjoy the shade under a thatched umbrella. Businessmen come here to escape from conferences or harried business trips, and the white beaches and crystal clear waters are something to behold. Snorkeling is quite popular, as one can get a glimpse of some amazing species of colourful fish amongst the coral.

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