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Dar es Salaam, a name that makes travellers dreamy

There are some cities in the world the sole mention of whose name rings to the ears like an invitation to travel. Dar es Salaam is one of them!

A mythical name

Simply close your eyes and measure the immediate effect that the name of Dar es Salaam has on your mind. Travel and adventure lovers inevitably get a thrill. Dar es Salaam is a mythical name the sole mention of which is an irresistible call to be off. This dream to discover the city with the mythical name is something you will be able to do while on your trip to Tanzania.

If nowadays Dodoma is the official capital and Arusha the natural point of departure for tourists on their way to the great parks like Ngorongoro or Serengeti and Kilimanjaro for example, Dar es Salaam, in addition to being the country's economic hub, remains the mythical city whose name means "Haven of peace" in the minds of all. Confess that it makes you dreamy.

You no doubt have in mind a picture of dhows sailing opposite a fishing port or that of dusty alleys where mystery can catch you off guard at any moment. To understand the reality of the situation though, the best thing is to go there and take stock of the myth for yourself.

View of Dar es Salaam's port

Dar es Salaam today

It should not take you too long on arrival in Dar es Salaam to note that the reality is quite far removed from what you imagine. For a start, from the point of view of safety, Dar es Salaam is not really the haven of peace that its name promises. When moving around you must first always find out about the level of safety in the neighbourhoods you intend to visit, even in broad daylight. Getting around on foot is to be thoroughly avoided at night. You must always take a taxi and an official one at that to be sure of running no risk.

As regards visiting, you can go and see Saint Joseph Cathedral and the Lutheran church, for example. The National Museum and House of Culture can also be interesting places to visit. As you saunter up and down the road of temples you will be under the impression that you have left the African continent and are now in India. Here you can visit the Swaminarayan.

To perceive the atmosphere which must have been Dar es Salaam's at the time when this big, permanently congested city was nothing more than a small fishing village, you have to go to the port. There you will see the dhows sailing in the distance before coming in to unload their nets full of fish. The bustle is typical and the scenes of life authentic. Here, at last is a glimpse of the Dar es Salaam that makes travellers dreamy.

David Debrincat
459 contributions
Updated 21 April 2016