- Encounters with locals
- Place or Religious Monument
For most tourists Dar Es-Salaam is where they will arrive for a trip to Tanzania. From there you need to get on a bus, a plane, a boat, or a bike or just take to your heels and leave for Arusha or Zanzibar.
Dar Es-Salaam is nothing but a great big spread out traffic jam of a town. It's nothing like the "peaceful harbour" indicated by it's name. I recently spent a night there to break a long bus trip between Arusha and Zanzibar. There are lots of rooms available for a restricted budget but none of them are very nice. To give you an example, I found myself in a cheap hotel, right next to a night club, in an area where nobody spoke English. If at all possible I suggest you try to time your arrival in town so you don't have to stay the night. The next day I had to spend a little time in town while I was waiting for the boat to Zanzibar. I took the opportunity to visit the cathedral, the road of Hindu temples and the food stalls on the port quays. And then? Well, not a lot really.
So to summarise, Dar Es-Salaam is somewhere you need to leave as quickly as possible.
I think you need to have a certain experience of African towns to appreciate Dar es Salaam: "Residence of peace" in Arabic... The image is misleading. Instead, what marked me was its traffic jams, suffocating heat, the crowd and its "organised" (to the trained eye) chaos. For these reasons, I would advise that you allow it 2 or 3 days on your programme at the end of your stay in Tanzania , if you are leaving from "Dar" airport. Your knowledge of the country and your rudimentary Swahili will surely help you to better enjoy what the city has to offer. If, however, you decide to venture there at the beginning of your trip, take advantage of this to buy a Tanzanian SIM card: always useful for keeping in touch!
There is a lot to do in Dar es Salaam : monuments, museums, etc. A trip to the fish market is also worth the detour, if your sense of smell can cope with it. To me, however, the main thing is the artistic scene, music in particular. So, when you arrive find out about the cultural agenda! What better way to discover a country and a culture than through its art?
We're not too fond of large towns, but all the same we enjoyed the calm, safe feel of Dar es Salaam. Whilst wandering around its streets, we were able to appreciate the diversity of Tanzania's population. Even if the town isn't a major tourist attraction, its colonial buildings and Moorish influences helped us learn about Tanzania's history and understand why the population is so culturally diverse. It was a great introduction to Tanzania.
You'll be just as surprised as us to see German or British style buildings and churches in an Indo-African setting. What's more, you can further explore this multi-cultural aspect by hopping on a boat to the island of Zanzibar. Within a few hours, you'll be in paradise.