Lindi is a town in the South East region of Tanzania.
Lindi is a small town situated approximately 450 kilometres south of Dar es Salaam on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Located at the mouth of the Lukuledi River, Lindi has a small harbour and has a long history as a trading centre for sisal, ivory and valuable wood. During colonial German rule, when Tanzania was known as German East Africa, Lindi was selected as the administrative headquarters of the huge Southern Province, and echoes of that time can still be seen in Lindi today. Today, this sleepy beachside town is the district capital of the Lindi region with a population of approximately 40,000 people.
Lindi has one bus station and all buses arrive and depart from there. In general, buses in Tanzania leave very early in the morning, so it always pays to organise your onward ticket the day before departure.
From Dar es Salaam: A recently completed building project has seen the town of Lindi linked to Dar es Salaam by a continuous tarmac road and makes getting to Lindi much easier than it used to be in the past. Buses leave from Dar es Salaam at regular intervals from the Ubungo, Temeke or Mbagala bus stations. The average travel time is from six to seven hours, however this can vary greatly based on the bus company. In general, cheaper companies will usually make much more frequent stops and may not leave until the entire bus is full. It is illegal in Tanzania for buses to drive at night, so buses will generally leave very early in the morning. Be wary of companies leaving late morning and after, as they will most likely drive at (even more) terrifying speeds to reach their destination before nightfall.
From Mtwara: An older but still serviceable tarmac road links Lindi and Mtwara. The road has several areas under construction, so taking a seat in the front half of the bus to avoid jarring bumps from the potholes and ungraded areas of the road is a good idea. Average travel time is between one and half to two hours.
Lindi is a great town to explore by foot. The central part of the town is relatively compact, and the beach is about 5 minutes walk from the town centre. Lindi is a safe place to walk around, and while normal caution should be exercised, visitors here can feel free to wander around Lindi's backstreets.
By motorbike taxi
Piki-piki taxis, or motorbike taxis, are everywhere in Lindi and offer a convenient and cheap way for a solo traveller to get around. However, don't expect optimum health and safety standards, it's unlikely you'll get your own helmet. A journey of around 5 to 10 minutes should cost roughly 1000 Tanzanian shillings, just make sure to describe your destination accurately and negotiate a price upfront.
If you need to transport luggage or are more than one person and would prefer to travel together, tuk-tuks are the way to go. These three-wheeled taxis operate throughout Lindi and are easy to pick up on every street corner. A reasonable price per journey is 2000 - 3000 shillings.
Lindi has an old colonial heritage, which is evident from the many crumbling colonial-era buildings dotted around the town. An old German Boma stands abandoned by the waterfront, and there are several other old 19th century buildings lining Lindi's streets. Lindi also has several large mosques, one of which has a beautifully decorated entrance way, and a Hindu temple. A stroll around town will allow you to get a sense of what Lindi used to be: an old trading centre with a strong seafaring culture, and then later on an important administrative post under colonial rule.
The long white beaches are the main attraction in Lindi, and there are several beaches located only a few kilometres out of the town itself, as well as the Lindi Beach itself. On the Lindi Beach, you can enjoy the sight of locals fishing with methods that haven't changed for centuries. In the early morning groups of young men work together to cast and draw in large nets for the prawn catch, while small dhows go out into the bay and beyond for tuna, snapper and other pelagic fish. The dhows are usually hand carved from single pieces of wood, and are wind and oar powered.
Mtema Beach is about 3 kilometres away and is the best location nearby for swimming. Tanzanians normally don't swim at all, so a group of wazungus (foreigners) is likely to attract some attention! Both women and men should dress conservatively on the beach and while in the water.
Lindi has a small market located next to the central roundabout in between Jamhuri Street and the main B2 street. For those who are self-catering, it's a great place to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as staples like ugali and rice, spices and dried locally caught fish. Several small supermarkets selling toiletries, alcohol, and grocery items can be found on Jamhuri Street and on the main road. As for handicrafts, one of Lindi's charms is that it is so far free from the army of souvenir hawkers who welcome you in many Tanzanian cities! Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere as you wander the streets of this unspoiled town.
Lindi is not a place to look for a wide variety of international cuisine, however it is a great opportunity to sample the food that Tanzanians eat everyday as staples. Several restaurants operate in the city centre, and some more cosmopolitan eateries are starting to spring up. Fishermen sell freshly caught fish and seafood every morning on the beach, and a wide range of tropical fruit can be bought at every street corner.
Apart from established restaurants, Lindi also has a large number of women who operate out of small shacks by the side of the road. They sell breakfast items such as mandazi and chapatis, as well as more substantial lunch offerings like meat stews and cooked vegetables served with rice or ugali. The usual rule applies.. if it's busy, go for it! This is the cheapest way to eat authentic Tanzanian food, and while you may get a few stares, the locals are usually very friendly and helpful.
You should stick to bottled water during your stay in Lindi, as most of the tap water comes from underground wells that are often contaminated. You can buy 0.5 and 1.5 litre bottles of water from the many small supermarkets in Lindi, and the gas stations also sell large jerrycans of water.
As for the hard stuff, Lindi is an predominantly Muslim town so there isn't a huge choice of bars and cafes. However, several beachside bars can be found where you can enjoy a beer in the evening, and there are a few restaurants that serve hot and cold drinks throughout the day. A range of local and imported beer can be found, and a few shops on Jamhuri Street and the B2 sell wine, spirits and beer that you can enjoy back at your guesthouse.
Lindi has a large number of guesthouses scattered throughout the town centre and outskirts.
Lindi has good phone and mobile internet coverage through the three main telecom providers in Tanzania, Airtel, Vodacom and Tigo. For mobile internet coverage, Vodacom occasionally approaches 3G speed, and Airtel and Tigo also offer a reasonable connection. Their offices can all be found next to the bus station, and a credit top-up can be bought at any of the small shops that line every street.
Lindi also has an internet cafe near the bus stand; ask the locals and they'll point you in the right direction.
The Litipo Forest Reserve is a small area of forest located near Rutamba village, about 40 kilometres out of Lindi. It's a beautiful peaceful area of woodland with several lakes and a wide variety of birdlife, and is one of the few areas remaining where visitors can see the original closed canopy rainforest that used to cover much of southern Tanzania. To get there, buses leave in the morning from Lindi and generally take around 3 hours to arrive, longer in the rainy season. Go to the bus station in Lindi the day before to arrange a ticket. Hitching rides on transport trucks is also an option, however these will generally take much longer to arrive than buses. There are several basic accommodation options in Rutamba, but don't expect the Ritz!