Dar es Salaam
Pembwe and the Southeast : Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam (Haven of Peace in Arabic) was founded in 1862 by Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar on the site of the village of Mzizima. Mzizima's history dates back to the time when the Barawa people started to settle and cultivate the area around Mbwa Maji, Magogoni, Mjimwema, Gezaulole and Kibonde Maji Mbagara.
Present day Dar es Salaam's origins have been influenced by a myriad of sultans, the Germans and the British. The city started as a fishing village in the mid 19th century, is now Tanzania's largest city, and has become one of East Africa’s most important ports and trading centers.
With its great atmosphere, mix of African, Muslim, and South Asian influences, picturesque harbour, beaches, chaotic markets, and historic buildings, it is well worth extending your stay beyond the time between flights.
Dar es Salaam is certainly not at the top of the list of places to see for most visitors to Tanzania. It's often a necessary stop on their way to Zanzibar, the northern safari circuit, or home. That being said, Dar has its charm. Walks around the city center are a great way to get a feel for the culture and Kariakoo market can be an interesting place for the more adventurous. It can also be a good base for visiting some of the nearby sites such as Bagamoyo, Bongoyo and Mbudja Islands, as well as to learn to scuba dive or go deep sea fishing. For those looking for something more humanitarian, most international organizations are based in Dar and may be a good starting point if you wish to volunteer.
Most visitors to Dar arrive via Julius K. Nyerere International Airport, about 10 km west of the city center. Dar is flat and is bordered on the east by the Indian Ocean.
Dar es Salaam has a very humid climate and relatively stable temperatures, both in terms of night-to-day, and summer-to-winter. The driest and coolest season is June through early October. Short rains occur November through February (especially December), and long rains occur March through May, with monsoon season peaking in April. Temperatures are high November through May, highest in January.
Between December and February, in the dry season, temperatures can rise to the mid-30s (°C); due to the high humidity, discomfort can be very high. You should seek shelter from the sun during the midday heat and use copious amounts of sunblock.
Best times to visit are: June-Sept, after the rainy season, with milder temperatures and lower relative humidity.
North Americans and Europeans can obtain tourist visas upon landing in Dar es Salaam at a cost of US$50 (US$100 for US passport holders, free for Romanians) paid in US dollars. However, some may prefer to get a visa before arriving. A visa can be obtained from the Tanzanian High Commission/Embassy. Fees are US$100 for US passport holders and you will need a passport sized photograph. Normally ready same day.
If you want or need a business visa, you will have to go to the Immigration Headquarters within 5 working days and pay another US$100. You will also need no less than four passport sized photos. If the secretary at your company offers to take care of the procedure, do not forget to ask about the status. They might forget to tell you if something is missing.
At the airport, stand in the visa line, which is on the right hand side of the queue for passport control. It can get a bit hectic because several international flights arrive almost simultaneously, so ask others where the queue starts. Once you've received your visa, there's no need to stop at passport control; they issue the visa and stamp you in at the same time, so just walk through to the baggage claim area.
Tanzania's main airport is in Dar es Salaam, Julius Nyerere International Airport - (IATA:DAR) (formerly known as Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere International Airport and Dar es Salaam International Airport).
The airport is 10 km from the city center and 20 km from the Msasani Peninsula. Most large hotels offer a pick-up and drop-off service upon request. A taxi from the airport to the city center should cost between 10,000TSh and 20,000TSh, but many will ask for as much as US$40. Prices will be higher at night. If you can't get a decent price, walk to the main road and flag a taxi, it may be cheaper. Do not do this at night. Petrol is about US$1.50/liter and climbing, this in a country where people earn less than $1 a day. Fares may rise quickly. Daladalas are also available if you walk out to the main road. Look for those marked POSTA, which is the main Post Office in the city center. Hitchhiking is uncommon and most drivers will expect some form of payment from foreigners.
Warning: Getting back to the airport often entails a traffic nightmare, particularly around evening rush hour (which can last beyond 8PM). There is one particular intersection between downtown and the airport that is impossible to avoid and is often backed up for over an hour. Leave yourself a lot more time than you think reasonable for the trip; if you arrive too early for your flight's check-in, there is a pleasant restaurant above the terminal that has okay food and good beer.
Dar es Salaam is served Internationally via:
And Domestic Travel via:
Buying Tickets: One can even buy flight tickets from travel agents and airline offices. When purchasing tickets for domestic flights with a credit card, travel agents will add-on a fee ranging anywhere from 3-6% of the ticket price. To avoid the fee, pay for your tickets in cash. There are no additional fees when purchasing tickets for international destinations.
There are two trains running out of Dar Es Salaam from different stations. Tanzania Railway Limited is a train that travels through the center of Tanzania to Dodoma and further West, even up to Mwanza; however, the train tends to be unreliable, not terribly pleasant, and thievery is a problem. Tourists should try to travel in groups, and/or buy out (full occupancy) a first class cabin. Keep the doors and windows locked, especially when sleeping. The train travels at walking pace much of the time, so it is possible to buy fresh fruit, eggs, and other items out of the windows all along the way. Tazara runs a much nicer, though not much more on-time train to the south, which goes through part of the Selous Game Reserve, through Mbeya, and down to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia (about 2 to 3 hours from Lusaka). Tazara has a large train station just out on the edge of town. Visas for Zambia are available on the train. This is a nice but slow way to travel, as it takes about 2 days.
Bus travel is generally reliable if you pick the right company. It can be somewhat scary as Tanzanians seem to value arriving quickly more than arriving safely ('Mungu akipenda, tutafika' - If god wants it, we shall arrive).
If you're traveling to Arusha, Royal Coach is perhaps an even better option. The buses are very nice, have a/c (when working), a bathroom, and travel at 80kph for safety. The Royal Coach ticket office is located downtown near the Jambo Inn and Econolodge: buses leave from here early in the morning as well, although they then wait at the main bus stand for at least an hour.
Taxis are available outside the stations (TSh5,000 or more for a taxi ride from downtown, depending on your negotiation skills). Here you can find buses to the majority of other cities. Although there are many touts outside of Ubungo's ticket area, they are mostly harmless. If you are put off by them, ask the taxi to take you inside the station for a small extra fee. The ticket offices are located just outside the station, though you can buy the tickets from the bus if you have entered already. This might be a better idea regardless, as you cannot tell the state of the bus from outside, nor how full the bus is (buses will only leave when completely full).
Warning: Some of the cheaper lines run buses which are remarkably dilapidated, uncomfortable, will take a very long time to fill up, and will likely have to stop more often on the way, assuming they make it at all. Bus travel by night is not allowed, so most buses except for those to nearby cities will leave early in the morning.
Warning: Keep valuables and bags containing valuables with you at all times during bus travel. It is not uncommon for bags placed on an over-head shelf to be stolen from the bus during a stop, especially if the passenger has stepped off of the bus.
Sometimes the touts for the shadier bus companies claim to be working for or selling tickets for the more reputable bus companies. It is best to find the ticket office of a reputable bus company in the line of offices just outside of the bus stand. It is not necessary to book a ticket in advance, but it is a good idea to do so during busy travel times (Easter, Christmas). It is a good practice to verify the information on your ticket before leaving the counter.
The nearest dala-dala stand is also called "Ubungo", just down the road: Leaving the bus stand, head left on Morogoro Road, going toward the city; watch for the people crowding at the dala stand a short distance along. Dala-dalas to downtown will be marked "Posta"; people are typically happy to point them out to you if you ask.
Taxi prices from Ubungo are highest inside the stand, where there is a fairly strong cartel (similar to the airport). However there are always taxis outside the stand as well, with whom better prices can be negotiated. If you make a deal with a tout, and not directly with the driver (sitting in the car) the price will include a commission for the tout. Your negotiating position will be affected by things like the weather, time of day, traffic, how many other taxis there are, whether you can bargain in kiswahili, whether you have lots of bags, etc. Starting to walk to the daladala stand can show you're serious about negotiating - actually going there and taking a dala will really save you money.
See the By car in the Get In in the Tanzania article.
Walking around central Dar is a nice way to see the city and probably the best way to get around. In general people will leave you alone except for the occasional greeting. There aren't many sidewalks in Dar so exercise caution when walking along busy roads.
Cycling around Dar is possible but can be difficult and scary. You should be comfortable with cycling in high-congestion areas where traffic is slowed. Tanzanians have little patience when driving and in their mind any vehicle smaller than theirs is responsible for getting out the way. Cycling on the Msasani Peninsula is less hectic than in urban areas. Wear a helmet and hone your defensive cycling skills when cycling around Dar.
UWABA, the Dar cyclists' association, is uniting cyclists to lobby for better (or any) bike lanes, traffic safety, and to improve the image of cycling. At the moment cycling is associated with poor people who can't afford motorised transport. Middle-class Tanzanians complain that their reputation will suffer if they are seen on a bike.
Some local tour groups offer guide bicycling tours around the city. This is a good way to get further afield and interact with the locals. One company that offers bike tours in Dar is Afriroots - they have both 'Dar Reality Tours' and Sunday tours that include a delicious lunch. Sign up for the Sunday tours on the previous Thursday. Their email is: [email protected]
For a countryside cycle trip, the Pugu Hills Nature Centre 12 km. from the international airport (0754 565 498) is a good opportunity, but you need to come with your own bike and make a booking if you plan to visit the place ().
Car hires can be organized through most hotels. Tanzanians drive on the left. Like many developing countries, driving in Dar can be stressful, difficult and dangerous. In addition to potholes, drivers must contend with aggressive taxis and dalla-dallas (see below), poor driving skills by western standards, large potholes, uncovered manholes, few if any street lights at night, and thieves who remove any exterior part of your vehicle while you’re stopped at traffic lights. During the rainy season you must also navigate through water covered roads that may hide deep potholes and around Tanzanians who dart out into traffic in an effort to get out of the rain, often with little children in tow. In conclusion, driving in Dar should be left to those with driving experience in developing countries.
Choice of vehicle
Driving in the city
Carjackings are uncommon but opening doors or jumping through open windows to steal valuables is not. Keep your windows closed and doors locked. Reports have arisen of thieves aiming for golden and silver earrings at traffic lights, simply ripping them out. When stopped at traffic lights or parked in unattended locations, thieves have been known to steal mirrors, paneling, spare tires and anything that is not either engraved with the license plate number or bolted to the vehicle's body. Choose your parking spots carefully and don't leave valuables in plain sight. You can either offer the parking attendant a small tip to watch your vehicle, 500 to 1000 Tzs, or find a secured parking lot, especially if your leaving the vehicle overnight. Hotels often provide such parking areas.
Dangers and annoyances
NOTE: A senior government official has suggested that the Government purchase helicopters to ferry officials and dignitaries to and from the airport and around town in a bid to reduce traffic congestion. Needless to say that this request was not well received by representatives from the various donor countries and international aid agencies.
There are no formal taxi companies in Dar-es-salaam nor are there any contact centers reachable 24 hours a day (or at any time). Taxi drivers are not associated to any public transport company (they run their own business) but they are regulated by the government. Look for white license plates and a taxi number painted on the side. Taxis also have official receipts. The cars have a recognizable paint job and always stay parked at specific points across the city (in great numbers), some few of them even during the night, but can only be reached via personal mobile phones. Taxi fares are not fixed.
During the night, taxis are still available, but they remain at their usual corners around the city and can only be reached via their personal mobile phones. Since most streets outside city center (and even within) lack any type of light source it is recommended NOT to walk down dark streets past alleyways to those corners where the taxis stay during the night. This means service is unreliable service at times as the taxi driver is usually contacted by the tourist via cell phone. You can risk getting stuck at potentially unsafe locations with no light and alone in a strange city unless you arrange to obtain the cell phone number of a reliable driver in advance to drive you by arrangement.
A price must be negotiated before you begin traveling, or the price will be considerably higher once you reach your destination. It is not customary to tip your driver. While there are many friendly and honest drivers, some will try their luck and quote an outrageous price to anyone who looks wealthy. Even if you can't see another taxi around, don't agree to it. Another taxi is sure to be just around the corner. It is quite practical to begin walking in the direction you want to go. You'll either find one on the side of the road or one will drive past, but it can be an iffy situation. Cars owned by drivers are often very well maintained; taking a smooth air-conditioned trip around Dar is entirely possible if you know the right driver!
If you plan on hiring a taxi for a long journey, inspect the quality of the tires, some are extremely worn.
Don't hesitate to tell the driver to slow down. "Pole Pole" in Swahili.
To/from the airport to/from the city center - the average price is 15000 Tzs. This can sometimes be negotiated down, especially if you pay in USD.
To/from city center to/from Msasani Peninsula - should run about 7,000 Tzs, more commonly 10,000.
For a small premium you can avoid very much trouble; you can reserve a taxi for the whole day or evening. This can be convenient as well as safer if you are visiting a number of places and doing some shopping. You should be able to get that for 30000 Tzs.
Small, three-wheeled Indian vehicles, these are popular as they cost approximately half the equivalent taxi fare and are able to travel alongside the roads when blocked by the inevitable traffic jams. They have a reputation for being rather dangerous, and some drivers appear to be too young for a driving license. Up to three people can fit in the seat behind the driver.
The most common form of public transportation in Dar is the mini-van which goes by the name "daladala". These vans ply a specific route with the start and ending point clearly marked on the front of the vehicle. At the main stations (Ubungo, Posta, Mwenge) daladalas from each route stop to collect passengers at the same stop at the station. It's fine to ask someone where to find the daladala you're looking for, the newspaper/phonecard sellers are often quite helpful.
You can jump on and off anywhere along the route by simply yelling out, "Shusha!" (pronounced SHOO-sha).
Their popularity is due to their ready availability and low cost, (about TSh300/= per ride). Cost varies by route, longer rides such as Posta-->Mombasa are Tsh450/=. The fare is indicated on the outside of the daladala, normally painted onto the door). However, tourists should be aware that drivers will pile in as many people as possible, there is no a/c, some drive like maniacs, and the overall condition of the vehicles is poor, with many frequently breaking down along the way. That being said, travelers should not hesitate to use them for getting around. Watch out for pickpockets as you get into and leave crowded vehicles. Except for early in the day, daladalas often have change (more than most restaurants/dukas (stores)), so it's actually often a pretty good place to break a Tsh 10,000/= bill.
It helps if you know a little Kiswahili and are at least a little familiar with the city when using daladalas. If you’re trying to get to the city center, hop onto any daladala marked 'posta'. They all go to the central post office on Maktaba/Azikiwe St. Since they tend to be very crowded, you should guard your belongings. This is especially true when you are at large bus stations such as Mwenge.
Boarding daladalas in city centre stations (Posta, Kariakoo) is a competitive undertaking during the evening rush. It's easier to avoid leaving the city center during the peak of the rush hour, 4:30 to 6:30PM. Often, if there are many people waiting for a certain daladala (like the popular Ubungo to Posta) and there is a scramble to get on, if you just wait for the next one you'll have no problem getting on, and might even get a seat!
Pickpockets are at work at outlying daladala terminals after the sun sets. Have awareness of your pockets, especially when boarding a bus. Turn that awareness meter up if you are boarding from Mwenge or Ubungo.
The best part of using the daladala system is that locals will often strike up friendly conversations and are always willing to help you with your Kiswahili. Travel by daladala can be quite enjoyable so long as you are on the correct route.
A nice daladala day trip is from town to [Bagamoyo], about a 90-minute trek north of the city. It's easiest to catch the yellow-striped bus from Mwenge. The cost is TSH 1,500 (May 2009). From the stand in Bagamoyo you can take a bajaji (think 3-wheeled golf cart) to historic sites including 13th century ruins, a 19th century German garrison, and a very colorful seafood market on the beach. Getting back to Dar es Salaam, you'll be pushing your luck if you delay much past 5PM.
Bahari Beach hotel, is about 20km to the north of Dar es Salaam along New Bagamoyo Road. The hotel charges a small fee for non-guests.
Kigamboni also known as "South Beach", is situated across the channel from the Zanzibar ferry. You can get to the other side by ferry, not the same as for Zanzibar. The ferry station is north of the Zanzibar ferry past the Kilimanjaro Kempinski Hotel near the main fish market. You walk onto the ferry which costs 100Tsh. The crossing takes about 5 minutes. Once across, you can hire a taxi to take you to the beaches, most of which are accessed through the various hotels along the coast. Public beaches have all been sold to developers. Hotels, such as the Sunrise, will charge a 5,000Tsh entry fee. 3,000TSh of which is returned to you in the form of food vouchers. Most hotels are about 5km from the ferry and you should be able to get there for 10,000 to 15,000Tsh depending on your negotiating skills. There are also daladalas which ply the road to the beaches.
For a great day trip, head out to Bongoyo Island. Bongoyo is a small, uninhabited island just off the coast. The boat to Bongoyo leaves from Mashua Waterfront Bar & Grill at Slipway, the upscale set of shops and markets on the Msasani Peninsula, just north of Dar es Salaam. A taxi from the city center should run you 8,000 Tsh. The first boat leaves at 9:30AM, with others at 11:30AM, 1:30PM and 3:30PM, with a minimum of four people. The ferry cost 25,000Tsh which includes a round trip plus the US$10 for the marine park fee. The return ferries are at 10:30AM, 12:30PM, 2:30PM and the last one leaves around 4:30PM. There is a small restaurant on the island which serves a variety of foods and drinks (grilled prawns, fish and chips, egg and chips, beer etc.). Another option is to buy food at the Shrijee's supermarket at Slipway. You can relax without having to worry about anyone stealing your things on Bongoyo. Take a hike around the island, snorkel in the clear waters to the southwest of the island (snorkeling gear may be rented on the island for 6,000Tsh per set per day) or just relax under a banda on the beach. Bandas are 5,000Tsh and a chair costs 1,500Tsh for the day. On the weekend, be sure to get on the first ferry if you want a banda, it gets very busy on Saturday and Sunday. When you come back, you can get ice cream or a meal at several of the Slipway restaurants and watch the sun set. You can also check out the Tinga Tinga paintings and other crafts at the market. Walk to the south (toward the Doubletree Hotel) from the main part of Slipways, past the boatyard, to find many cheaper market stalls.
Mbudya Island is a smaller island just north of Bongoyo. To visit, take a taxi or bajaji to the White Sands Hotel, located near Kunduchi. Two-way tickets can be purchased for 10,000 Tsh per person, with a minimum of 4 people per boat, and there is an additional 10,000 Tsh park fee when you get to the island. The popular side of the island has beaches, bandas, a small bar, and a food pavilion (though the menu is very limited). Beers go for about 3,000 Tsh. There is also a somewhat nicer, though more expensive, bar on the northern end of the beach. The rest of the island is mostly rough cliff face, which can make for some interesting hiking, though this is not advised if you don't have good shoes and dependable balance (the rocks are very sharp and scrambling is sometimes required). The last boats back to White Sands leave between 4:30 and 5:00pm, though you can stay a bit longer if you are willing to take a smaller, overcrowded boat back to the Sea Breeze hotel, which is south of White Sands.
For a great excursion in the city to see the "real Dar," you should do an "Investour." Investours  runs microfinance poverty tours, and you get to meet and talk to local entrepreneurs, see the Mwenge woodcarvers market in a behind-the-scences experience, and even have a local Tanzanian lunch with some of the craftsmen. Your fee is then used as an interest-free microfinance loan given to the entrepreneur of your choice--out of the ones you met during the day. Most people come to Dar without experiencing directly these aspects of the city: abject poverty and the desire of most individuals from all over Tanzania to strike it big here. It is an important cultural part of Dar es Salaam, and an Investour tour should definitely be something to consider. For people who enjoy reality TV shows, this type of excursion is especially popular. Maybe the tour-givers are fans, too? You get to award the popularity contest winner, and send away the others!
At Slipways, the Waterfront Bar and Grill is decent and is open long hours, but the best dining experience is on The Terrace, which generally opens around 7PM on weeknights and 6PM on weekends. The coffee shop next to The Terrace served pretty good food and excellent coffee.
There are quite a number of night clubs in Dar es Salaam. Probably the most popular in City Centre is Bilicanas, which is lively. It is popular with locals and ex-pats alike. There is some prostitution, but it's not a hot spot for it. Music is varied, depending on the night, from local to Congolese to dance to hip-hop. (The only time I've ever heard hip-hop played right before Aqua's "Barbie Girl"; the place goes nuts when they play cheesy songs). California Dreamers is another nearby club, but it is too popular with prostitutes to recommend. There are numerous other smaller clubs that can be fun, but harder to get to. On the Peninsula, Sweeteazy has great live bands, sometimes with their own dancers every Thursday and Saturday evenings. There is always a mixed Tanzanian/expat crowd dancing. Cover charge is Tsh 10,000 but if you have supper there it's free!
Hiking is possible in the Pugu Hills, some 12 KM west of the airport. Selected villagers can assist as guide for a hike around the Pugu Hills or to the major cattle market of Dar es Salaam. Arrangements are through the Pugu Hills Nature Centre (). For directions to Pugu Hills see web site.
If you enjoy a chillout evening, the Mediterraneo Lounge has a large collection of chill-out music. At the Mediterraneo Hotel & Restaurant Lounge you can enjoy the fantastic view of the Indian Ocean while sipping your favorite drink, and listening to the best lounge & chill-out music in Dar Es Salaam. More in town and therefore somewhat less romantic but still beautiful, on the peninsula, check out very attractive Coral Beach Restaurant ($$$), right on the ocean, where you can watch the sun set.
Massage Try High Care Massage at the Slipway for a very professionally organized place. There are signs for lots of other massage and spa centres around town. Two places favored by ladies in landcruisers are Lemon on Haile Selassie Road (next to George & Dragon pub) or The Spot on Chole Road (opposite the taxi stand).
Movies There are modern cinema halls like Cineplex in Nyerere road at the Quality Centre Mall (which is the largest Cinema in Dar-es-Salaam), Century Cinemax at Mlimani City (tel. 0715 246362)and New World Cinema on Bagomoyo/Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road (tel. 022 277 1409) The latter hosts the annual European and Asian film festivals. You can buy DVDs on every corner but beware, many are defective Chinese counterfeits, poorly produced, and/or lack English translation.
Sports' The Yacht Club on the Peninsula is a gorgeous place but requires membership fees. You can enter as someone's guest and swim (in safety) or boat. It, and other places around town, offer scuba-diving lessons. Gymkhana, on Gymkhana Road in town, has tennis courts and a nice golf course. Coco Beach is a public beach on the Peninsula which is very busy on weekends. Go any afternoon to see people relaxing, and eat local food. Don't walk on the beach at night (sometimes in daylight) as muggings are too frequent. A few people surf here when waves swell a bit around the full moon. You can sometimes surf or kite surf at the beaches south of Dar, e.g. at Kasa Beach Hideaway (fantastic wide beach and surfable waves in June). There's yoga three times a week ('Mondays Golden Tulip Hotel, Thursday and Saturday at Dar Fitness Centre) and capoeira at 6PM at the Little Theatre (beginners on Mondays, intermediate Wednesdays), and tae kwon do also at the Little Theatre, Wednesdays at 6. Kickboxing is also available.
Culture Read weekly 'What's Happening in Dar' and 'Advertising Dar' to get all the news of what's going on, including weekend get-away specials. There are always events like dance and music performances, artist openings at painting and photography galleries, movie festivals etc. Alliance Francaise,Goethe institute, Iranian and Russian cultural centres offer special events along with some occasionally sponsored by Embassies.
For kangas (or khangas), colorful, sarong-like pieces of cloth with Swahili sayings along the bottom, try Kariakoo market or the cloth market on the streets around it. The market has moved a bit recently, but check around south end of Jamhuri St., where there are many textile shops. Here you can also buy kitenge, twice the length of kangas and usually cut in half to form a complete outfit, for around Tzs 4000 each. Try asking in here if you want something like a dress made to measure. Kariakoo is also a good place for fresh food. Watch out for pickpockets.
The wholesale textile markets are on Uhuru St. in the Mnazi Mmoja district near Kariakoo, although the number of people and the attention can be overwhelming for some visitors. It helps to speak Swahili, and if you can, go during the week rather than on Saturdays. Its a much more enjoyable experience on a weekday, since there are less people around you can chat with the sellers and there is less high-pressure haggling. The Uhuru Street sellers are wholesalers, so unless you feel you're being quoted a very inflated price, it is difficult to bargain.
Carvings and other touristy souvenirs can be found all over Dar. Remember that haggling is expected.
There is a fantastic craft market in Mwenge, the Mwenge Carvers' Market. Here you can watch many of the artists make the crafts that are sold throughout the country (although some crafts sold in Tanzania are imported from Kenya). Prices range from expensive to extremely cheap. There are many stalls selling similar things, and if you are savvy, you might be able to pit the vendors against each other. The perk of the Mwenge market is the sheer volume of crafts to choose from. If you like the style of something at a specific store (they tend to carry items made by one or two artists), and you have some time, you can meet the artist and have them custom make something for you. The market closes at dusk. Shopping around this time gets you the best deals.
There is a smaller market at Slipway, which is a good place to get Tinga Tinga paintings and large batiks as well.
Local paintings are often executed in a style unique to Tanzania, "tinga-tinga", named after the artist who founded the style, Edward Said Tinga Tinga. Some good places to find them are at the Slipway market, and in the alley off of Haile Selassie Road on the Peninsula. The alley is to the left of Shrijee's Supermarket - look for the art sellers on Haile Selassie Road, and the alley is on the opposite side of the road. There are also tailors, sandal-makers, and charity/craft/wholefood shops on this alley (not to mention the booze shop). The Tinga Tinga artists' collective itself is at the end of the alley, through a doorway, so don't get too distracted by the smaller art shops outside.
In November 2006, the brand new Mlimani City shopping complex opened. A Shoprite supermarket and a Game department store, both South African chains, are open for business seven days a week. Although it is a fair distance from the city center, it can be reached by taking a dalla dalla or taxi to the Mwenge bus terminal, and walking approximately ten minutes further past the craft market (see below).
If you run out of things to read, there are some surprisingly well stocked branches of the English language bookshop called A Novel Idea. See the Books section a little further down for a list of stores.
There is a good selection of electronics and appliance vendors on Samora Avenue.
There are a number of book stores near the Askari monument at Samora Ave & the Posta Road, selling mostly academic texts / school books.
If you're looking for an authentic shopping experience, a visit to Kariakoo market, especially on Saturday morning, could be just the thing. Kariakoo is the cheapest market in Tanzania. If you want to buy cheap souvenirs, this is the place for you. If you're a Muzungu (i.e. white person) shop owners will try to charge you much more that is worth. But that will be cheaper than what you get in the city or everywhere else in Tanzania. General rules: African necklaces should not be bought for more than 2000 shilings (the correct price is TS1000 but you won't get that price easily), small drums should be bought for as much as TS4-5000 and soft stone products (hearts, plates, small animals, jewelry boxes etc) should not be purchased for more than 10,000 shillings. In Kariakoo you can also find cool yet useful presents, like kerosene lamps or pans (as in pan and brush) made from used metal - look for ones with commercial logos printed all over. My favourite is a funnel made from a hair spray container. There are also nice baskets, stools, bowls etc.WARNING: This is not for everyone. The market is VERY crowded and for some the smells and noises can be overwhelming. If you're keen but hesitating, it might be best to find a Tanzanian friend or person familiar with the market to help you navigate around. DO NOT bring any valuables and only bring a small amount of money that you wish to spend, as pickpockets work the area and in the commotion your watch, cell phone, mp3, sunglasses and wallet can be expertly removed, or your nice leather handbag slashed with a razor. Even seasoned Kariakoo shoppers occasionally fall prey to these sophisticated teams of thieves.
Haggling: Haggling is expected when purchasing almost anything in Dar. Although it is true that most merchants quote much higher prices to tourists than locals, sometimes three times the price, negotiations should still be undertaken with respect and good humour. Don't expect to pay the same as a local and don't be insulted when you aren't. The reality is that you probably have more money in your pocket than many Tanzanians see in a year. This also applies to backpackers. Remember the extra dollar or two you paid for that carving will most likely be used to buy food for the family. None of these merchants are rich. If you think it's too expensive leave and look elsewhere, but don’t call them thieves.
Mitumba is the Swahili word for second-hand stuff, the hand-me-downs of the developed world, and Ilala Market has some of the best and cheapest mitumba you can find in Tanzania. Sweaters, jeans, shoes, bags, etc. With an extra emphasis on that etc. Also you can find handcrafted jewelry (bracelets, anklets, earrings, and such) at good prices, making it a good place to buy simple gifts en masse. There's plenty of street food. Its stalls and kiosks are in tight, narrow quarters and it feels a bit claustrophobic, so it's not ideal for all travelers.
When it comes to expensive souvenirs, Tanzania has cornered the market with a gemstone that can only be found (mined) in Tanzania, hence the name tanzanite. Shops selling this exquisite blue stone are located in all major cities and towns, especially those popular with tourists like Zanzibar, Arusha and Dar. Your biggest problem will be knowing that what you're getting is the real thing and worth the money you're shelling out for it.
The rule of thumb is the darker the gem the more expensive it is, to a point. Too light or too dark colored tanzanite is genuine just not as sought after as the mid range stones. But like all things there is much more to a stone's value than just its color so do your homework if you plan on spending a lot on one of them.
Grading is on an alphabetical scale with AAA being the best and C being the least valued or consumer grade. Expect to pay as much as US $450 per carat for AAA. The system is simple and universally accepted among miners and the gemstone dealers they sell to. AAA is the term reserved for the very finest pieces that they very rarely find. Then comes AA, A, B, C. These represent the various levels of desaturation. Look for hue, tone, and saturation. The numeric optimum range for tanzanite is 4(lighter)— 6(darker) on a 1-10 scale, where the stone is neither too light or too dark. AAA top grade stones lie in the 6 range.
If, like most visitors, you're new to this gem, buying from a reputable shop, such as Lothys at the Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski or Tanzanite Dream might be more expensive but you're assured of what you're getting. Nonetheless, there are several other good shops around Dar where you can get nice pieces or simply buy the gems and have them set back home. Like all things, negotiating is key. If you are a serious tanzanite buyer looking for quality and selection then you should definitely check out The Tanzanite Dream  located just outside the city centre on the Mataka road behind the fire station. Other reputable shops to buy best tanzanite are Gem Point, Royal Jewellers, Queens Jewellers located at Indiragandhi street, in the center of town.
You can get all kinds of delicious meals in Dar. With a large native South Asian population, the Indian food is amazing. Although scattered all over the city, some of the best places are found in and around Zanaki Street.
$ = Cheap (1,000 - 5,000Tsh for a meal for one) $$ = Average (5,000 - 10,000Tsh) $$$ = Moderate (10,000 - 20,000) $$$$ = Expensive (20,000+)
Traditional Tanzanian food can be had on almost any street. From grilled meats (mishikaki) to BBQ corn on the cob, and chips and eggs (chips mayai). If you're looking for something a little more sanitary, there are a number of small hotels and restaurants that serve a buffet style meal at lunch time which offers a variety of Tanzanian stews, deep fried fish and chicken, and vegetables. Some good choices:
Serves Indian food, Chinese food, pizza, burgers & lot more. So eat, relax & have fun. 0765726697
For something even more upscale, try the Sunday Brunch at the Kilimanjaro Hotel. The restaurant on the ground floor offers a wide variety of mainstream Western dishes but also includes several local favorites adapted, meaning less oil/fat and less use of spices. It's not cheap, about 30,000 Tzs per person, but is for those interested in trying Tanzanian cuisine without risking gastrointestinal complications sometimes experienced by the uninitiated. Please note: the buffet contains all you can eat smoked salmon of the highest quality, among other delicacies! Note the listing of all other offerings below:
Peninsula and around
Chinese, Japanese & South-East Asian
Peninsula and surrounding
Zuane, actually, is the best Italian restaurant in Dar es Salaam. They serve pizzas as good as you can have in Italy, thanks to Chef Cristian's ability, wood oven, choice of first quality food and last but not least of the best fresh mozzarella in Dar made in Tanzania! Pasta, meat dishes and cakes are also delicious.
Café and Bistros
Green Masai Restaurant & Cafe ($$) in Vikawe Street, Regent Estate, Mikocheni. This is a new restaurant, bar and coffee shop, owned by an Italian family. Here you can taste a dish of pasta or grilled meat and fish in a relaxing green garden or in the "makuti" lounge. You can visit just for a drink or a coffee. Internal parking is available, and if needed the staff will be pleased to call a taxi or a bajaj to pick you up after. Access from Shoppers Mikocheni: take Ursino Street, turn right at the 1st street, then left in Chato Street; go straight until you see a container bar, and turn right into the street on the opposite side; go straight, turn left at the 1st street and go on until you see the place on your left. Access from AAR Hospital on Chato Street: go straight and turn at left at the 1st street, then right at the 1st street; go on until you see the place on your right. Phone +255715399523 (English) or +255653517299 (Kiswahili). Website www.greenmasai.com
SeaCliff Village and Slipway (peninsula), Harbor View Suites Mall (Samora Ave), and the Steer's Complex (Ohio Street) has many fast-food eateries in one place, as well as shopping. Limited menus of Indian food, pizza, burgers, sandwich shops, ice cream and confectioners.
For upscale meals, visit the Dar es Salaam Serena (formerly Mövenpick, even more formerly: the Royal Palm Hotel), The Holiday Inn, Kilimanjaro Hyatt Regency Hotel in the City Center.
All of these hotels offer excellent fixed-price breakfast buffets, which often include sparkling wine, and can be a good value.
The best place to eat in terms of best price and atmosphere, is on the street. Places to try include the corner of Morogoro road and Jamhuri street, or the large open space in front of the Dar Express bus company ticket office. Chipsi mayai(chips in an omelet) should be about 1000 or 1200 shillings.
Some great places to eat fresh, inexpensive, tasty local food outdoors, but under shade, where you will be served from vats are:
All serve vegetarian (beans, rice, cooked bananas, greens, other) for around Tsh 2000 or with meat (beef, chicken, lamb, fish) around Tsh 4000. The clientele is mainly young Tanzanians with office jobs, many of whom speak English. All three of these restaurants are a few minutes walk from Mirambo where many Embassies are.
You should only drink bottled water. A 1.5 litre bottle will cost you 1,000 shillings in a store or on the street, depending on the brand (and 2000 or more at restaurants), but you can also drink tap water if you've purified it with iodine tablets or boiled it (at least 3-5 minutes at a rolling boil). "Seepage" from the sewer pipes into the water pipes is quite common.
Kilimanjaro, Serengeti and Safari (the latter being a stronger beer, 5.5% alcohol) are local beers and popular with Tanzanians and foreigners. These are typically 1100-1400 shillings apiece for 500ml bottles in local spots, but can cost 3000 or more at some bars and restaurants.
Imported beer available in Dar includes Tusker, Ndovu, Stella Artois, Castle Lager and Heineken. The African imports (Tusker, Ndovu) are not that much more expensive than local beer, but European beer can be three to four times the price of domestics.
Konyagi is a popular local gin, and its variant Konyagi Ice is comparable to hard lemonade and other sweet drinks.
Krest, bottled locally by Coca Cola, offers club soda, tonic water and bitter lemon drinks. Stoney Tangawizi (ginger ale but stronger in taste) is one of the more popular soda drinks. Sodas come in glass bottles and you'll usually be asked to return the bottle or pay extra to take it, but they don't usually like that.
All of the large hotels have full bars with air conditioning. Many offer 2-for-1 happy hour specials in the late afternoon/early evening.
Peninsula & Around
The cost of accommodation can vary from 10000 Tzs a night for very basic rooms to hundreds of dollars for the Holiday Inn Hotel. The YMCA (near Posta daladala stand) is the main place to stay and meet fellow backpackers. It fills up quickly.
Dar has many inexpensive guest houses outside of the city centre, particularly in the area south of the university. If you feel like experiencing the real Dar as most of its residents do, ask for help finding a cheap "gesti" and be prepared to go off the beaten track.
If you're coming or going by bus there's a number of basic gestis in the Sinza area just around the corner from Ubungo bus terminal. A taxi driver should be able to help you find one in your chosen price range.
There are plenty of expensive hotels in and around Dar but here are some modern hotels which are reasonably priced:
Msasani Peninsula (and beyond):
Dar also has its fair share of hotels which cater largely to foreigners traveling here for work. The rates for these hotels are typically near (or start slightly above) the maximum per diem accommodation rates for NGOs such as the United Nations or USAID. As with most things in Tanzania, there is often room for negotiation.
Pippa: (+255) 754 580 225, Fax: +(255) 22 2600 864. Gourmet restaurant. Boutique hotel, relaxed elegance. Satellite TV, wireless and Internet connection, safe location, fully stocked mini-bar, tea and coffee, air conditioned, poolside rooms.
If you want to escape the city, there are a few upscale hotels just outside of Dar.
White Sands Hotel Just off the road to Bagamoyo, New Bagamoyo Road, about a 45 minute drive from the city center, without all of the traffic of course. Some people may like this option as there are several scuba diving schools situated in and around the hotel.
There are also some good hotels on the South Coast via the Kigamboni ferry. The beaches here are better than north of the city and have long expanses of white sand next to turquoise waters.
A little bit further away, you can find a beautiful place called The Lighthouse Beach Resort. With a relaxing "home away from home" atmosphere you can enjoy this 2.5 km beach. The place is built to fit in to the environment, and you can enjoy the beautiful view from the rooftop terrace. Phone:+255 784 947 444 or e-mail: [email protected] www.lighthousebeachresort.net
Tanzania is one of the least policed countries in the world. Rapes and murders often go unreported and little data exists to suggest how common these crimes are. Domestic violence and sexual harassment, which often goes well beyond verbal cat-calling, are extremely common. Foreign female students have documented multiple accounts of sexual assualt and/or rape. These cases often go unreported/under-reported by universities with study abroad programs in Tanzania, and of course by the Tanzanian authorities themselves. Walking alone at night outside the most exclusive areas (think Oyster Bay, the Slipway, Sea Cliff, etc.) is extremely inadvisable for foreigners. Men stand a high chance of being mugged, women of being mugged and/or sexually assaulted. Dar is often very poorly lit. The city experiences a great many power outages. This makes lone women particularly vulnerable.
Most travelers who are in Dar on a short stay will, fortunately, not face these challenges. Similarly, most expatriates who live in Dar are sequestered well enough (with cars, security guards, in upscale neighborhoods, etc.) not to have to worry about this sort of thing.
By far the most common crimes, and the biggest risk for most travelers, will be muggings and petty thefts. Muggings occur very frequently, including sometimes on the street in broad daylight. Sometimes, but not always, the victim gets roughed up. Foreign students at the University of Dar es Salaam have been mugged at machete point. Never carry your wallet anywhere easily accessible (a back pocket, an outside flap of a backpack or purse, etc.).
Avoid in particular:
- walking on the beach (like Cocoa Beach) while carrying valuables, as many of these places are invisible from the road. Dar can be a friendly place, and you can certainly have an enjoyable visit there, but avoid carrying valuables as you may draw problems. You can walk in the city in the evening but as it gets darker and you see fewer people on the street, take the hint and exercise caution. It might be better to take a taxi. If you are noticeably foreign, remember that many people will assume you have valuables and may be an easy target.
- Parking in dark sectors of the beach is a bad idea as thieves and junkies crouch in the dark waiting for the unaware foreigner to park, turn-off the engine and leave the car (to have a nice view of the Dar night from the beach) which be stolen or have valuables stolen by a waiting unseen groups - in the case of a male foreigner- or assault and steal in the case of a female foreigner. For a female foreigner, this is an absolute Not To Do.
Parking in a place without a guard creates the serious risk of having lights or other car parts extracted. It is not uncommon for people to try to steal things through open windows, while you are waiting for lights to change, or to open unlocked doors and either get in or swipe something! Some people have had passersby attempt to snatch purses off their laps while sitting in the back of a taxi at an intersection.
There is a major police station at Selendar Bridge on Ocean Road and other police posts in various other places. If you don't follow the driving rules (or sometimes even if you do) you will spend time and money, either discussing with them their price or more formally in the police station. Police here ask for lifts regularly to get places but you are not obliged to take them if you feel uncomfortable. There is a great deal of corruption in Tanzania. Skin color, bribes, and connections to known elites in town still, unfortunately, hold a lot of sway.
A number of visitors have reported being pickpocketed in crowds at the Posta daladala stand recently (2009). If you're walking past this it's best to cross the road to avoid the crowd. If you're getting a daladala be aware of your possessions, be particularly aware of people stopping suddenly in front of you - this is sometimes done to block you in while someone behind you goes through your bags. Other well known pickpocket sites are the ferry to Kigamboni (nb. not the Zanzibar ferry), the Mnazi Mmoja dala stand, the trinket stalls on Samora Av and Karriakoo Market. There's no reason to avoid these areas just be aware of your possessions when you are there, particularly bags. Using razor blades to cut into bags to remove items is quite common - and really annoying.
If you are robbed, you have a few options. None of them are good. You can yell, "mwizi!" This means 'thief' in Swahili. If you do this in a crowded place, you will very likely incite a mob to form. The mob might corner the thief and detain him until the police arrive. They might also beat up the thief very badly, possibly to the point of death. Theft carries huge risks in a culture where people possess very few material goods. The social punishments for stealing can be brutal beatings or, in some cases, death. Weigh the worth of your $40 cell phone or purse against the potential results of fomenting a stir. If you are in a crowded place (like the downtown Posta daladala stand, for example), you will, at the very least, create a gigantic scene, probably cause someone to be beaten, and have to spend a day dealing with the Dar es Salaam police department in sweltering, inefficient conditions. Much more practical just to exercise extreme care with how you carry your belongings, and to avoid carrying valuables (i.e. anything you can't afford to lose) altogether.
Be careful when taking taxis at night, particularly if you are alone, where possible use a driver you know or ask someone to call a taxi for you. If staying in Dar for an extended period of time, try to get the phone numbers of the first fair, seemingly trustworthy cabbies you encounter. Keep using them. If you are living in Dar without a car, this will greatly increase your safety. Taking buses at night and walking in poorly lit areas alone or in small groups (particularly of women, noticeable foreigners, or other people who might look like 'easy targets') is a great way to increase the risk of something bad happening (mugging, rape, etc.). Split taxis when possible. Some travelers have narrowly escaped potentially violent muggings and/or rape and others were not so fortunate.
Remember that, generally speaking, the more you stand out, the higher your risk factor will be. It is possible to have a wonderful time in Dar, if you make yourself aware of these risks and adapt accordingly. Guide books neglect a great deal of this common sense information when it comes to Tanzania.
Embassies and High Commissions
There are quite a number of Internet Cafes in Dar located in different places, but CybeBase Internet Cafe is the most popular especially for visitors CybeBase Internet Cafe is located along Shekilango Road in Sinza +255-787-000157 OR +255-719-924389, [email protected]