Exploring the City of Dar es Salaam
February 9, 2019
by Immaculate Ngunu
Dar es Salaam is the coastal city in Tanzania. It’s an oasis of joy and offers a good atmosphere for relaxation out of the busy work schedules. When growing up, I always thought that Dar es Salaam was the capital city of Tanzania due to its popularity than the real capital city Dodoma.
The most significant things I liked about the city when I visited are the culture, food, beaches and most of all the hospitable people. During my visit there, my friends and I would always find someone willing to lend a hand of help whenever we needed it especially during the numerous times that we were lost while traveling around. The people in this region are also very patriotic such that I would find them in restaurants at night watching and cheering their local football teams playing. During my one week stay, I was able to do several exciting things which I have listed below. I was not able to visit many places like I had planned because I visited several places more than once.
Places to visit in Dar es Salaam
The best day of my stay in this city was when I visited this town. There a lot of activities to undertake in this town from the historical sites to the vast cultural attractions great for discovery and exploration. Due to its great cultural heritage, this place has hundreds of thousands of people visiting the area annually.
The Old Catholic Church
Even though this church is termed as old it’s very stunning inside considering it was built in the 19th It is believed to be the oldest church in East Africa and was established by the Holy Ghost Fathers. Immediately I entered this church, I whispered to my friend of how beautiful it would feel having or attending a wedding in this church. The church is located in a strategic place where one can come for prayers and recollection.
The Kaole ruins are situated in Kaole town in Bagamoyo, which is one of the first settlement areas for Arabs in the 13th century. It’s difficult to understand the history of this place without a tour guide and am glad we got one when we visited. The first site we visited was a 13st-century mosque which our guide told us was the oldest in East Africa. Near the mosque was a well which was believed to have holy water and we filled our bottles with the water to take home. There were some several graves. One of the remarkable ones was the love grave in which is for a couple that died after drowning in the sea. Another one is Shariffa’s grave which is highly respected, and some people come to pray here. It is a resting place of a girl who was a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. The graves here are made of coral stones. There is some eerie silence in this place that made me view it as an ideal place for prayers and meditation.
I spent most of my afternoons here when I was in Dar es Salaam. This beach is attractive with calm waters. I mostly enjoyed basking in the sun while enjoying the cool breeze from the beach. My friends and I would cover ourselves with sand while seated near the beach and, then we would take pictures and such games would usually bring back my fun-filled childhood memories of when I used to play with sand. Since I am not so great in swimming when there are strong ocean waves, and tides I would lay on the ground near the shores, and I would ask someone to take pictures of me when a wave comes such that I would be captured while covered by water. My friends and I enjoyed running in the sand along the beach though we were restricted to go past some areas. There are some hotels around where you bulge in and order something to eat when are hungry. Besides being a good place for swimming, it is also a good place for relaxation and even playing games with friends.
Coco beach is located at Oyster bay region of Dar es Salaam. This place is one of the popular beaches in this city hence it is mostly crowded as people like holding festivals and other fun activities at this beach. I visited this place once, and I enjoyed the scenery and the surroundings even though it was not as clean as mbezi beach due to a lot of seaweeds which hindered swimming to some extent. At the time I was there, there was an event that was going on which seemed of be of young people who were dancing to the loud music which was being played. My friends could not swim for long as there were locals there who kept taunting of being naked in seeing us in our swimming costumes. It is then that we realized we are in a region where most people are Muslims and are conservative hence we decided to change and watch the group of people dancing around. The beach is not safest, so it’s not advisable to carry your valuable items when coming here.
Where to go shopping
Mlimani City Mall
This is the largest mall in Tanzania and it’s the first air-conditioned mall in the country. It is a one-stop shopping mall with multiple stores, banks, ATMs, supermarkets, a movie theatre among others. I bought some items from the supermarket, and one of the stores in this mall and I can confidently say that the prices of commodities here are affordable. It was quite unfortunate I was not able to take pictures in the mall since I went there late in the evening.
This is an open air market which is at the centre of Dar es Salaam. The market is full of a buzz of activities with some people selling on the streets, others in rented stalls and others by the road. If you want to buy things at low prices when you are in this region, then this is the place to be. If you are very good at bargaining and you can act like a local, you will be able to get the best deals at friendly prices. Take care of your belonging as you walk around this market as it mostly crowded and not all people are here to buy or sell.
Tips and hacks
- Try to bargain as much as you can and act as if you are a Tanzanian. Traders here can take advantage and hike prices of items once they discover you are a tourist.
- Use the Tanzanian shillings when paying as it is cheaper than using your currency.
- Be cautious of beach boys who take advantage of female visitors and squander all their money.
- Avoid swimming late in the evening when there are strong tides.
- Kariakoo market is always crowded, look after your belongings carefully and avoid carrying your precious items here.
- Dress appropriately as this is a Muslim community and hence the people here are very conservative. It is advisable to swim in a swimsuit than a bikini on the beach.