Dar es Salaam, meaning The Haven of Peace in Arabic, has one of the best deep natural harbours in the world. From a small Swahili town in the middle of the 19th century, Dar es Salaam has grown into a large metropolitan centre with a population of over 3,500,000 dwellers. The city population represents the over 120 tribes of Tanzania with their different cultural backgrounds coming together, alongside the oriental civilizations from the far and middle east, and the Europeans including early Portuguese visitors in the 16th Century, the Germans and later the British. All cultures at one time or another passed through Dar es Salaam. It is necessary to visit Dar es Salaam to understand the secret of letting different cultures live together in absolute harmony.
Being the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam is also the main gateway to the nature reserves of southern Tanzania, which include the Selous and Saadani Game Reserves and the National Parks of Mikumi, Ruaha and Udzungwa Mountains. It also serves as a convenient connection for travel to the islands of Mafia, Zanzibarand Pemba both by sea and air. A city tour of Dar es Salaam will take you to the National Museum, Nyerere Cultural Centre, the Village Museum, Mwenge Carvings Market, and the Magogoni Fish Market, among other interesting spots.
Some 75 kilometres to the north of Dar es Salaam lies Bagamoyo, once the embarkation port for slaves from the hinterland, and later the first German colonial capital. It is a place of considerable significance to world history, both as an entry point for Arab and European missionaries, explorers, and traders in East and Central Africa, and in the history of the infamous slave trade. Fortunately Bagamoyo is now being considered for inclusion into one of the World Heritage sites, to conserve and protect the fascinating Gothic and Afro-Arabic architecture in this coastal settlement steeped in history.
Tourist attractions include the Kaole ruins dating back to the 12th century thought to mark one of the earliest contacts of Islam with Africa; the Old Fort built in 1860 for holding slaves for shipment to Zanzibar; the first Roman Catholic Church in East Africa built around 1868 used as a base to run a camp of about 650 freed slaves; the German colonial administration headquarters, the Boma, in the first capital of German East Africa; the Mission Museum displaying history of Bagamoyo; and the Livingstone Memorial Church among others. Bagamoyo white sand beaches are considered some of the finest on the whole of the East African coast.
Located 120kms south of Dar es Salaam. Mafia is an unspoiled, uncommercial, timeless island, where local people go about their traditional businesses apparently completely detached from the outside world. Just a short twenty-minute flight from Dar es Salaam, across the great Rufiji River delta, Mafia is large and flat, with a sandy landscape that is more similar in character to the mainland than to the coral rag of Zanzibar or the hilly fertility of Pemba.
The major tourist activities are scuba diving, big game fishing, snorkeling, beach and offshore excursions. Mafia is a paradise for fishermen, divers and watersport lovers.The water is beautifully transparent on Mafia Island, and the variety of the coral permits an unimaginable quantity of fishes. The waters are unsurpassed in beauty, and there are fantastic views of the unspoiled coral reef. With its fine sandy beaches, swaying palms and lush vegetation, Mafia is the ideal spot to relax and unwind after a great African safari. Chole Bay and its surrounding forests and islands are now within the protected Mafia Island Marine Park, supported with assistance from the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The reefs offer a range of corals and fish like no other in the Indian Ocean, and diving and snorkeling sites are just a short boat ride away. Isolated islets and beaches, lagoons, coves and channels provide many private swimming and picnicking hideaways. Chole Bay is perfect for windsurfing and laser sailing. Bird-watching is excellent and very different to the mainland parks that guests may have visited. The tidal flats and mangroves are always alive with coastal and sea birds and there are many colourful woodland and forest species. There are also roosts of the unusual and fascinating giant Madagascan fruit bat to see on nearby Chole Island.
The name Pangani is derived from the river that runs through northern part of this Historical Town flowing from the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Located about 50km South from Tanga, it is believed to have been established before the 6th Century BC and played an important role during the slave trade era. It was a trading port dealing mainly with ivory and slaves. Several historical sites in and around the town serve as reminders for the strong Arabic influence and the later German, British colonial era in Tanganyika. Currently Pangani is mainly a fishing town providing beautiful beaches with coconut trees. Someone looking for a quiet vacation and an experience of African culture untouched by modern tourism Pangani would be an answer to that.
Places of interest in Pangani - There is a waterfall at Pangani River that provides electricity for Tanga, Arusha, Moshi and Dar es Salaam. The river also has a number of birds and crocodiles.
- Maziwi Island is a nature reserve which provides ground for snorkeling opportunity and dolphin tour.
- A walking tour through the town allows one to see some of old buildings that are over 200 years old, as well as visits to a former slave labor camps and slave market site where arabs traded slaves to India and Arabia, the Freedom Grounds, Islamic and German graves, ancient mosques and traditional houses. One will also see the streets carpet makers, woodcarvers, basket weavers, painters and other artisans sell a wide variety of hand made cultural items.
Located about 80km from Zanzibar Island, about the same distance directly east of Tanga on the Tanzanian mainland. With its hilly landscape its highest point is less than 100 metres above sea level, by size Pemba is smaller than Unguja.
Arab sailors once named Pemba as 'El Huthera', meaning the Green, due to her dense and lush vegetation. There are more natural forests and plantations than on Zanzibar Island, and Pemba grows more cloves than her Zanzibar. Today, earnings from the clove crop are supported by other agricultural products, cattle raising, and by fishing, which is an important source of livelihood. Pemba is also popular for its voodoo and traditional healers. People come from throughout East Africa seeking cures or to learn the skills of the art from practioners on Pemba.
The interesting point about Pemba is its wealth of natural resources ranging from beaches to mangrove ecosystems to natural forests. The coral reefs surrounding the island protect a massive amount of marine species and offer some of the best diving spots in the world. While much of the coast is lined with mangroves, there are a few amazing stretches of shoreline and enough attractive offshore islands with pure, clean beaches and interesting bird-life to keep someone busy for quite a while.
Set like a jewel in tranquil coral waters, only 20 minutes flight from Dar es Salaam, is one of the world’s most beautiful islands - Zanzibar. Its name evokes a romantic past. To the shores of these islands came Summerians, Assyrians, Hindus, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Arabians, Chinese, Malaysians, and the Portuguese, all sailing in on Monsoon winds. From these shores the great European explorers Burton, Speke, Livingstone, Krapf, Rebman, and Grant set out on their voyages of discovery into the East and Central African hinterland.
The different races that have settled in Zanzibar over the centuries have left an imprint on the people and the architecture. The “House of Wonders” and the narrow streets of the Old Stone Town are just some of the vivid reminders of the islands long and coloured history.
Zanzibar is also the birthplace of the fascinating Swahili culture with its elegant architecture, full of balconies, courtyards, hand-carved doors and mosques. For centuries the historic spice Islands of Zanzibar has evoked a mystical and magical dream. Fascinating history, exotic spices, sandy beaches and hospitable people... this is the enchantment of Zanzibar.
Different excursions are arranged while in Zanzibar. These include taking visitors to spices plantations in the countryside where a variety of seasonal spices, tropical fruits and medicinal herbs are grown. Detailed description of the spices is given, and their uses in cooking and cosmetics. Guests will be fascinated by the sheer number of spices produced, and by their incredible value for many ailments. This is also the cheapest place to purchase spices and oil extracts. Zanzibar is popularly referred to as the “Spice Islands”.