Before Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital was a small fishing village that grew into an important city centered on trade. Dar es Salaam was founded in the mid-1800s by Majid bin Said, the sultan of Zanzibar, who transformed the village into a city. At first, Dar es Salaam was dominated by the German’s in the late 1880s to the early 1900s until World War I, at which point the British took over. It took a few decades before Dar es Salaam could prosper, and in 1961, Tanzania (then known as Tanganyika territory) gained its independence. The City suffered in the latter half of the 20th century due to socialism, but in 2000, Dar es Salaam experienced rapid urban growth with booming businesses, architectural developments and establishments of roads and bridges. Today, Dar es Salaam offers an array of excellent eateries, fantastic shopping, interesting sites and terrific tours to visitors.
For those who are thinking or planning a vacation to Tanzania’s capital, here are a few gems to check off your list of to-dos.
Want to learn and see some history? Head over to the Village Museum, created in 1996 and features traditional huts from 16 various Tanzanian ethnic groups. You can go in and out of the huts and see its contents and how they were built, listen and watch traditional dance and music (for a fee), and learn about the ways and culture of the locals.
Pugu Hills Forest Reserve
Escape the city center to the Pugu Hills Forest Reserve where you can take a hiking trip or cycle with a tour guide (hikes last around 3.5 hours) through the terrain. You may encounter wildlife on the way (but don’t worry, you’re safe), and the view at the top of the hill is breathtaking! Many locals come here to jog, so if you want to get some outdoor fitness while in Dar es Salaam, this may be exactly where you should go.
Chuma Art Workshop
African art is unique, beautiful and makes a wonderful gift to bring back home. Although there are plenty of shops around Dar es Salaam to wander through, we recommend Chuma Art Workshop, which sells artworks from physically disabled artisans who prove to the world that nothing can stand in their way of producing beautiful pieces that can last a lifetime. At Chuma Art Workshop you can find animals and objects put together with different metal pieces from cars and bikes, ranging from very large to very small sizes.
If you’re looking to eat somewhere low-key with mouthwatering dishes, head over to Mamboz Restaurant. This place is a dress down type of restaurant known for its BBQ and relaxed atmosphere. Mamboz Restaurant has a mix of local Tanzanian cuisine, Chinese and other African territories merged together—from sekela chicken and chips, fresh butter naan and tikka kebabs to Nyama chopa and BBQ pizza and wings. It’s cheap too and the portion sizes are large, so make sure to come hungry!
The Slow Leopard
Kick-off your night at The Slow Leopard, a low-key bar serving beer and wine as well as traditional burgers made from local, fresh ingredients. The light environment fuels in locals and expats together to enjoy a game on the large television or just to hang out. The Slow Leopard is open Monday through Friday from 12pm to 12am and Saturday through Sunday from 10am to 12am.
Dar es Salaam may not be on everyone’s bucket list but it shouldn’t be disregarded. This vibrant city has a lot to offer locals and world travelers who are just stopping by for a day or two. If you’re ever in Dar es Salaam, we hope this city guide will help you find some gems to explore.
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