Tanzania: Where is the good stuff?
Opdateret: 6. feb. 2020
'Mambo iko huko' says my friend Rachel's kanga - 'the good stuff is here' - now, place the kanga text on your best asset. More about kangas below.
I frequently get asked for advice on Tanzania in terms of visits and holidays. And I keep repeating myself in e-mails and Facebook comments. Here, I'll try to gather what I usually say - in one place. Mind you, it is no way near a comprehensive guide, it is what I propose from the top of my head. Feel free to add what works for you by commenting!
I wrote two pieces for the Danish daily Politiken about how to spend 48 hours in respectively Dar es Salaam and Arusha. The first article is from 2011, the second from 2016, but both are with minor exemptions still valid.
If you read Danish, of course:
Should you want to go to Kigoma at Lake Tanganyika (where I amongst others did field work for my thesis), I'm also happy to help with inputs on what to see and how to go about Kigoma.
I have also written (mainly in Danish) about fashion, politics, women, art, poetry, music, and recently I spoke about Tanzania in a radio programme on Danish Broadcasting dealing with the filmatisation of the book 'Liberty' by the Danish author, Jakob Ejersbo.
TOUCHING GROUND - DAR ES SALAAM
For Dar es Salaam, I should add/emphasise the following suggestions which I usually get questioned about in terms of where to go for what (I always do 1 + 2 + 4 when I return):
1. Do make a trip to Kisutu, the old part of Dar es Salaam. Visit New Zahir's in Mosque Street for their chai na chapati - and the history: Other visitors before you were FRELIMO fighters and ANC members in exile from respectively Mocambique and South Africa. Stories go that this is where Che Guevara took his tea when he spent three months in the Cuban Embassy after his failed trip to the Congo, and where he wrote 'Congo Diary'. Other stories indicate that Malcom X came may have made space for it, too, on a short trip to Dar es Salaam.
2. Then head down to Uhuru Street for checking the latest kanga and vitenge (fabric with colourful print). Read more about it here.
3. Drinks at 17:00 on Level 8 at the Kilimanjaro Hotel is expensive, but you get the best views over the town as the sun sets. Alternatively Akemi, which has a revolving restaurant (insha'Allah).
4. Walk, or take a cab (or order an Uber) and go down Zanaki Street for dinner at the Badminton Institute - if I invite all I know to join for dinner, this is where I call, as there is always space, it is possible to reach by public transport (but probably not when you want to head home in late evening) from many parts of the city, and it is affordable, good Indian food.
5. The Peninsula is another chapter - you can spend days here and not realise the rest of Dar es Salaam has washed away during the rains. Here's tarmac, air condition and a steady group of expats keeping price levels higher than anywhere else.
6. The beaches
Boats depart from Slipway (and Jangwani Resort and White Sands Hotel on north coast) for day trips to the islands of Mbudya and Bongoyo. You can also decide to stay on these hotels and enjoy the beach here.
Or you can move a bit further out of town to Lazy Lagoon, which however may be more of a weekend trip.
Or go south to Kigamboni (across the bridge/ferry) to one of the resorts, such as for instance Kipepeo Beach Village.
Do of course observe advice on security in all matters when going to the beach.
Woodberry Cafe has good coffee, food and wifi (and upstairs one of the best places to have pedicure, manicure and waxing - and opposite on parking lot there is a great shop selling the finest vegetables, berries, spice, oils etc.). Epi d'or, same thing with a Middle Eastern section. Slipway, especially the Waterfront is a rather decent place for drinks and sunset over the Indian Ocean.
Mbezi Beach is another spot I always end up - things have changed fast here from a rough road in 2004 to tarmac and an always busy Mwai Kibaki Road along the ocean - especially on weekends where people head out to the northern beaches for drinks and loud music, or a bit of breeze. Mediterraneo is still there (but expensive, and last year in December it wasn't allowed for non-guests to use their pool). Always good, fresh food though! Geez is new (2017) and offers amazingly good food - not much more than a small house on the road side, however, offering some of the best meals in Dar. (The chef used to work at Karafuu, which used to be another decent restaurant, though I haven't eaten there myself since June 2015).
AND WHERE TO GO DANCING?
You could just head down Haile Selassie and settle in a night club or bar, it is busy on weekend nights - including drunk drivers and usual madness. I'd go to Mbalamwezi in Mikocheni on the beach where you can dance barefeet. The band/DJ fills the dancefloor, and you have sand under your feet. Otherwise stay on the Peninsula and head down to Trinity
For Zanzibar generally, I recommend you read my friend Amanda's articles. Find an overview of all here, and let me particularly recommend the following:
If into literature, its history and current state, read 'Literary Boroughs #46: Stone Town, Zanzibar, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania'.
And loads of deep insights into daily life in Zanzibar here.
Amanda's version of a perfect day in Stone Town here pretty much resembles mine. It is a very valid and detailed guide for how to make the most of a good day in Stone Town.
And there is also a lot to learn reading about Urojo - the Zanzibar MIx.
I am not a great fan myself of observing animals and nature from a car but I know a very competent guy, who runs a safari company. E-mail me, and I will pass on his contacts.
NB: THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED CONTINOUSLY