Introduction to Dar es Salaam

Nestled along the sparkling Indian Ocean, Dar es Salaam is a vibrant coastal city, captivating visitors with bustling energy.
The city’s stunning architecture, delectable cuisine, and welcoming locals make it a must-visit destination in East Africa.

Why visit Dar es Salaam?

  • The city is rich in cultural heritage, delicious food, and stunning architecture.
  • You can explore the city’s bustling markets, relax on beautiful beaches, or take a boat tour to nearby islands.
  • You can visit historic landmarks like Askari Monument, National Museum, or St. Joseph Cathedral.
  • You can witness traditional dance performances and festivals showcasing vibrant music and art in Dar es Salaam.
  • There are nearby reserves like Mikumi and Nyerere National Park, offering thrilling safari experiences.

Getting to Dar es Salaam

By Road

You can drive from Arusha to Dar-es-Salaam, covering a distance of 640km / 10 hours.

By Air

Flight from Arusha or Kilimanjaro to Dar-es-Salaam is around an hour.

Best Time to Visit Dar es Salaam.

The best period to visit Dar es Salaam is from June to October.
The weather is dry and pleasant during this period, perfect for beach activities and exploring the city’s cultural sites.
It’s important to note that November to March can be hot and humid, with occasional rain showers.
Also, April to May is the low season, with a long rainy season, fewer crowds, and lower prices.
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Things to do in Dar es Salaam

Whether you’re interested in learning about history, trying new foods, or soaking up the sun, there is something for everyone.

Popular Activities in Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam is a vibrant city that offers a variety of activities for any guest to enjoy. Check these all out below. 

Landscape in Dar es Salaam

Here are some fantastic landscapes you may want to consider visiting.

Birdlife in Dar es Salaam

Home to diverse resident and migratory bird species, making it a popular destination for birdwatching enthusiasts.

Where to stay in Dar es Salaam

Some popular areas to stay in Dar es Salaam include the city center, Msasani Peninsula, and Oyster Bay.

City of Dar es Salaam Tours: Our Top Tours in Dar es Salaam

Reviews of Dar es Salaam

Top questions answered for Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam is unlike anywhere you’ve been before. Here are the top ten most frequently asked questions about Dar es Salaam

Like many large cities, Dar es Salaam has its share of crime and safety concerns. You should avoid displaying valuables, walking alone at night, and using reputable taxis or ride-hailing services.

It’s also recommended to stay in well-lit and busy areas and to be aware of potential scams. However, with proper precautions, many tourists visit Dar es Salaam and have a safe and enjoyable experience.
The local currency in Dar es Salaam and throughout Tanzania is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS). It is recommended to exchange currency at official banks or exchange bureaus, as unofficial money changers may offer less favorable rates or engage in fraud. Many larger businesses, hotels, and restaurants also accept major credit cards.

Dar es Salaam offers a variety of unique souvenirs to bring back home, such as:

Tingatinga paintings:These colorful paintings depicting local wildlife and scenery are famous and unique souvenirs.

Kanga fabrics: These brightly patterned fabrics, often featuring Swahili phrases or sayings, are commonly worn as skirts or headscarves.

Maasai jewelry: Handmade beaded jewelry, often sold by Maasai women, is a popular souvenir in Tanzania.

Tanzanite: This blue or purple gemstone is only found in Tanzania and is often sold in jewelry form.

Wooden carvings: Hand-carved wooden sculptures of animals or traditional African masks make for unique souvenirs.

Coffee: Tanzania is known for its coffee production, and locally sourced coffee beans make for a tasty and unique souvenir.

Spices: Zanzibar, a short ferry ride from Dar es Salaam, is known for its spice production and offers a variety of unique spice blends and individual herbs for purchase.

Knowing local customs and etiquette is essential when any foreign country. Here are a few examples: 

Greeting: It is customary to greet people with a handshake and to use titles such as “Mzee” for an elder or “Bwana” for a man. Using “Habari” for “hello” or “how are you” is also common. 

Dress: it’s recommended to dress modestly and avoid revealing clothing, particularly in more conservative areas. This is especially important when visiting religious sites. 

Religion: Visitors should respect local customs and practices in Tanzania, a predominantly Muslim country. For instance, it is typical to remove shoes before entering a mosque. 

Eating: Eating with the left hand is considered impolite, as it is traditionally associated with hygiene practices. It is also regarded as rude to waste food. 

Language: Swahili is the official language of Tanzania, and while many people also speak English, it’s polite to learn a few basic phrases in Swahili. 

Tipping: Tipping is expected and is appreciated. A small tip of around 10% is generally sufficient for good service in restaurants, hotels, and tours. 

Dar es Salaam has a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity year-round. The city experiences two rainy seasons: a short rainy season from October to December and a long rainy season from March to May. 

The hottest months are between December and March, with temperatures regularly reaching 32-35°C (90-95°F). Meanwhile, the coolest months are between June and August, with temperatures averaging around 26-28°C (79-82°F). 

It’s important to note that the humidity can make the temperatures feel much hotter, particularly during the rainy seasons.

Swahili is the official language of Tanzania, including Dar es Salaam. However, many people in Dar es Salaam also speak English, particularly in tourist areas and among those who have received higher education.

Getting around Dar es Salaam can be challenging due to traffic congestion, limited public transportation options, and often poorly maintained roads. That being said, there are several ways to navigate the city: 

Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Dar es Salaam and are the easiest way to get around. However, it’s to negotiate the fare before getting into the taxi. 

Buses: Several bus companies operate in Dar es Salaam, but the buses can be crowded and unreliable. Additionally, many buses do not have air conditioning, which can be uncomfortable in the hot and humid weather. 

Bajaj: These small, three-wheeled vehicles operate as taxis in Dar es Salaam. They are inexpensive and can weave through traffic, but they can be unsafe in the event of an accident. 

Walking: Walking can be a viable option for getting around, depending on where you’re staying. However, being aware of your surroundings and taking safety precautions are essential. 

Car rental: If you have an international driver’s license, you can rent a car in Dar es Salaam. However, be prepared for severe traffic and poorly maintained roadways. Getting around Dar es Salaam can be challenging, but navigating the city with patience and flexibility is possible. 

There are many cultural attractions to visit in Dar es Salaam. Here are a few must-visit destinations: 

National Museum of Tanzania: This museum houses a vast collection of archaeological artifacts, ethnographic exhibits, and natural history specimens. 

Village Museum: This open-air museum showcases the traditional homes and lifestyles of over a dozen ethnic groups across Tanzania. 

Askari Monument: commemorates the African soldiers who fought in World War I. 

St. Joseph’s Cathedral: This beautiful cathedral, located in the heart of Dar es Salaam, is a landmark of the city’s Catholic community. 

Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society: This is a cooperative of artists who create and sell Tingatinga paintings. This is a popular style of African art characterized by bright colors and bold, stylized figures. 

Kariakoo Market: This bustling market is a great place to experience the sights and sounds of Dar es Salaam’s vibrant street life and pick up some local souvenirs. 

These are just a few of the many cultural attractions that Dar es Salaam has to offer. 

Dar es Salaam’s food reflects the country’s diverse ethnic groups and culinary traditions. Some of the most popular dishes in Dar es Salaam include: 

Ugali: is a staple food made from maize flour, similar to a stiff porridge, often served with stews and sauces. 

Nyama Choma: Grilled meat, usually beef or goat, is a popular dish in Dar es Salaam, often served with a side of ugali. 

Pilau: This rice dish is flavored with cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves and is often served with meat or vegetables. 

Chapati: This is a flatbread similar to Indian naan, often served as a side dish or as a wrap for grilled meats. 

Samosas: These are triangular pastries filled with spiced vegetables or meat. 

Seafood: As a coastal city, Dar es Salaam is known for its fresh seafood, including grilled fish, prawns, and lobster. Many street food vendors sell snacks such as grilled maize, fried plantains, and roasted peanuts.  

Vegetarian options are widely available, with many dishes featuring lentils, beans, and vegetables. Overall, the food in Dar es Salaam is flavorful and diverse, reflecting the city’s unique cultural heritage. 

You can visit several nearby islands and beaches easily from Dar es Salaam. This includes Zanzibar, Bongoyo Island, Mbudya Island, and Kigamboni Beach. There are many other islands and beaches to explore, making Dar es Salaam an excellent base for a tropical vacation. 

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