Getting to Tanzania
Apart from planes to Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam, there are plenty of regular African buses lurching from Kenya to Tanzania. Nairobi – Arusha or Dar es Salaam, Mombasa – Dar es Salaam, Voi – Moshi, for example.
More adventurous visitors might try for a dhow sailing from Mombasa – Zanzibar (Pemba).
From Zambia’s Kapiri Mposhi trains run erratically on the Tazara line to Dar es Salaam.
Getting around Tanzania
• Domestic airlines perform respectably and prices are acceptable.
• Buses, both full size and mini-buses known as dalla-dalla are the transport norm and get just about everywhere though roads are in bad shape and accident rates high, especially on the Arusha to Moshi route. Buses are not permitted to travel at night.
• Car rental costs are high, particularly since most tourists will require a 4WD vehicle hired from Dar es Salaam.
• Ferries are an interesting option and can be found on Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa and on the sea coast, but sadly the lovely, tranquil and traditional dhow as serious transport is now rare in Tanzania after a couple of bad accidents with tourists.
Zanzibar’s Stone Town. Photo by David Berkowitz
What to do in Tanzania other than hiking or animal pursuits
***Zanzibar culture, beaches and diving.
*Legendary Lake Victoria, source of the Nile, is in Tanzania’s northwest and also borders Uganda and Kenya. This is Africa’s largest expanse of freshwater but surrounded mostly by mankind these days and inhabited by decreasing numbers of fish and increasing numbers of malarial mosquitoes and bilharzial snails as the lake’s eco-system gives up under the weight of human demands.
Victoria’s premier (Tanzania) tourist destination is Mwanza port, convenient for visiting the primitive islands of Ukerewe and Ukara, the Sukuma Museum (Tanzania’s largest tribe are the Sukuma) and even Serengeti National Park, just 5km from the lake. Surrounded by rocky hills Mwanza is Tanzania’s second-largest city and the core of the lake area.
Matemwe Beach on Zanzibar Island. Photo by Olivier Lejad.
**Dar es Salaam (aka Dar, or Bongo by locals, possibly because bongs are always on the go) is not the capital of the country (which is dull Dodoma) but a large, lively and cosmopolitan port city throbbing with African music, an eclectic nightlife that rivals any in East Africa, good food, great shopping in the Kariakoo Market, a couple of small but worthwhile museums and even some fine beaches.
North of the city are several developed beaches, such as Jangwani (21kms) which has both a family-friendly Waterworld amusement park and colourful coral reefs for scuba divers a few kilometres offshore. Fungu Yasini, 7kms away is the easiest dive to access while snorkelling is a treat around Mbudya Island, 3km offshore.
South of Dar the beaches are less organised and more lie-back-and-fry, with a scattering of accommodation ranging from campsites to pricey lodges, but no scuba to shout about.
Dar es Salaam is gateway to the three luscious islands, culture, beaches and scuba diving of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.
A day trip north from Dar is Bagamoyo, a notorious slaving port and home to many exquisite colonial buildings.
South of Dar lurk dazzling, empty beaches and ancient ruins but the roads become extremely poor and travel there is rewarding but only for tough cookies.
Dar es Salaam, not what most Tanzania tourists are looking for but it has a certain energy. Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.