Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s business hub and a major East African city. Tanzania’s major port city is generally regarded as a transit zone for tourists on their way to safari and Zanzibar holidays. Where to stay and what to do on your short stopover makes all the difference.
The city center of Dar es Salaam is not big but it has several large hotels. These hotels service, almost exclusively, the business-travel market. Many of the regulars wise up to the possibility of adding a little ‘holiday’ feeling to their stay.
But there are also several well-located seaside properties in the more Upmarket northern part of town, the Msasani Peninsula, those are very popular and totally geared to business travellers and tourists alike.
The Peninsula is the more modern, rapidly developing part of Dar, and yet it also has a more laidback, ‘island’ vibe. It’s where most of the embassies are, the new shopping malls and the expats’ neighborhoods with their large houses guarded by Masai ‘askaris’.
Hotels often double as entertainment venues for the locals, especially the expats – indeed, the restaurants and bars can be better than the rooms. Here is a guide to some of the best in town.
Sleep in Dar es Salaam
Oyster Bay Hotel, over the road from the beach, is a gorgeous boutique hotel with a pool, garden, great food and wonderful staff.
In town, the Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski is slick, well-geared to business travellers and has a pool deck overlooking the harbour and a fantastic rooftop bar.
The reliable Sea Cliff Hotel has a superb location, great bar and restaurants, and a pool.
Coral Beach Hotel has good rooms, a romantic dining terrace and a tiny beach with a ladder going into the sea.
Mediterraneo offers 19 chalets in a tropical garden, with a pool and a stretch of beach.
Eat in Dar es Salaam
Themed buffets (Chinese, Italian, seafood, game, Indian etc) are very popular in Dar. Especially at the larger hotels, but also at local eateries.
Epi d’Or (022-260-1663) bakery is close to the Sea Cliff Hotel.
Addis in Dar (071-326-6299), tuck into delicately spiced Ethiopian stews (chicken, beef, prawns, lentils), mopped up with injera (pancakes).
Or choose from over 30 maki rolls, plus gyoza (Japanese dumplings), tempura andnoodle dishes at Osaka (075-526-
Sweet Eazy’s (075-575-4074) fabulous menu includes jumbo prawns, a Swahili platter, raw marinated-tuna salad, spiced half-chicken and a ‘super’ schnitzel.
The Cape Town fishmarket recently opened their first Restaurant in Tanzania (180 Msanani Bay) Fresh seafood and sushi.
At Mediterraneo (075-481-2657),try the black fettucine with lobster and clams in garlic and white wine, orthe spinach and ricotta-stuffed calamari on mashed pumpkin.
Black Tomato (078-786-6286) has hooked into the fresh-produce foodie craze, and also offers tapas, sangria and cocktails on weekend nights in its garden setting.
City Garden in town (Samora Avenue) is a local-style outdoor eaterie: try the goat, chilli and onion soup, banana soup and the curries.
Things to do in Dar es Salaam
- Pay an early morning visit to the fish market and Kariakoo Market (The biggest indoor market in east Africa0
- Mawazo Gallery (UpangaRoad, 078-478-2770) is the best for contemporary local art.
- At Wonder Welders (075-405-1417) is a community project where one can watch artisans make recycled-glass beads and jewellery, whimsical recycled-metal sculptures, wood carvings and handmade paper.
- Pick up some treats from Taj Mahal Sweet Mart, in
the centre of town (next to the mosque).
- Chill out at locals’ favourite, the cool Coco Beach Club on the water’s edge in Oyster Bay.
- The Slipway on the peninsula (slipway.net) is the most atmospheric shopping centre (similar to Cape Town’s Waterfront but on a much smaller scale) – lovely decor shops here include Casa In, Catherine Kattala and The Green Room.
- Day-long dhow-fishing trips can be arranged through Kipepeo Beach Camp (073-292-0211), while Authentic Tanzania (078-497-2571) offers a day trip to see turtles.
- The guys from Mediterraneo also own the Runway Lounge, one of Dar’s hippest new clubs (at the Shoppers Plaza centre).
Text & photos Robbert Koene