Remnants of a spectacular history give Tanzania’s mainland coast an appeal far greater than just sun, sand and sea. More than 800 kms of coastline, from Tanga in the north to Mtwara in the south, consist of palm-fringed, white sandy beaches looking out over the warm, sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean which offer unlimited scope for big game fishing, scuba-diving, snorkelling and other varieties of water sports. But insufficient attention is often paid to the vast array of other natural and cultural resources. In addition to the beach resorts to both the north and south of Dar es Salaam, there are a number of other major tourist attractions. Ancient Bagamoyo, a former capital city, and the nearby Kaole Ruins; historical Mafia island; the history, culture and natural beauty of Pangani; Saadani National Park and the World Heritage sites of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara. Areas scheduled for development include the Mnazi Bay area of Mtwara and the Rufiji River delta
Some 70 km north of Dar es Salaam, on the coast opposite the southern tip of Zanzibar, Bagamoyo is the former capital of German East Africa. Possessing a good, natural harbour ideal for sailing vessels and dhows, it was once the centre of the notorious slave trade. Its name is derived from the word Bwagomoyo, which means “Here I throw down my heart,” reflecting the desperation and despair of the ‘broken hearted’ captives whose voyage into the unknown began here. The present police station, near the beachfront, was the first stone building in Bagamayo. Originally an Arab residence it was at one time the old prison where slaves were herded through underground tunnels to waiting dhows. The city was also the starting point for the first European explorers on their way to search for the source of the Nile. In fact Livingstone, Stanley, Burton and Speke all passed through here. Livingstone’s body was laid to rest here before being taken first to Zanzibar and then to England. The Mission has a museum with a wonderful collection of photographs and mementoes relating to Livingstone and to the German colonial times. A house where Henry Morton Stanley once lived a century ago can be seen in solitary splendour near the beach.
DAR ES SALAAM
Dar es Salaam boasts one of the finest natural harbours in the world, and while it has become a bustling port and economic centre, it remains a place of fascination, with many reminders of its colourful past. Dhows still ply its waters. Dug-outs, filled with fish, bob by the harbourside. The city also displays the many influences of its history. There’s an Asian district, with its speciality shops, tea rooms, restaurants and Hindu temples, while the German colonisation has left behind a Bavarian-style railway station, the Roman Catholic St. Joseph’s Cathedral and the Lutheran Azania Front Church. The flower-filled parks.
like the peaceful Botanical Gardens
tree-lined streets and Gymkana Club, are evidence of British occupation.
The Nyerere Cultural Centre, a self-supporting handicraft scheme, is well worth a visit. Here over 100 young artists can be seen at work producing various works including paintings, carvings, batiks, pottery and weavings. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Kariakoo Market were fish, fruit, vegetables, traditional medicines, herbs and livestock are traded. The maze of stalls and shops in the bazaar that surrounds the market, are also worth exploring. Nearby beaches include Armani, Bahari, Jangwani, Kunduchi and Oyster Bay. Jangwani and Kunduchi both feature water amusement parks
About five kilometres to the south of Bagamayo, at Kaole, are the ruins of a once prosperous Arab town, which was forced into decline by the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century. The ruins, dating back to the 12th century include two mosques, one with a well and over 20 tombs. All the buildings, including a house, were built in carved coral stone blocks. The new part of Kaole is a fishing and farming village.
A group of three former settlements – Kilwa Kivinje and Kilwa Masoko on the mainland and the offshore island of Kilwa Kisiwani - Kilwa was originally established as a centre for the gold trade. Now a World Heritage site, it is home to some of the most spectacular ruins on the East African coast. Kilwa Kisiwani and the nearby Songo Mnara Islands contain numerous ruins many dating back to the 13th century.
A 20 minute flight south of Dar es Salaam, Mafia Island was Tanzania’s first Marine Park. It is one of the most exciting diving and fishing areas in the world and is home to some four hundred species of fish and five species of turtle. Sports fisherman flock here for the superb catches, many of them great fighters, which include barracuda, marlin, sailfish and tuna. The main season is from September to March although fishing is possible all year round within the reef and channel Divers will see a veritable kaleidoscope of reef dwellers among the fifty types of coral. These include butterfly fish, clown fish, lion fish and rainbow fish while, in deeper waters, they will come across groupers, rays and sharks. The rare dugong breeds in the Mafia Channel while the green and hawksbill turtle nest on the smaller islands