How to holiday in Tanzania
Tanzania is still one of my favorite destinations in the world. Despite or maybe because its recent economic, political and social troubles, I highly recommend anyone to go explore: wander Zanzibar’s beaches, dance the night away in Dar es Salaam, learn about Bagamoyo’s history or stop for the best chapatis by the roadside. To make this easier here are some of my personal top tips for Tanzania.
Dar es Salaam
Tanzania’s cultural capital has so much to offer you can spend 24 hours or 24 days and not get bored (after a couple of months you probably would though)
Stay in Masaki:
If you are feeling adventurous, drive out to Mbezi Beach to catch a boat to Mbudya Island (a marine reserve about 20 minutes off the coast and beautiful) You can get the local boat from White Sands Hotel. Bongoyo Island is another gem just off the coast of Dar. To get there you catch a boat from Slipway in Masaki (can be arranged next to Waterfront Restaurant). Eat as much Lobster and chips as you can!
Eat & Drink
For the best food: Karafuu 305 (the owner has re-purposed his garage to a top-end restaurant — best steak in town — with amazing art and great atmosphere)
Cape Town Fish Market for sunset drinks or Vino — a great place to drink good wine. Vino has two restaurants attached — a diving Jamaican fusion place (Kingston 8) and a vegan gourmet restaurant.
There are a multitude of amazing safari’s in Kilimanjaro / Serengeti such as Ngororo crater, but I opted for Selous, which is a bit off the beaten track and you can safari njema so cheap it is unheard off.
How to get there: Book flights with local airline Coastal Airlines, super responsive and efficient. Just email the office and ask for a quote for days and destination. I’ve booked all internal flights with them. Also flights to Zanzibar or any other park you want to go to. They can also arrange safari packages.
However, I would suggest to stay at Selous River Camp, super responsive as well. Book the Mudhut for a more upmarket experience. Great hospitality and it definitely does not feel like a budget choice.
Zanzibar is an onomatopoeic place, which promises what it preaches: exotic, hot, lazily sweet summer days all year round. Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, was for centuries a base for traders voyaging between Arabia, India and Africa.
Wake up to the call of the Muezzin and watch the fishermen bring in their daily catch, dive through crystal clear water and swim with sea turtles. Zanzibar is surrounded by pristine white beaches: Paje on the island’s east coast is a barefoot-chic hideaway with great windsurfing, Nungwi and Kendwa are prime spots for a buzzy beach-party scene with famed full moon parties. Quieter and one of the true jewels of the Indian Ocean is the sandy atoll of Mnemba. During the day hire a scooter to explore the lush interior or book a spice tour. See how vanilla grows, taste fresh chocolate fruits and learn local secrets for a happy wedding (Spoiler: bride and groom are given stimulating betel nuts to thoroughly enjoy their wedding night).
However, given my own limited financial means, I stayed at Sunshine Hotel which was more than decent — albeit a bit quiet. Their sister hotel Sunshine Marine Resort is worth a visit, hard to discover, eco-friendly and probably has one of the coolest infinity pools. I’d definitely recommend booking the snorkelling tour with them (at their dive centre). The treatments at their main Sunshine hotel were good as well. Top tip: the restaurant next door is a bit more lively and affordable than at Sunshine’s.
For further up the coast I suggest, Warere Beach Hotel and as a second choice if the ever popular Warere is booked up: Ras Nungwi. On the east coast Karafuu Beach Resort is a good tip if you want to go the famous The Rock for cocktails.
Definitely spend a day in Stone Town and wander the magical streets. Frequent one of the wonderful coffee houses. Hunt for Arts & Crafts or relax with a famous Zanzibari spice body scrub. Top pick is Mrembo Spa that trains people with disabilities and sells gorgeous natural products.
Sambusa Two Tables — a quirky Zanzibari institution. My friend Joanna describes it as: “a restaurant in some dude’s house where he serves plate after plate of delicious street food!”
Forodhani night market is a great place to enjoy the Indian ocean’s fresh treasures. Have a glass of sugarcane juice, while you pick and mix your squib, tuna and shellfish. (not for the faint-hearted though) Watch your dinner being smoked over open fire before eating it from a banana leaf.
Off the beaten path and not to miss — for longer stays
If I’d have more time I’d LOVE to go to Kilwa, which is a remote island with amazing old ruins. If you have the chance stay at Mwangaza Hideaway only boutique lodge in Kilwa.
What can I say… Bagamoyo still captures my heart. I’ve spent seven months in this beautiful sleepy beachside town and still visit often.
Stay, eat and drink at Firefly Lodge
Eat a chapati wrap at Poa Poa cafe (ask for extra peanut sauce)
Wander by the fish market on the beach and visit the art market (all in town, its small, so you won’t miss it)
More on Bagamoyo’s history and some more photos here in this post.