Most tourists who visit Tanzania choose to finish a safari with a visit to Zanzibar with its old capital Stone Town and beautiful beaches. But Tanzania has 1,400 KM. of coastline and the coast of mainland Tanzania unlike that of neighboring Kenya is very underdeveloped. Although little visited by tourists, it is extremely beautiful and wild. We can not claim to have visited the whole coast and there remains much to be explored but we have traveled the coast extensively.
North of Dar es Salaam there are a series of uninteresting small beach resorts which give way to a series of small fishing villages, interspersed between white sandy beaches. The most interesting town on the coast is undoubtedly Bagamoyo, the coast’s foremost slave port and the departure point for many expeditions into the interior. It is set on a beautiful bay fringed by mangroves and its laid back village-like atmosphere today belies its sinister past. There are many interesting colonial buildings still standing and the town makes a very interesting visit. Stay at the wonderful Lazy Lagoon close to Bagamoyo and relax in paradise.
North of Bagamoyo is the Saadani Game Reserve, the only costal Park on the East Coast of Africa. Beyond is the town of Tanga which is now Tanzania’s second largest port. It is not a town of great interest
Just south of Dar es Salaam is a beautiful area of white sand beaches stretching for miles. The area around Ras Kutani is particularly beautiful and little known.
Beyond, for those who wish to visit the far South coast, access is determined by the state of the vast Rufiji river delta, the largest mangrove forest in East Africa. This is a wild area rich in bio-diversity but fairly inhospitable.
Few make it beyond the Rufiji to the southern coast of Tanzania but for the explorer who wishes to venture on, there are the three Kilwas to be discovered These three settlements, Kilwa Kivinje, Kilwa Masoko and Kilwa Kisiwani, are of great historic interest and atmosphere. Kilwa Kisiwani is of particular interest having once been the most important trading port of the whole East Coast of Africa. The Sultanate of Kilwa was founded in 975 by a Shirazi trader, its riches were founded on the gold trade from Zimbabwe, but its fortunes ebbed and flowed with successive invasions and conquests with this island town periodically returning to being a simple fishing village, as it is today, between short periods of riches and fortune.
Tanga, Tanzania’s third largest city and second largest port, is the principal town on the northern coast of Tanzania, a time-warped port which briefly served as the capital of German East Africa before Dar es Salaam usurped the role. Relaxed, friendly and atmospheric, it is a lovely character-filled town full of old German and Asian buildings.
Now one of the more modern ports along Tanzania’s coast, the city rose to prominence when settled by the Germans after the harbour at Bagamoyo proved to be too shallow for trade on any large scale. Tanga boasts the first school in German East Africa, built in 1893, and a railway to Moshi was started in the same year and completed in 1911. The rail link inland and the excellent natural harbour guaranteed Tanga’s survival to this day, when most business conducted is export of sisal.
Pangani Town lies about 50 kilometres south of Tanga and is a traditionally Swahili town lying at the mouth of the Pangani River. The town has a relaxed ambience, surrounded by virtually unspoilt beaches to both the north and south. Historically the town has played a notable role, owing to its position at the mouth of the river, which assumed a vital role as a transport route to the interior of the country. The town was a major export point for the notorious slave and ivory trades, and was one of the largest ports between Bagamoyo and Mombasa. Within the town itself, remnants of the German and Arabic influences can be seen in the architecture and carved doorways.
The beaches to the north and south of the town have only recently been opened up to visitors with the advent of a new road. This coastline is beautiful, consisting of long unbroken stretches of white sandy beaches backed by palm trees and light forest, in which the bird and wild life is well worth a look.
Dar Es Salaam
Known as the Haven of Peace in the Arabic tongue, Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s largest and liveliest city. Once upon a time this place was nothing more than a sleepy fishing village but thanks to a large influx of sultans and trade it has become a cultural mecca. The melting pot of Asian influence, African heritage and Muslim religion congeals within the city creating a wonderful atmosphere, amazing architecture and vibrant markets.
As soon as the sun gleams over the dusty rooftops the streets boom to life with street sellers calling out bargains from the fish market, locals walk by with sacks of rice on their head and the boats start moving across the beautiful harbor. Whether you are looking to soak up the sun on the beach, explore the busy markets or throw yourself head first into a whole new world – Dar es Salaam has something for everyone.