I finally compiled a list of some of my favorite (but accessible) things to do in Tanzania. This is more for people visiting the Dar es Salaam area rather than the Arusha area. I don’t think people realize how much there is to do on our side of the country. Without further adieu…
(Click on the picture or link to get a full description of each place.)
1. Mikumi National Park
My favorite thing to do in Tanzania is obviously safari. I remember watching the Discovery channel as a kid (back when they used to play animal stuff all day), never imagining I would visit such an amazing place. To be able to see lions, zebras, giraffes, and more in their natural habitat is something I’m so happy I got to do before I die. Mikumi National Park is only 4 or 5 hours from Dar. We took our own vehicle, but there are also safari companies located in Dar that will drive you out there and back for a day trip. Or you can turn it into a little getaway and stay a few days. We stayed at Tan Swiss Lodge and it was around $70/night. (You can read my review of that place here.) Another thing to do in the area is listed below!
2. Udzungwa Mountains National Park
Udzungwa Mountains National Park is located about an hour from Mikumi National Park. There are beautiful waterfalls, watering holes, and trails to hike. Click the picture above for more info.
I can write a whole nother post about what to do in Zanzibar (and I probably will), but I wanted to specifically talk about how easy it is to get to Zanzibar from mainland Tanzania. You can catch a ferry from Dar for a very reasonable price. You can make this a day trip as well, but it would be worth it to stay at least a few days. It is a place with a lot of history and, like I said, plenty to do.
4. Village Museum
The Village Museum is unlike any museum I have ever visited. It is entirely outdoors, and it consists of about 20 different huts, representing traditional housing from all the different ethnic groups that can be found in Tanzania. Their motto is “Where you can see Tanzania in one day.” What’s cool about this museum is that it was built by Tanzanians for Tanzanians. You can venture in to each one of these homes and find artifacts of different tools, furniture, and jewelry used by the respective groups.
5. Bongoyo Island
Bongoyo Island is a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Dar. It has a beautiful beach and a forest you can hike through. If you have your own boat you can get there in about 10 minutes. If not, you can pay 15,000 shillings (about $10) to ride a ferry over there that takes forever (about 40 minutes). Either way, it’s worth it. It’s probably the best beach to chill on “in” Dar.
6. Akemi – Tanzania’s Revolving Restaurant
Akemi is a revolving restaurant in Dar es Salaam. It’s quite fancy, perfect for a date night, and it has amazing views of the city. Go there for sunset, it’s one of the best places in Dar to catch it.
7. South Beach
South Beach is yet another beach that requires catching a ferry. It’s not an island, but it’s separated from Downtown Dar by water, and trying to go around the bay would just take longer with all the traffic. The good news is you can take your vehicle on this ferry. The beaches on South Beach are beautiful and uncrowded (completely empty when we went). There are some resorts to visit but you must book in advance!
8. Hike to the Sea Caves at Low Tide
If you’re up for an adventure, climb down the cliffs at the Sea Cliff Hotel during low tide. There are tons of little caves to explore where you can find cool animals, plants, and shells.
9. Go Fabric Shopping at Uhuru Street
Uhuru Street is the only place to buy the beautiful fabric found all around East Africa. It’s not literally the only place, but anywhere outside this area will charge you twice as much. Plus, your selection is endless at Uhuru Street, and all the fabrics hanging from the walls make it a vibrant gem in the middle of the city.
10. Visit a Local Market
The best place to find fresh fruits and veggies as well as catch a glimpse of day to day life in Dar is at one of the many local markets.