48 hours in Dar: Stunning views and rich history from the fishing village with many regional firstsWednesday April 26 2023
The journey to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is never for the faint-hearted should you opt to go by road. But it is adventurous.
There are various bus options. If staying in Mombasa or can get there, boarding a bus and crossing via the Lunga Lunga/Horo Horo border would be the fastest way to Dar.
Board the bus at 7:30 am and in less than two hours, you will be at the border and from there, it will take 12 to 14 hours to Dar.
You can also use the longer Arusha route which I opted for. I joined a travel firm that was taking people to Dar. It took us 24 hours.
In retrospect, I would advise that you split the journey into two or three bits. Explore Arusha and then move on to Moshi, Same or Tanga.
During our journey, we had two days to stay in Dar and this is how we spent that time.
We began a bus tour of the city. The city’s skyline is getting crowded. Once a fishing village, skyscrapers are now competing to rise above the rest.
The Dar es Salaam bus rapid transit is gradually transforming urban transportation with designated lanes as well as high-capacity buses that call at stations after every few minutes.
Having a knowledgeable tour guide will help you understand the history and culture better.
We passed through Kivukoni Fish Market which stocks all types of fish. We stopped to watch fishermen unload their wares along the docks as ferries head to Zanzibar. Here the air is fishy.
Afterwards, we visited St Joseph’s Cathedral, a gothic-style Roman Catholic church that was built by German missionaries between 1897 and 1902.
It’s an iconic landmark with magnificent architecture and also acts as the seat of the Dar es Salaam archdiocese.
Not a far distance away, there is also the stunning Azania Lutheran church which has a rich history.
Another striking feature in Dar es Salaam was the Askari Monument, a memorial to the African soldiers who fought in the British campaign in the German Army in East Africa during the First World War.
Situated on Samora Avenue, the monument also marks the exact centre of downtown Dar es Salaam.
We passed the iconic 680-metre-long Nyerere Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in East Africa, heading to the beach.
It was time to relax. We headed to the beach and basked under the sun.
We visited the Kariakor market, Dar es Salaam's biggest and busiest market. It occupies several city blocks and the former barracks of the British Carrier Corp and one can find practically anything there morning, noon, and night. Watch out for pickpockets.
We spent the night at Butterfly Hotel, nothing so fancy, the focus was to tour the city and not spend too much time in the hotel.
Being a history lover, I headed to the National Museum and House of Culture, a great place to be if you want to learn about Tanzania’s past.
It was originally opened in 1940 as a memorial to King George V. It has displays of significant fossils of some of the earliest human ancestors unearthed during the Leakey digs at Olduvai Gorge.
There is also a room dedicated to Tanzania's tribal heritage and the impact of the slave trade and colonial periods.
There are ethnographic displays of traditional crafts, musical instruments, customs, and ornaments. I loved the section which had a collection of vintage cars, including the Rolls Royce used by former president, Julius Nyerere.
It was time to head to the Village Museum, which showcases a wide range of traditional Tanzanian huts belonging to different tribes.
Here, people learn about rural Tanzanian life. Established in 1996, the museum is interactive and I love the fact that one can enter the huts, take photos, and engage in the dance and music performances.
The best thing is that guests can take a self-guided tour as each hut has interpretative signs with details on how the houses were built and the materials used.
It was time to head to Kunduchi Beach at the Wellworth Kunduchi Wet 'N' Wild Water Park, one of the largest water parks in East and Central Africa.
The park has 38 slides, nine swimming pools, a rain dance platform, a designated children’s pool as well as activity areas.
It also has several dining options like the pool bar with its own grill kitchen. One thing that you must note is that the park accepts only card transactions.
We headed back to the hotel after the thrilling moment at the park, exhausted, and ready to start another 24-hour journey back home the following morning.