In 2014 I made my first appearance on the Swahili coast when I landed in Dar es Salaam aka “Dar”… I traveled with my husband and 9yr old son. I love to travel and have been to quite a few countries but this was our first international family trip. Minus the dog. We left him home because our pockets were too shallow to pay for his ticket (they still are but we’ve progressed). My husband is a Tanzania native so it was more of a homecoming for him. It was my first time in East Africa. Side note: The dog ticket prices were more than all of ours combined. I won’t give a journal of my entire trip because we were there for over a month. Instead I will touch on some of the highlights.
My Favorite Dar Experiences
Can not be minimized to 1 or 2. However, a few things that are not advertised well is exploring downtown Dar. In particular the Upanga region where they have this secret “red chicken”. This chicken is only served at night and this limitation only made me want it more. It is a local secret and I promise you will want to slap your mama’s mama after tasting it. Best chicken I’ve ever had in my life! Aside from the finger licking food the Nightlife is filled cool sea breezes, great live music and sexy rhythms.
Dar es Salaam has a unique vibe to offer every age group. Everyone loves a good beach dinner or beach party. One of the coolest waterside restaurants I attended was Capetown Fish market. It is a multi-level and on the shores of the bay. Definitely go at night because the outside of the building lights up in pretty blue lines that glare off of the water. The bar has a scrumptious and sophisticated rotating river of sushi. We went right at sunset so we got to see the best of both views. When we first arrived the water on the shoreline was receded back into the ocean but within the hour it had gushed it’s way under our tables on the pier. It was a very soothing and tranquil experience. The food was also superb. I ate the East Coast #Potjiekos, which was a seafood and vegetable stew. It’s a South African staple that was served in a cute little cast iron cauldron. We took several boats, and ferry rides.
My favorite was the trip on the Kigamboni ferry. It is such a cultural shock of coolness. We were able to drive our car onto the ferry, then we got out, walked around the ferry and took breath taking pics as we crossed over to go to Kipepeo ‘butterfly” beach. It is safe, and a great way to meet local people. Just keep up with your phone and be respectful of the culture. My sister-in-law lost her phone on the ferry and she was born and raised in Dar es Salaam #StayWoke. It’s a busy and large city so obviously you will need to take some precautions. If you have ever survived a trip to New York, D.C, or [any large city] then Dar es Salaam will be a tropical breath of fresh air. Aside from the phone mishap our experience was awesome. As our ferry was approaching the shore the sun was setting and this made the boat ride extra magical. Side note: The sunsets seemed to pass super fast. It’s like this all year long because they are on the equator. I love sky gazing so maybe it just seemed fast.
The summation of all of my experiences were cherish-able but the Safari was to die for (lol, bad joke). Tanzania is so huge and unlike any other country because they have huge national parks in every corner of the country. These are not small parks some are the same size as small states. Therefore you can go to any region and see all of the Big 5. This very different in West, Africa. When I first went to Ghana in 2004 I was expecting to drive through a safari like a city and see lions and giraffes. Ummm no. That’s not the culture or natural ecosystem there. It’s more of a zoo-style. In Tanzania, “Safari is culture”.
The average national park size in Tanzania 2,000mi² That is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island. Can you imagine exploring a National Park that is larger than a state? Well Tanzania has 16 for you choose from. We did not have time to travel to the Serengeti or any of the Northern circuit region. That area is extremely expensive because it is #1 tourist region for an African safari. Since we were already visiting an uncle in Morogoro we decided to experience a safari at Mikumi National Park which was on our route. It was cheap and super close. The drive from Dar es Salaam was only about 3 ½ hours West. It was a such lush and scenic view along the way. There were lots of lions, monkeys, hippo, giraffes, elephants, birds, crocodiles, and much more.
I was amazed to see the community walking down the highway and then less than a mile down the road you see a lion on the side of that same road. Everyone seemed to live in harmony. The animals at national parks do not have cages or physical borders. It’s land that is reserved for the animals to live in a natural habitat. A very humbling and refreshing experience. There were so many cool things we did while in Tanzania but I surprisingly took so much pleasure in doing nothing. We spend so must time hustling and bustling that we forget to enjoy life. It was refreshing to finally relax, spend a day being a #beachbum, and enjoying fresh vine ripened fruits and seafood. Overall the most memorable times involved delicious food and good conversation. Below are few experiences that I will update later with more details:
- Renting a small private hut & sleeping beachside
- Dinner table stories with family and friends
- Slurping goat soup and drinks at the bar
- Fresh nyama choma (grilled goat meat)
- In the kitchen learning to cook Swahili food