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In addition to a wealth of stunning natural attractions, Tanzania has towns and cities that made vibrant and fascinating stops, with plenty to see and do. Tanzania’s past as a major trading route comes to life in these cities with many of Tanzania’s coastal cities being founded as port towns from which valuable goods were exported by dhows. On the Mainland, many inland towns were important rest stops for trade caravans on their way to Central Africa or Lake Victoria (NYANZA) and returning back to the East African Coast. In the northern highlands, a number of small towns were founded by the Germans as centers of colonial administration and agriculture. Today, Tanzania’s Towns and Cities still specialize in trade and agriculture and are the centers of economic activity in their regions. Besides their obvious importance in the local economy, the towns and cities of Tanzania have many historical and cultural sites
TANZANIA’S TOWNS & CITIES AT A GLANCE
The numerous towns and cities that spread around Tanzania offer a faintly different view from that of the traditional safari itinerary. Whether you are arriving by plane, by vehicle or by foot, Tanzanians are always welcoming and effervescent. Dar es Salaam is the main city that most visitors will encounter and the arrival point for most visitors off their international flight. Dar is also the nearest location to the safari circuits in the south of the country, as well as being next door to Zanzibar. In the North of Tanzania, the far more rural town of Arusha is the starting point for most safaris to the North of the country. Tanzania is a country which has an astonishing history and an abundance of natural wonders. There are many historical and cultural sites of interest to visitors, especially in the coastal cities and towns. Instead of continuing to concentrate on wildlife – nature based tourism, tourists coming to visit Tanzania, are advised to broaden and diversify their other interested tourism attractions. Try and test Tanzania’s towns and cities.
DAR ES SALAAM
Dar es Salaam means haven of peace. The name was bestowed on the city during the time of Sultan Seyyid Majid, who chose the sleeping fishing village of Zaramo to have his summer palace, Bandur ul Salaam, the palace of peace. The village thrived and grew under the Sultan’s presence, becoming the centre of trade for ivory and slaves and transforming over time into the bustling city of Dar es Salaam. The city is a hotchpotch of cultural influences. Arab, Indian, German and British influences can be found in the city’s architecture. Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians co – exist peacefully, with the wail of the azan blending into the sound of church bells in the mornings. Down at Kariakoo, Chinese electronics jostle with the chickens in the market, cheerful Tingatinga paintings are stacked next to folded piles of khangas and kitenges, traditional medicines sit alongside neat pyramids of fruit and vegetables as shopkeepers hawk their wares. Visitors to Dar es Salaam are well catered for, with a choice of accommodation for all budgets, from backpacker hostels to five star hotels. For the business traveler, there are a number of hotels boasting world – class conference facilities. There is a mind boggling range of restaurants offering Thai, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Ethiopian cuisine and more.
Of course, you can also find local restaurants serving chips, ugali and nyama choma, freshly grilled meat. Dar has an electric live music. Traditional taarab orchestras rub shoulders with dance bands playing jazz, salsa and afro funk. Rap, hip-hop and bongo flavor artists collaborate and perform around the city. Tanzania’s best and most inventive musicians are showcased in May at the B- connected Festival in Mnazi Mmoja Grounds. For film lovers, November sees Dar host the annual Euro African Film Festival. The city is home to the internationally renowned East African Art Biennale, which exhibits work by contemporary artists, sculptors, photographers, and cartoonists from all over Africa and beyond. The East African Art Biennale is held in December. The Nyumba ya Sanaa (Nyerere Cultural Centre) exhibits arts and handcrafts throughout the year and gives visitors the chance to take part in workshops on painting, batik and catching. The National museum and Botanical Gardens are also another diverting way to spend a day, tracing the history of Tanzania, from prehistoric fossils through to the relics of colonialism. Beyond the museums, music and art found in the city centre, Dar has its own selection of spectacular beaches at Kunduchi, Mikadi, Mji Mwema and Jangwani. At Jangwani, there is snorkeling and diving on offer, with the chance to see tuna, kingfish and even white tipped reef sharks. Kunduchi is home to Kunduchi wet “n” wild, East Africa’s largest waterpark, with go – karting, quad – biking, water skiing and slides, it is ideal for a day out with the family. Scratch beyond the surface in Dar es Salaam and you will find it is a city rich in diversity and filled with character.
Arusha is the safari capital of the world but it is often unfairly overlooked in favour of its more glamorous, better known neighbours – Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater. But Arusha has a wealth of experiences to offer tourists from safaris in Arusha National Park, to breathtaking hiking on Mount Meru, cultural tours, Tanzanite and more. Arusha National Park rolls out like a patch work quilt of contrasting landscapes, verdant forest where black – and – white colobus Monkeys chatter and play, savannah and moorland, the Momella Lakes with acid pink flamingos, Wallowing hippos, delicate herons, and shaggy waterbuck. Giraffe, elephant, and zebra roam the green foothills. Eagles and buzzards soar above Ngurdoto Crater, buffalo and antelope wander through the forest fringed rim. Bushbuck pick their way through the ancient cedar trees, volcanic cones lead the way up towards Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro stands proud and majestic on the horizon. Mount Meru is Africa’s fifth highest peak, a dormant volcano, once worshipped as a rain god by the Arusha and Meru people. The mountain provides challenging climbing and breathtaking scenery as an affordable alternative to Kilimanjaro. The Town of Arusha grew up from a German settlement on the Boma road, built by Maasai labor. Plantations of sisal, tea and coffee thrived and the city flourished.
Known as the Geneva of Africa, Arusha is home to the International Human Rights Tribunal and several NGOs. The Kilimanjaro airport provides local and International transport links, making Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and remote safari camps only a plane ride away. Agriculture and tourism are the two main components of Arusha’s economy and the two meet in cultural tourism. There are Tours of the coffee plantations. Tanzanian cookery courses, workshops in drum making and batik, giving you as a tourist, an insight into local life. Arusha is also home to the Maasai people. With their red shukas, bearded jewellery, spears and nomadic warrior traditions, the Maasai have become one of Africa’s most iconic tribal groups, with an aura of mystery about them. Maasai communities open up their villages to tourists, with guided tour lasting from anything from half a day to three days. You can walk through the forests gathering plants with a traditional healer, make cheese and ugali with the women, learn traditional songs and observe their pastoral lifestyle. If you need to do souvenir shopping, Arusha is a noted crafts centre. The cultural heritage centre in Town boasts an array of superb Makonde Carvings, Tingatinga paintings, gifts and curios. If you are looking for a more exclusive gift, Arusha is the best place to buy Tanzanite, a brilliant blue gemstone found in the hills surrounding Manyara region. The gemstone is used by the Maasai to celebrate birth and gained International prominence after a Tanzanite was featured in the movie Titanic as a centre jewel to the heart of the ocean necklace.
There is relaxed atmosphere to Arusha in the evenings, with a good choice of restaurants offering Swahili, Indian and international cuisine. There is live music in the evenings, with everything from jazz and salsa, to local hip-hop, traditional music and full moon parties in the bush. So, if you are heading out on safari, or returning from days of game driving, Arusha is well worth a visit.
ARUSHA REGION AT A GLANCE
Arusha is a medium sized town which is the hub of all safari destinations. It is located near the foot of Mt Meru and enjoys temperate climate throughout the year. Arusha is Tanzania’s gateway to the northern circuit of national parks and the starting point to many memorable safaris. It is a sprawling city that offers nice breaks from the rigorous of life on the African road. It has excellent places to stay and eat. What makes Arusha special is the clock tower that was supposedly built in its specific location because it is the central point between Cairo and Cape Town. Arusha is one of the few regions in Tanzania where the beautiful rare, midnight blue gemstone, Tanzanite was discovered. As the name suggests, this stone can only be found in Tanzania and one of the largest mine deposits lies in. there are many interesting and picturesque excursion and tours you can take while you are staying in Arusha.