Dar es Salaam, meaning The Haven of Peace in Arabic, has one of the best deep natural harbours in the world. From a small Swahili town in the middle of the 19th century, Dar es Salaam has grown into a large metropolitan centre with a population of over 3,500,000 dwellers. The city population represents the over 120 tribes of Tanzania with their different cultural backgrounds coming together, alongside the oriental civilizations from the far and middle east, and the Europeans including early Portuguese visitors in the 16th Century, the Germans and later the British. All cultures at one time or another passed through Dar es Salaam. It is necessary to visit Dar es Salaam to understand the secret of letting different cultures live together in absolute harmony. Being the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam is also the main gateway to the nature reserves of southern Tanzania, which include the Selous Game Reserve and the National Parks of Mikumi, Ruaha and Udzungwa Mountains, Saadani and Kitulo. It also serves as a convenient connection for travel to the islands of Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba both by sea and air. A city tour of Dar es Salaam will take you to the National Museum, Nyerere Cultural Centre, the Village Museum, Mwenge Wood Carvings Market, and the Magogoni Fish Market, among other interesting spots.
Some 75 kilometres to the north of Dar es Salaam lies Bagamoyo, once the embarkation port for slaves from the hinterland, and later the first German colonial capital. It is a place of considerable significance to world history, both as an entry point for Arab and European missionaries, explorers, and traders in East and Central Africa, and in the history of the infamous slave trade. Fortunately Bagamoyo is now being considered for inclusion as one of the World Heritage sites, to conserve and protect the fascinating Gothic and Afro-Arabic architecture in this coastal settlement steeped in history. Tourist attractions include the Kaole ruins dating back to the 12th century thought to mark one of the earliest contacts of Islam with Africa; the Old Fort built in 1860 for holding slaves for shipment to Zanzibar; the first Roman Catholic Church in East Africa built around 1868 used as a base to run a camp of about 650 freed slaves; the German colonial administration headquarters, the Boma, in the first capital of German East Africa; the Mission Museum displaying history of Bagamoyo; and the Livingstone Memorial Church among others. Bagamoyo white sand beaches are considered some of the finest on the whole of the East African coast.
Located only 130 km north of Dar es salaam and directly to the west of Zanzibar Island, Saadani is the only coastal wildlife sanctuary in East Africa, which not only means relaxing on Indian Ocean beaches after each safari, but provides the opportunity to observe Africa’s big game and birdlife interacting with the sea. Gazetted a National Park in 2002, Saadani measuring about 1100 sq. km in size, has a diverse population of mammals and birds. Elephant, leopard, lion, buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, colobus monkey, hippo, crocodile and the rare Roosevelt sable can be seen here. Saadani offers a choice of a driving safari, nature walk, and boat safari on the Wami River.