Dar es Salaam is a pulsating city both day and night. The area is full of surprises with its modern lifestyle mixed with old traditions. It is located in a quiet bay off the Indian Ocean coast and has grown in economic importance to become a prosperous centre of the entire East African region.
One thing that is immediately evident when you visit Dar is the many sights, sounds, people and colours – Dar Es Salaam definitely catches all your senses. Neighbourhoods change from rougher parts to fancy hotels and what I’ve witnessed is that the rich are very rich and the poor are very poor.
All in all Tanzanians are warm hearted and generous people who are eager to help and assist visitors where possible, they even like taking pictures with you as they believe you are a celebrity.
As in all countries, little common sense goes a long way and reasonable precautions should still be taken, such as locking valuables in the hotel safe, keep camera equipment to a minimum, jewellery will attract attention so keep that to a minimum as well and do not carry large amounts of cash on you.
A safari in Tanzania is a must, it allows you to have court side seats to witness the world’s most exciting animals whilst they roam freely in their natural habitat. You will also get to see the big five: lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos and leopard.
The Serengeti is located on the border between North Tanzania and South Kenya, and is renowned as the largest and most famous national park in the world. Home to the annual wildebeest migration, known to be the biggest wildlife spectacle on earth, helps to secure it as one of the seven wonders of Africa. Along with the big five you can also witness cheetahs, zebras, giraffes and lots more.
On my visit I was extremely lucky to see a live chase between a lioness and a lone gazelle, the strength of the lioness was absolutely unbelievable as she pounced on the gazelle and choked it to death.
She then took a few minutes to gather her breathe and proceeded around my safari vehicle holding her kill by the neck to her cubs. I will never forget the cry from the gazelle when the lioness got her first bite.
Like the Serengeti the Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest inactive, intact and unfilled volcanic caldera. The crater is surrounded by grassland and bushland, along with the Ngoitokitok Spring, near the eastern crater wall which creates a perfect picnic area for lions, elephants, hippopotamus, zebra, wildebeest and baboons.
I resided on one of the 600 meter high walls sounding the volcanic floor and the views were unparalleled, especially at dawn and dusk.
Another iconic landmark is Mount Kilimanjaro which dominates the skyline from the moment you land. Mount Kilimanjaro is the world’s largest free standing volcano which rules the northern Tanzanian skyline.
The volcano stands at over 19,000 ft looking across the otherwise flat savannah that surrounds it providing some of the most fertile grounds in the region, be sure to try the mouth-watering coffee, fruit and vegetables.
When you’re back in town also indulge yourself in the rich spices available, I was simply blown away by how tasteful and fresh the ingredients were. ‘Pilipili’ was my favourite word which basically meant “chillies”.
Zanzibar is a short cruise away and another great attraction zone. Although it’s not in Dar it’s worth the visit where you can relax on the white sandy beach overlooking the perfect blue sea.
Dar was a breath of fresh air for me; it has tradition, culture, it gave me exhilarating experiences and with Zanzibar so close I was able to relax and unwind.
This is the first holiday in quite a long time where I can say I wouldn’t mind living there for the rest of my life.
Written by Hiten Solanki