Information & Facts
Dar es Salaam is situated on the equator and therefore
experiences a tropical climate with hot humid weather from December
through March, the hottest month being January when visitors should
arm themselves with sunblock. Dry and cool temperatures prevail
from June to September and the city experiences its highest
rainfall between April and May. The best time to visit Dar es
Salaam is from June to September, when the temperatures are milder
and the humidity is low.
Getting around in Dar es Salaam can be confusing for visitors.
Walking is a pleasant way to see the city, but pedestrians should
be mindful of aggressive drivers as the city has no sidewalks.
Minibus taxis (called daladala) and buses operate on a flat-fare
basis, but travellers should be aware that these do not operate on
regular schedules and are often dangerously overcrowded and are
popular with pickpockets.
Taxis can be hailed from outside most hotels in Dar es Salaam at
a fixed fare, but in most other places it is customary to negotiate
the fare in advance. Travellers wishing to hire a car should make
sure they have a valid international driver's license, which must
be endorsed by the police on arrival in the country. Travellers
opting to drive themselves outside of the city should look into
hiring a 4x4 or SUV and be aware that cattle and other pedestrians
tend to ignore the rules of the road.
Swahili and English are the official languages. Several
indigenous languages are also spoken.
The official unit of currency is the Tanzanian shilling (TZS),
divided into 100 cents. The tourism industry prices everything in
US Dollars and they are the preferred unit of currency. Major
currencies can be exchanged in the larger towns. Foreign exchange
bureaux in the main towns usually offer a better rate on travellers
cheques than do the banks. ATMs are available in major cities only.
Major lodges, some hotels and travel agents in urban areas accept
credit cards, but these should not be relied on and can incur a 10%
Shopping in Dar es Salaam is a bargain hunter's dream. Haggling
is the norm here and tourists can find themselves walking away with
some fantastic gifts and souvenirs to take home for a great price.
A must is the Kariakoo Market, which is a bustling and chaotic
tangle of stalls and people. Popular tourist buys in these markets
are kangas (or khangas), which are colourful, sarong-like pieces of
cloth with Swahili sayings printed on them. Another popular buy are
tinga-tingas (local Tanzanian paintings).
The Mwenge Carvers' Market is a great place to find handmade
crafts and carvings, and every other touristy souvenir. The Ilala
Market has a bemusing array of second-hand items along with a good
selection of locally-made jewellery. Local markets are fun and
fascinating, but also tend to be crowded and claustrophobic, and
rife with pickpockets. It is best not to carry large amounts of
cash or valuables.
One of the most popular buys in this exotic land is the highly
sought after, valuable and extremely beautiful blue Tanzanite.
Jewellery with this precious gemstone fetches a hefty price. Watch
out for fakes and buy only from reputable dealers. The rule of
thumb is the darker the stone, the more expensive it is.
With a vast and turbulent history, Dar es Salaam offers a
multitude of attractions for holidaymakers and other travellers to
enjoy while visiting this historic city. From the Dar es Salaam
Marine Reserve to the Pugu Hills Forest Reserve and Bongoyo Island,
the outdoors has a lot to offer in this picturesque city. Take a
trip to the Zoological Gardens and marvel at the plants and
animals, or spend a quiet afternoon at the Dar es Salaam Botanical
Gardens. For those with a bit more time, there are many museums
that offer a glimpse into this mysterious city's past and colonial
eras, such as the National Museum and the Village Museum.