Travel Guide to East Coast & Dar

Best things to do and see in East Coast & Dar

East Coast & Dar: Why go

Although it means 'haven of peace' in Arabic, Tanzania's largest city and main transport hub is anything but tranquil these days. It's a vibrant place with an industrial belt, a bustling port and plenty of atmosphere. It was a German, then British and then Zanzibari possession in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and traces of all cultures remain: you can see one of King George V's cars in the Botanical Gardens, which were laid out by the Germans, or watch cricket at the Gymkhana Club off Ocean Road. Take a guided tour of the centre and you'll come across a Lutheran cathedral, a German hospital and the Stae House, where the German governor resided.

For an escape from the city, take a ferry across the river to the lazy beach bars of Kigamboni, or head 30km southwest to the verdant hill town of Kisarawe – near the Pugu Bat Caves, where thousands of creepy creatures swarm out between 6 and 7pm every evening. To the north of Dar is Makumbusho Village Museum, where you can see traditional dwellings and dancing; and the pretty town of Bagamoyo, once the mainland centre of spice trading with Zanzibar.

Further north again is Saadani, Tanzania's newest national park. It’s a unique wilderness - a mix of beach, bush and river, with a range of ecosystems. Hippos and crocodiles are prolific, as are pelicans and flamingos, and predators can be seen jousting in the bush. Elephants sometimes visit the beach, which stretches to the horizon in both directions, and turtles and dolphins are often spotted around the sand islands off shore.

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