Every Hotel in Tanzania Will Recommend a Visit to Bagamoyo

It’s a country with so much to offer to visitors that wherever your hotel in Tanzania is situated, at some point or other you’re sure to want to head out for a day or more up or down the coast or in various directions inland to see one the many attractions on the road less travelled. And if your hotel in Tanzania is in Dar es Salaam, there’s a spot on the coast about 50km to the north that is well worth a visit.

Bagamoyo is a town with a population of some 30 000 people which – as the staff of any tourist-orientated hotel in Tanzania should be able to tell you – used to be one of the most important places for exports and imports leaving and entering East Africa back in the late 19th century. Being the oldest town in the country, Bagamoyo was subject to a number of influences over the years as it was controlled first by Arab and Indian traders and then by the Germans who colonised it from the late 19th century until World War I when the British took over.

Sadly, Bagamoyo also served as one of the main ports used by slave traders until as recently as 1900. Thousands of Africans from the area as well as from the interior were captured, chained up and shipped to Zanzibar and beyond, never to return. Nowadays the port isn’t nearly as busy as it once was, with the ships rather heading for the better facilities offered in Dar es Salaam.

An hour by car is all it takes from the Southern Sun Dar es Salaam, say, to Bagamoyo’s various ruins, beautiful beach and interesting museum. Much of the architecture in the old town is Arabic, and if you don’t mind a bit more travelling you can visit the medieval Kaole ruins, a mosquedating back to the 13th century. As the tour guides at any top hotel in Tanzania will tell you, the museum in the centre of Bagamoyo with its big old Baobab tree out front is where you’ll get one of the best accounts of the slave route – and there’s also an exhibit about Dr Livingstone, one of Africa’s famous explorers.

And wherever your hotel in Tanzania is, be sure not to head back there until you’ve had a good look at the dhows – these sailboats that once served to transport slaves and ivory remain well used by the locals, with Bagamoyo still where most of the country’s dhows are made.

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