Volunteering in Dar es Salaam

I graduated this summer and decided to use three months of my gap year in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as a volunteer. As most of my time was used volunteering in a hospital in Dar I did not do too much exploring but I managed to do some, which I will give you the highlights of together with some helpful tips.

cape town fish market
sushi Cape town fish marked

As I was volunteering I lived with local families in the city, so I didn’t get to check out any of the hotels or such, but I would suggest that you look for places in these areas as they are nicer areas, so you don’t end up in a bad area – the areas are Masaki/Oyster bay which is the peninsula, which is very touristy. It is also here, where there are a lot of cafes and restaurants, where I went out for social dinners with the other volunteers. Some of the restaurants we often met at were:

  • Arizona Grill – where you could get two burgers for the price of one, around 10,000 tzs.
  • Waterfront – a bit more expensive but not overly, but the food is grand and you have a view over the bay.
  • Cape Town fish market – we would go there mostly for the sushi and drinks, which were half price if you ordered before 6 and was delicious! You could get drinks for around 6,000 tzs and sushi for around 15,000 tzs.
  • Shooters grill – it is the top of a building with a great view of the city and the food was great for the price and they also had happy hour, where you get two drinks when you buy one.
  • Oyster Bay shopping center – in the middle of the center there is a nice little outdoors cafe, where you can get great food and smooties to decent prices. Make sure you get to the right shopping center, there are two Oyster Bay centers, and it is the one without the cinema.

We also used time at Mbalamwezi beach club which is a bar/restaurant on the beach, but mostly we were there in the afternoon to enjoy the sun, as the food is fine nothing great and it takes forever to get the food – going to restaurants take patience as it can take hours before you get your food and as a group you often get it so spread that the first are done long before the last get their food – you learn to live with it. As to the beach part, the beach is nice but the water is not! Through my time there we found used diapers, braes and a lot of garbage, if you want to swim the best is go to a pool or one of the islands nearby. We went to Mbudya a couple of times – you have to go to White Sands, which is a hotel and from here you take a boat to Mbudya where the beach is beautiful and the water is gorgeous, only downside is that you have to pay. Another option is Kipepeo beach where you also can stay the night, you take the ferry from Posta across the bay where you then take a barjaj to Kipepeo Beach, where you then have to pay 5,000 tzs to get in if you’re not staying the night, but you can use your ticket to buy food or drinks in the bar for 5,000 tzs.

mbudya
Mbudya
Kipepeo beach
Kipepeo beach

I didn’t do much tourist stuff, so there is probably a lot more to see in Dar that I do not know of, but we used a lot of time at Mwenge marked, which is a African marked great for souvenirs, but we used the time there painting African paintings which we learnt there in one of the shops. If your looking for African souvenirs this is the place, the more known Kariakoo marked should be more everyday things for the locals, but still interesting to see – but leave your stuff at home or keep a good eye out on it!

There are a lot of different ways to get around in the city – motorcycle, taxi, busses/daladala and Barjarj, which is like the asian tuktuk. We used the Barjarj and buses the most – the buses are crowded and not the nicest but the cheapest as they cost max 600 tzs for a ride and also safe because of the many people. They drive nearly everywhere and the connections are good considering it is Africa. The barjaj take you where you want to go, you just tell where you want to go and remember never get in before you have settled on the price! The most I have given is 10,000 and that was from mlimani to white sands hotel which is quit long and in the evening the prices go up – but don’t take their first price, get it down or go to the next one.

waterfront
Waterfront

As for the taxi they are more expensive and not always the safest, get through you hotel or such and for the motorcycle, keep away! The roads are crazy and have seen one too many people in the hospital after a crash on a motorcycle, it was not pretty..

Lastly enjoy yourself but use your common sense, and here are some tips:

  • If you go to coco beach, be careful with you stuff, it’s known for its theft.
  • If you want to go clubbing, triniti is a good place.
  • When you go out after dark, leave the bag at home and keep everything on you.
  • If you’re white, people expect you have money even if you don’t.
  • Don’t go travelling with all your newest gear, you’ll look like someone with money.
  • Try the local food especially the chips mayai, its good!

/michelle

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