Exploring Dar Es Salaam in a day, visiting the National Museum, Askari Monument, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and Azania Front Lutheran Church on the trip The Great Eastern Summer.
Dar Es Salaam, translated as “the harbor of peace” is the largest and most important city in Tanzania. Once the capital of the country, which is now moved to Dodoma, the city still holds most of the central government.
Not known for tourism, the city is still a good stopping point for travelers headed to nearby attractions.
Coming from Zanzibar on a Precision Air ATR 42 prop plane, we had an overnight stop here before traveling to Arusha. The flight was only 15 minutes.
Julius Nyerere International Airport was a bit of a mess with both domestic and international passengers lined up in one room to go through immigration.
Through the taxi window, we saw the stark contrast between the outskirts and center of the city. The center was developed and had fairly large skyscrapers.
We checked into our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, The Kilimanjaro, before heading out to see the sights.
Our first stop was the most famous museum in town. Started in 1934, this museum used to be dedicated to King George V but now is focused on the history of Tanzania.
We bought our tickets, put our bag up in a locker, and walked through the roundabout exhibit. The bones of the early humanoid Paranthropus boisei and some old cars, including one from the King, are on display.
In the auditorium there was a local dance competition of sorts, so we went in to watch. The room was crowded and the audience was clapping and dancing together to the DJs on stage. It was an interesting look into Tanzanian youth culture.
Leaving the museum we passed by a KFC and then a bank where we saw guards with rifles hanging around. Around the corner a man asked if we wanted a taxi so we organized a ride to the airport the next morning.
A few blocks away is the monument dedicated to the African troops of WWI. This bronze statue of a soldier (askari) has an inscription at the base by Rudyard Kipling.
Unfortunately it is in the middle of a busy street, so it wasn’t very pleasant to visit.
We continued back towards the water.
Azania Front Lutheran Church
Built in 1898 by German missionaries. The distinctive building with a red-tiled roof and white walls is an icon in the city.
St. Joseph’s Cathedral
This Gothic-style Roman Catholic church was built in 1897 – 1902 and is the seat of the city’s archdiocese.
From the church we walked back to the hotel. The streets didn’t feel that safe as we were the only tourists walking around and people eyed us suspiciously. Random people came up to us to peddle safari and Kilimanjaro tours.
The banks of the harbor were full of tents and shelters surrounded by a lawn of garbage. It was a depressing scene.
At the hotel we had dinner and relaxed in the lounge over a couple of beers.
Mount Kilimanjaro. We’re coming for you.