Tanzania is home to the crystal clear lake Tanganika, stunning vistas across tea plantations in the southern highlands and the out of the world geography of Lake Natron. While these spots and many others in Tanzania are not on the beaten path of the regular tourist jaunts, they are stunningly beautiful, relatively unvisited and can be a true escape from our overly committed lives.
Many Tanzanian journeys start in the often sweltering “Bongo”, the slang name of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam. Despite the hustle and chaos of the city of over 6 million people, women still wear very traditional local cloth -either kitenges or khangas. Kitenges are often very bright and are made into stylish skirts and tops while khangas always come with incorporated symbolic messages within the woven designs. Food in Dar is never more then 5 minutes away and is a focus on the streets not only visually but auditory as well. Each food vendors appears to have a different “call” on the street. Water boys yell Maji, Maji while making a kissing sound. Peanut vendors, who sell delicious roasted nuts in recycled paper cones (the paper will often have hand written homework on it, recycling to a whole new level), clink large coils of coins in their hands creating an underlying metal beat that follows me around wherever I go. Sister, sister ladies sell oranges and bananas piled high on the baskets on their heads, which will often hold my gaze in wonderment on how they can balance it all. In addition, the bicycle boys bike around huge baskets of mangoes, watermelons, pineapples, coconuts, apples or oranges. Dar is an ocean port and boasts an amazing fish market that has tons (literally) of seafood. You can smell the market before you can see it but the quality, choice and price of the seafood are unbeatable. The Indian influence in Dar is very evident creating a melting pot of cuisine. A few of Alice’s favorite places where her Wazis take her off the regular beaten path are Bhog 56, Karafu 305 and the becoming quickly famous, @chefkile (find him on instragram).
300 kilometers south of Dar are the enchanting ruins of Kilwa Kiswani. The light and space of the inlets in this archipelago of islands is breathtaking and you can see why the Sultan of Oman settled here in the 1400’s. The now ruined palaces are still stunning, with thick ficas tree roots embedded in the meter-thick walls. The lovely Mwangaza Hideaway is very affordable and offers fantastic day boat excursions to many spots around, including the stunning ‘swimming pool’ that is a hidden gem taking your breath away with its clear turquoise water. Stand up paddle boarding or kayaking in the magical evening light will make you want to stay forever.
Still further south is the lovely village of Mikindani which has a beautifully restored hotel, the Old Boma Hotel, which is well worth trip from Dar es Salaam on its own. You can visit the local artist Kilele’s studio, where his village scene paintings are both sweet and stunning at the same time or take a trip to the lovely marine preserve for a picnic on a deserted beach.
Possibly almost as far away as you can get while staying in Tanzania, Lake Natron offers vistas that have a moonscape quality. Lake Natron mineral-rich soda lake in northern Tanzania and is a breeding area for hundreds of thousands of lesser flamingos, despite the highly alkaline state of the striking red waters. It should be on every adventurer’s Tanzania travel list. Driving to Lake Natron is rather desolate but with a haunting, other worldly feeling about it.
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