Located in the north of Tanzania, in the shadow of Mount Meru, Arusha is the safari capital of the country. Tourists usually overnight here before their safari around the Northern Circuit. Built by the Germans as a centre of colonial administration, Arusha is now one of the country’s most prosperous towns. The site for the United Nations Criminal Tribunal and the headquarters for the tripartite Commission for East African co-operation, Arusha is also the centre for the trading of Tanzanite, a rare gemstone only found in Tanzania. The National Natural History Museum, with its collection of antiquities demonstrating Tanzania’s natural heritage, is housed in an old German Fort in the centre of Arusha while the nearby Cultural Heritage centre and its adjacent, four storey Art Gallery are also well worth a visit.
Some 70 km north of Dar es Salaam, on the coast opposite Zanzibar, Bagamoyo was once one of the most important trading ports on the East African coast. The former capital of German East Africa, it is a centre for dhow building. Saadani National Park is 45 km to the north and the Kaole ruins five km to the south.
Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam, which means “Haven of Peace” in Swahili, boasts one of the world’s finest natural harbours but, while it has grown to become a prosperous centre of the East African region, it remains a place of fascination with many reminders of its colourful past. Dhows still ply its waters while dug-outs, piled with fish, bob by the harbour side. The city displays the many influences of its history. There is an Asian district with its speciality shops, restaurants and temples, while the German colonisation has left behind a Bavarian-style railway station, the Roman Catholic St. Joseph’s Cathedral and the Lutheran Azania Front Church. The Botanical Gardens and Gymkana Club are evidence of British occupation. Dar es Salaam’s 60,000 seater, multipurpose National Stadium has been built to both FIFA and Olympic standards at a cost of US$56 million.
Located in the heart of Tanzania, Dodoma is the nation’s official political capital and its seat of government. Smaller and less developed than the country’s commercial centre, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, is also the centre of Tanzania’s expanding wine industry.
Located in the Southern Highlands, Iringa overlooks the Ruaha River and is a popular stopover for visitors to both the Ruaha and Udzungwa Mountains National Parks. During their occupation, the German military built the town as a fortified defence against marauding tribal warriors. Iringa was also the site of several battles during the First and Second World wars, and Commonwealth war graves can be found just outside the town. The Isimila Stone Age Site lies about 15 km from the town and is easily accessible. This is one of the most interesting stone age sites in East Africa and, with its pillars of limestone left standing after years of erosion, is well worth a visit.
Kigoma, is located on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika. It is a particularly good base for chimpanzee safaris to both Gombe and Mahale Mountains National Parks while Ujiji, the village where Stanley met Livingstone, is nearby.
Near the Zambian border, Mbeya is a major agricultural centre. Coffee, tea, bananas and cocoa are all grown in the area. It is the main gateway to Kitulo National Park and the site of the Mbozi meteorite.
Nestled at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, Moshi is the coffee producing centre of the country and vast plantations blanket the area. Sugar plantations are also of central importance to the region’s economy but the main reason visitors come to Moshi is to climb Kilimanjaro.
Located on the south-eastern coast, near the border with Mozambique, Mtwara is a good base for exploring the Mnazi Bay Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park and nearby Mikandani.
Situated on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, in the north west of the country, Tanzania’s second city is the perfect base from which to visit nearby Rubondo National Park, Saanane Island and the Bujora Sukuma and Nyerere museums. It also offers easy access to the Serengeti being only a 2 ½ hour drive from the Western Grumeti. Other attractions include lake cruises, canoeing safaris and fishing for tilapia or giant nile perch. Mwanza is also known as Rock City because of the gigantic rock outcrops jutting out of the lake and strewn around the city. The most famous of these are the Bismarck Rocks, named after the German chancellor under whom this originally small town was established as the administration centre of German East Africa.
In the hinterland of western Tanzania, Tabora is a key transit point as the main railway line from Dar es Salaam branches here for both Kigoma and Mwanza.
The country’s second and most northerly port, Tanga is a natural gateway to the Amani Forest Nature Reserve, the Amboni Caves, Tongoni Ruins and both Mkomazi and Saadani National Parks.