Kigamboni: Escape from Dar’s hustle

Saturday May 18 2019

People walk along Kigamboni Bridge in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

People walk along Kigamboni Bridge in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The bridge, commissioned in 2016, has greatly reduced congestion at the ferry when going to Kigamboni. PHOTO | SALIM SHAO 

DOROTHY NDALU
By DOROTHY NDALU
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On weekends and public holidays, MV Magogoni and MV Kazi, the two ferries that serve Kigamboni peninsula, are often loaded with revellers headed to the beach.

The lure of the azure blue sea and waves lapping on white beaches are what makes Kigamboni, one of the four municipalities of Dar es Salaam, a must-visit destination.

Kigamboni shopping centre is conveniently located near the ferry terminal allowing travellers to browse and purchase items while waiting to board or after disembarking from the ferry. Hawkers peddle their wares as people throng for fresh octopus soup, chapati and sugarcane juice.

POPULAR GETAWAY

Private and public beaches dot the stretch from Kigamboni through Mji Mwema down to Gezaulole all the way to Kimbiji. The area has become a popular getaway for Dar es Salaam residents.

Viewed from the Magogoni side, Kigamboni looks like an extension of Dar es Salaam city.

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The calm, clean beaches offer ideal opportunities to swim, sunbathe, snorkel or even pitch tent and camp. And, one can take a short boat ride from Kigamboni to the neighbouring islands in the Indian Ocean.

If approaching Kigamboni via the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Airport from Kurasini, you can use the new connecting bridge. The bridge, commissioned in 2016, has greatly reduced congestion at the ferry.

Towering above the Kurasini Creek, it is 680 metres long with six lanes for vehicles and two for pedestrians and cyclists.

Yohana Juma, a motorist says that since the bridge was opened to traffic, his commute time has reduced by almost half, considering he used to take half an hour when using the ferry.

“Even at a fee of Tsh2,000 ($0.8) for a saloon car, it is worth it. We paid almost the same amount for the ferry service. One saves time crossing via the bridge,” he said.

DEVELOPMENT

On the Kigamboni side of the bridge however, many of the roads are still under construction and are potholed and are nearly impassable in some parts. The bridge is mostly used by tourists heading from the airport to Kigamboni beaches.

Dar es Salaam is a fast-growing urban centre. It has a population of more than four million people and projected to hit 10 million by the early 2030s.

Kigamboni has large tracts of virgin land and unpolluted beaches ready for private and public property development.

Until recently, it had some of the less frequented beaches of Dar es Salaam. The vast stretches of white sand beaches are ideal for early morning walks and jogs before the trademark humidity and high temperatures of Dar es Salaam take over. 

There are points of Kigamboni Beach where swimming is not possible due to permanent low tides, but such stretches present a different ecosystem of flourishing mangrove forests.

BEACH RESORTS

There are also several beach resorts on Kigamboni Beach. The entire stretch from the ferry area through Mji Mwema to Gezaulole and from Kimbiji to Buyuni is dotted with sandy white beaches, both private and public.

Mikadi, Sunrise, Bamba, Kipepeo, South Beach and Kimbiji beaches are open to the public.

There are several resorts and hotels along the beach. The South Beach around Mjimwema village has both public and private beach areas. Kipepeo Beach is only nine kilometres from the city centre. It is popular with Dar es Salaam residents wishing to escape the heat and the hustle and bustle of the city.

The water here is clear, a sign of little or no pollution on this part of the coastline. The beach is also free of rocks and sea urchins, making it safe for swimming.

From the shore, one can watch fishermen sail by in their dhows. One can also take a walk on the beach or a boat ride inside the mangrove offering a true bush-meets-beach getaway.