Life in Dar es Salaam during Christmas holiday

Tuesday December 19 2023

People walking along a street in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. PHOTO | DAR ES SALAAM CITY COUNCIL


Shopping, beautiful places to visit and entertainments would make this Christmas most celebrated in Dar es Salaam this time when food prices remain affordable, despite frequent rains now pouring on most areas of the Tanzanian coast.

Rising from a sleepy and a lazy fishing “Mzizima” or “Dormant village, Dar es Salaam is now a sprawling and fast growing city in Tanzania and East Africa, rising top among the beautiful and peaceful cities to live in Africa.

Dar es Salaam is now among African metropolis worth visiting by its vibrant life that attracts visitors to explore its various attractive sites and entertainment places with night life.

Read: City where Christmas never stops

Pegging on its sweet, pronounced name “Dar es Salaam” that was given by its founder Sultan Seyyid Majid, the former ruler of Zanzibar who chose the sleepy fishing village of local Zaramo residents to have his summer palace, the “Haven of Peace”.

For over 150 years since its making, Dar es Salaam remained the fast-growing city in East Africa, pulling people from other countries in Africa and outside this continent (Africa), then created a community of Dar es Salaam people living peacefully with vibrant lifestyles made up of a fusion of Arabic, Indian, German, British and African Swahili heritage.


A hotel's swimming pool located near a beach in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. PHOTO | DAR ES SALAAM CITY COUNCIL

For its residents and foreign citizens, Dar es Salaam is attractive to visit during weekends and end of year festivities. The city’s old architecture portrays multi-cultural heritages including Arabic, German, British and African lifestyles.

Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians co-exist peacefully with the wail of the Azan blending into the sound of church bells in mornings, calling for prayers to God.

Setting myself for Christmas celebrations, I spared two days to visit various, but most attractive sites in Dar es Salaam and which are worth visiting, shopping, eating out and children entertainment places.

Among the beautiful places to visit on Christmas is Mlimani City, a shopping area outside the city centre and which is best for shopping and children entertainments.

The Mlimani City is a well-known shopping mall in Dar es Salaam and largest of its kind in the city with one-stop shopping destination for shopping, entertainments, business and event halls and much more with ample parking facilities.

Read: East Africans celebrate Christmas without Covid restrictions

The Kids Fun Center is located inside the Mlimani Shopping Mall where sliding cars for children are installed, each hired for Tsh 6,000 ($ 2.4) for a specified time.

Mlimani City Shopping Mall is Tanzania’s first indoor air-conditioned mall with an area of 28,000 square meter. The mall coined its name from the area of its location, Mlimani.

Mlimani City mall is occupied with major shopping brands from around the world. The mall is more than a shopping center. It is a multi-business complex with a fully let office parks, comprising six double storeyed buildings.

Decorated with Christmas trees and banners displaying various goods for shopping including “Johnny Walker” whisky, Mlimani City is one among the best shopping areas during Christmas.

There is an open and spacious bar (Garden bar) for people looking to relax with their families, with hard and soft drinks with a live band entertainment.

Other places worth visiting in the city are the historical sites including the old buildings and the famous “Askari Monument”, a well-known historical statue of significance in Dar es Salaam, depicting a soldier with a bayonet pointing to the Dar es Salaam Port.

This monument is a reminder of the soldiers who fought for the British Army in the World War 1. The cast bronze Askari Monument is located exactly at the centre of Dar es Salaam City.

This monument commemorates the African troops who fought and died during the 1914-18 First World War. It is attractive to holiday spenders for taking quick photos.

Read: Inside the museum keeping Ethiopia's brutal past alive

The National Museum is the other, worth visiting. If you want to learn more about the history and culture of Tanzania or see some of the fossils that have been uncovered in this country, you will be interested in visiting the National Museum.

Mwenge Carving centre is the other attraction site to visit in Dar es Salaam. It is a business area that accommodate various sculptors of the Makonde carvings. It is located at the outskirts of Dar es Salaam City near Mlimani City shopping area.

The centre (Mwenge Carving) attracts Europeans, Americans and Japanese who are the leading and potential buyers of Makonde.

Carvings, said Sebastian Lyala, my guide at the carving centre.

Sebastian was excited to see me again, then expressed his great hopes to welcome more people, mostly foreign tourists who would buy his carvings he had carved himself.

Down to Kariakoo, the other famous shopping and visiting area, you can make your shopping of all items needed for holidays at home ranging from locally grown fresh foods including vegetables and cereals.

Shops for clothing, essential domestic goods and any other item needed during the holiday are cheaply available with different and throw-away prices.

Kariakoo Market is a place in Dar es Salaam City to shop. The market is the original place in Dar es Salaam where the first working-class made up of porters and casual labourers camped then stayed during the early days of the British colonial era.

It is now the biggest and busiest market in Dar es Salaam City attracting people from Tanzania and other neighbouring countries to carry out shopping spree there.

Read: A hop on, hop off Dar city tour on the ‘Mwendokasi’

Kariakoo Market remains the most attractive shopping and visiting area in Tanzania where people from different nationalities love to pay visiting on weekends.


Fruit sellers and buyers pictured at Kariakoo Market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. PHOTO | DAR ES SALAAM CITY COUNCIL

Spending hours at the market, I could observe mixed shops some with lots of fashionable clothes, exotic jeweler, perfumes and cosmetics, pulling big crowds of women shoppers.

Other shops like general stores were selling other, non-consumable goods including construction materials.

Most attractive as well are the different murals painted in different colours to depict and reflect the life of Africans in Dar es Salaam city those past days.

These attractive murals which portray a colourful image of the lifestyles of African or Tanzanian people in Dar es Salaam.

A popular thing to buy in Dar es Salaam are the colourful pieces of women wrap around cloth known as khangas. These brightly dyed rectangles of fabric are available in infinite colours, with infinite patterns and often include a message written in Kiswahili.

There is a huge distribution selection of 'khangas' at Uhuru Street in Mnazi Mmoja area in the city centre.

Read: Sombre Easter holidays at Dar es Salaam’s beaches

Mnazi Mmoja Park is the other attractive place I managed to visit. This Park (Mnazi Mmoja) and its Uhuru Torch monument offer a wonderful sight to people visiting Dar es Salaam City.

Built to celebrate independence of Tanzania in 1961, the Park provides recreation and event garden in Dar es Salaam City.

Among other, attractive places or sites in Dar es Salaam City are the National Museum where the history of Tanzania is stored in a form of writings and displays.

The skull of the Early Man (Australopithecus Boisei) that was discovered in 1959 at Olduvai Gorge in Northern Tanzania by the late Dr. Leakey is also seen inside the museum.

The Clock Tower along Samora Avenue is the other, unique attraction in Dar es Salaam City Centre. Built in 1961 to inaugurate the elevation of Dar es salaam municipality into a “City status”.

The Clock Tower is the  “Zero Point” or the starting point to measure overland distance from Dar es Salaam to other parts of Tanzania and Africa.Ikulu or the State House State House is the most attractive and wellpreserved building in Dar es Salaam today. It was was the originalresidence of the German Governor is the most attractive building among allbuildings in Dar es Salaam by its architectural design 

Built in the late 1897, the State House has been constructed with tall arches, a veranda with railing on the upper level.

Read: Wonder of Zanzibar's historic Stone Town

The State House gardens are also the most attractive, beautiful and green area in the whole of Dar es Salaam city. Colourful and attractive peacocks decorate the State House gardens, attracting both local and foreign visitors roving in Dar es Salaam.

St Joseph's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Azania Front Lutheran Church and the Greek Orthodox Church are prominent “Houses of God” for prayers, amid several mosques at the City Centre, all giving an eye-catching images of Dar es Salaam city.

Botanical Garden is the greenery area to spend a weekend in a serene environment amid indigenous trees and grass. The Garden offers a variety of natural trees and flowers. Coco-de-mer palm tree that is native to Seychelles is grown this garden.

We learn from the past records that the Botanical Garden is a product of the first Director of Agriculture during German occupation in Tanzania, Professor Stuhlmann. He planted the trees in 1893 for research work.

Among such other, historical buildings is the Ocean Road Hospital where Dr. Robert Koch from Germany discovered the malaria and tuberculosis viruses.

A quick visit took me to Kivukoni Fish Market near the State House at Kivukoni. It is the biggest fish selling market in Dar es Salaam with varieties of fresh fish from the Indian Ocean. 


Women selling fish pictured at the Kivukoni Fish Market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. PHOTO | DAR ES SALAAM CITY COUNCIL

Visitors could cross over to Kigamboni by a 10-minute ferry ride to visit the upcoming and most attractive South Beaches, now accommodating an array of high-class beach lodges and recreation centres.

Read: A round trip to Zanzibar, a paradise

Coco beach, also known as Oyster Bay, is a stretch of beach located on the Msasani Peninsula of Dar es Salaam and best for weekend retreats.

There is a plenty of street food snacks and sometimes live music. The open area is also a place where frequent concerts and parties take place.

Swimming is not really recommended at Coco Beach because of high tides but guided swimming with safety diving equipment could be organised through boat operators and owners of recreation business at the beach.

Other places worth visiting in Dar es Salaam including Mbudya Island, a great place to unwind and eat freshly caught Indian Ocean sea food.

Pugu Hills is a designated nature reserve located about 25 kilometres from the city centre of Dar es Salaam. Along with an opportunity to hike the trails, you can also choose to bird watch or visit the cave famous for colonies of bats.

Dar es Salaam has a lot to offer when it comes to entertainment and relaxation during Christmas and other holidays. Several entertainment areas are found for night revelers.

Nyama Choma (roast meat – often goat meat) is wildly popular in Dar es Salaam. Night clubs and open bars are all over, offering soft and hard drinks to Christmas revelers.