By Air — Situated 12km (7 1/2 miles) southwest of Dar es Salaam, Julius Nyerere International Airport (tel. 022/284-4212, -4371, -4372, or -4224; www.jnia.aero) is served by flights from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and all across Africa. Upon arrival at Terminal 2 (used for most international and domestic flights), you will first pass through an unsophisticated health screening point where you’ll fill in a form relating to the H1N1 virus; if you’re arriving from Kenya, you’ll be required to produce your yellow fever vaccination certificate (have this ready).
If you haven’t arranged your entry visa in advance, you must fill in a form and hand this in, together with your passport and $50. Visa processing time is usually quite speedy, but it does help if you can arrive ahead of everyone else on your plane, so don’t dally. Once you have your visa, it’s a swift march through baggage claim and into the arrivals hall. A taxi into the city from the airport costs Tsh25,000; if you’re going to the expensive hotels in town, you’ll be charged $25, while a trip to any of the hotels on the Msasani Peninsula is $35. A taxi directly to Bagamoyo will cost $120.
If you can’t be bothered putting up with the slightly seedy attitude of the drivers who congregate around the airport arrivals doors, a number of transport companies will do the same transfer for more or less the same price — simply arrange this in advance, and a driver will be waiting for you at the arrivals terminal. If you have the good fortune to be staying at the Oyster Bay Hotel, your transfer will be waiting with a nameboard in hand and drinks in the car.
Julius Nyerere - Dar-es-saalaam International Airport
There are several ATMs that accept Visa credit cards on the concourse outside the terminal; remember that one U.S. dollar is the equivalent of around 1,300 Tanzanian shillings (Tsh), so don’t be afraid to withdraw 100,000 or even half a million shillings for incidental expenses. Remember that when you pay in foreign currency, you’ll inevitably be given a poor rate of exchange, so it’s useful to have some local cash in hand. Terminal 1, which serves as the main base for charter flights, is located some .8km (1/2 mile) from Terminal 2.
If you wish to book your internal flights without the aid of an agency or tour operator, Coastal Aviation (tel. 022/284-3033 or -3170; www.coastal.cc) is the first choice, with a wide range of scheduled services to prime safari and beach destinations (including Zanzibar and Pemba and Mafia islands) within Tanzania, and also offers private charters. Note that some of their flights operate only if there are sufficient passengers to cover costs. Coastal Aviation has offices at J. K. Nyerere International (Terminal 1), at The Slipway, and in the city center. Indigo Aviation (www.indigoair.co.tz) is a new airline servicing Dar, Zanzibar, Selous Game Reserve, and Mafia Island.
Dar-es-salaam city Lay Out
As with many coastal cities, Dar isn’t planned so much as fanned out around its port. Most points of interest in the city — a beak-shaped spit of land that hooks around to form a natural harbor — are within easy striking distance of the Kivukoni Front, a waterfront boulevard that culminates in the ferry launch for boats to South Beach and the nearby fish market, both key sites in a town that owes its existence to its people’s relationship with the sea.
Kivukoni itself is where many of Dar’s colonial-era buildings — now mostly government and administrative offices — as well as the National Museum and Botanical Gardens, are located. West of here, moving inland, sprawls the city center, a bustling muddle of congestion incorporating all kinds of exotic styles, sights, and smells that may entice more adventurous travelers. Deep into this colorful stew is where you’ll find Kariakoo Market — at the heart of the lively, down-home Kariakoo neighborhood — where locals go to buy just about anything.
Running in a roughly northwesterly direction from the Kivukoni ferry launch is Ocean Drive, a broad boulevard that follows the coastline (and a wide swath of beach) toward the Msasani Peninsula. Msasani, heavily concentrated with foreign embassies, expatriates, and white Tanzanians, is Dar’s most prestigious finger of real estate. Although it’s located just a few kilometers north of the city center, it feels like a destination in its own right, closer in spirit to the beaches of Dar’s north coast (such as Kawe, Jangwazi, and Kunduchi, which have been developed with a string of resorts) than the downtown business district; Msasani, with its members-only Yacht Club and expansive high-security mansions, represents the other end of Dar’s social spectrum, where the best shopping centers are found and where the small, excellent Oyster Bay Hotel and some wonderful restaurants serve as social magnets for the privileged classes.
Back in the city, ferries regularly make the 5- to 10-minute crossing from Kivukoni to Kigamboni at the southern end of the harbor into which the Kurusini Creek flows. From Kigamboni, the road (the first part of which is sealed) stretches south, leading to vast tracts of virgin beaches — locals refer to this as South Beach, although the luxury retreats of Ras Kutani and Amani Beach are nearly an hour’s car drive away (or a 10-min. hop in a light aircraft).