We’ve just finished five – yes, five – glorious weeks on the island of Zanzibar.
As much as Zanzibar is an awesome place to visit, the time has come to experience more of mainland Africa for us, and so without doing too much research, we decided that the easiest thing to do was to take the ferry to Dar Es Salaam.
I felt however, we needed a bit of integration time from coming back from an African island paradise and then entering one of the fastest growing cities in the world. I didn’t know if we would experience a bit of a shock, and so I decided to ‘wean us in slowly’.
Looking back, I’m really glad I did!
We don’t travel lightly! In fact, we are shocking, but I remember another long-term traveling Mum talking about the fact she didn’t pack lightly either, because, after a while, you need your ‘creature comforts’.
So with two large suitcases needing to be maneuvered down laneways filled with dirt and gravel, it was best that we arranged a small wooden cart to push our things from Zanzibar Coffee House to the ferry terminal. At a cost of 10,000 Tsh, this was a better option than replacing suitcase wheels that filled with grit and grime over the bumpy lanes on our arrival.
We went through the ports Immigration area and had our passports and visas checked (which I couldn’t understand because we weren’t leaving the country) and then had our bags tagged.
There was great organization getting the passengers to the ferry ‘row-by-row’, but as we went to embark, one of the staff tried to enforce us to leave our computer bags in with public baggage. Explorason was adamant “no way”. So we snuck in on another gangway – problem solved!
Ferry Arrival and Transfer
The ferry was the ‘Kilimanjaro-5’ and a fine vessel. And yes, there are restrooms too!
When we arrived at Dar Es Salaam thankfully we had arranged a transfer to the Ramada Resort, as we hadn’t organized a hire car this time.
This cheery chap that met us was great! He drove through the government area of the city and we were really surprised.
This part of the city didn’t appear to be a dusty African city at all!
Arriving at the Ramada Resort Dar Es Salaam
I think the chauffeured journey from the ferry was about 45 minutes, but as it was Sunday so there was virtually no traffic.
Explorason was hungry, and the lovely staff assisted him with a sandwich and juice which I thought was great.
I liked the decor of the lobby seating area. I’m always on the lookout for great home decorating ideas – I think maybe because we are nomadic and we long for a home.
Our Home For The Next 3 Nights
So we head upstairs in the elevator, past some really cool African paintings. And ‘tad-dar’, we finally are in our room. Our luggage arrived soon afterward, and we laughed as he explained there was a ‘traffic jam’ in the elevators.
We enter and instantly love the fact the room opens out to the sea!
Balcony And View
I look out on a sunny Sunday afternoon from my balcony. Gazing over manicured lawns and pristine clean sand onto the shoreline of the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
The view is not something anyone would expect in Dar Es Salaam. Once known as ‘the dusty city’, Dar Es Salaam is one of the ‘Top Ten’ fasted growing cities in the world and one of the few African cities that lies on the Indian Ocean.
I enjoyed the sea view balcony most mornings (where I could use the coffee and tea making facilities provided in the room to make my own coffee. There is also a mini-bar fridge where complimentary bottles of drinking water are kept cool.)
The balcony was a great place to enjoy early morning sunrises and one morning the sky was a pretty pink.
Usually, my habit from Zanzibar has been to enjoy my coffee and then go for a beach walk, so I was glad I could do that here too.
We adore Africa. I mean I’m seriously addicted to this continent, and so when it comes to interior design, everything captures my attention. I used to own a homewares store – I just love interesting use of design, but Explorason does too!
Our room has a ‘modern Africa feel’ to it – a little like a smart corporate city hotel – fresh, crisp and clean, but there is this groovy painting over the bed head that I think is pretty awesome.
We seem to ‘chill-out’ at the Ramada Resort. We weren’t really ready to hit the streets of Dar Es Salaam when we arrived. Even though we were less than an hour out of the city center, we found peace and tranquillity with sun, sand, and sea right before us. A virtually untapped tourism market awaits those who stay here.
There are two islands within view that I personally saw. Both islands are easily accessible right opposite us for snorkeling and day trips, or should you want to try your hand at fishing, a boat trip can be organized for that too.
This area is fast becoming the latest touristic destination of Tanzania, where guests can enjoy a few days prior or post visiting Zanzibar island (like we did) or venturing out on safari.
Friendly Locals And Beach Walks
I head down to the sandy shoreline on this Sunday afternoon with my camera and the locals all greet me with incredible friendliness – that I did not expect!
“Good afternoon, my mother”
“Greetings to you Madam”
“Will you take our photo”
“Can I have my photograph with you” …
… and much more, as locals cheerfully talk to me and practice their English. Most are the youth of the area here for an afternoon swim or a game of beach football.
Personally, I found on Zanzibar that whilst it was a great time, many of the local villagers were not so friendly towards us, so this is a welcome change.
On Zanzibar, I also found that some (not all) of the beaches full of touts and beach boys that would ‘hound, and haggle’ as soon as our feet hit the grains of sand. Often there were so many sellers badgering me that it ruined my morning or afternoon walk, so it is refreshing that this is not the case here.
So here I felt quite safe on this Sunday afternoon, and I came back thinking I’d love Dar Es Salaam.
Swimming Pool and Beach
I confess, for once I never swam in the pool! I had a load of travel plans to make and as we had great internet in the room, the most I did was to take photos of the pool.
As this lovely swimming pool is adjacent to a private beach, which is lined with sun beds, and the Kids Club staff were there for the little ones in the water play area, this is a popular weekend destination for city folk, who want to enjoy the upmarket comforts of the resort for a day or two. I was happy for once just to watch them.
I noticed this is also the only beach in the immediate area where they would rake up the seaweed and rubbish daily, and regularly bring in fresh sand, so it is white and clear. Sandbags are used to make an artificial ocean pool so swimming is safe at high tide in this Jangwani Beach area too.
Dining – Inside or Outside
Sadly we are in Tanzania at the start of the rainy season, but this is all part of a life of travel. It is impossible to get perfect weather every day – one must embrace what is presented to us, and adapt accordingly.
After a walk around the local area to a nearby handicrafts store we returned and ate lunch outside one day, but as we are it bucketed down, we ventured inside on the second day. Not to worry, the rainy season is only a few weeks of the year!
When we travel we found we really miss favorite foods, and for Explorason, one of them is Indian Curry. Butter Naan was Explorason’s favorite along with Butter Chicken and the curry choice here at Ramada Resort was top-notch! One evening I asked if the chef could prepare me a Vegetarian curry, and he did so. It was perfect. As Explorason would say, “that’s one killer curry”.
The Ramada Resort here at Dar Es Salaam make their own bread and pasta on the premises, and the food was really fresh and healthy so the buffet on another evening was great for that.
I believe an exciting new restaurant is opening soon with world class standards so if you book here, you might be lucky enough to experience the lobster (I heard) that will be served – yum!
Maybe we will just have to return again to experience this?
Yay – Breakfast here was a highlight. Fresh juices and healthy choices catering to many nationalities. Whether we decided on a dish made to order, or fresh pancakes, or something from one of the buffet stations, I seemed to always eat too much at breakfast.
And – the hours are brilliant – Breakfast is served for quite a few hours, so the folks enjoying their vacation can relax with a sleep in and head downstairs mid-morning with no worry that they would miss the first meal of the day.
We now head off into the hectic city itself now to look around (as I want to take some photographs in the famous Dar Es Salaam market area).
After all, there are plenty of things to do in Dar Es Salaam.
Staying out of the city at the Ramada Resort has been a great start to get a feel for Dar Es Salaam without the hectic pace of city life.
It will be interesting to return here to this area in five years and see the growth of the city and indeed this immediate shoreline. I’m guessing that the temptation for more travelers will be to stay here as a stop between Zanzibar and their safari vacation times.
Website: Ramada Resort Dar Es Salaam
Address: 170 – 171 Africana, Jangwani Beach, Dar Es Salaam 0000, Tanzania
Ph: +255 22 216 2333