A slumbering giant that was once the beating heart of the country
The coastal port of Bagamoyo, situated some 70kms to the north of Dar es Salaam, was one of the first landing points for the Arabian slavers and is a town steeped in history and decline. Once the centre for all of the trade routes that ran from Zanzibar into Lake Tanganyika, mentions of the port were numerous. Today, however, Bagamoyo is the last stop on the road that runs out of Dar and is really more of an interesting footnote that a major player.
This being said there is still much to draw people here with stunning beaches, great service and some truly great little lodges. Bagamoyo itself is certainly worth a few hours to explore and learn about this fascinating town and to realise the important role that it has played in the history of Tanzania.
Originally rising to power as the nearest port to Zanzibar, Bagamoyo figured prominently in the 18th and 19th centuries as the main thoroughfare for slaving and those wishing to travel into the African interior. In its heyday it was thought to process in the region of 50,000 slaves per year and it has had mention in all the journals of the main explorers and missionaries of the day such as Livingstone, Speke, Stanley and Burton amongst others.
With the advent of the abolition off the slave trade by the Sultan of Zanzibar in the late 1800s its fortunes waned. Deemed as too shallow by the Germans, the once flourishing town went into a serious decline from which it has never recovered. Today it is little more than a sleepy fishing port and it survives through subsistence fishing and the meagre revenues it can scrape from tourism.
This is not to say, however, that a trip here is not warranted, for those that are interested in culture and the Omani empire, to wander through the back streets and to visit the ruins of the nearby Kaole is to get a rare look at African heritage.
At a glance... Bagamoyo
- Size 5,700 square miles
- Location Northern Tanzania, NW of Arusha
- Recommended time 3 to 6 nights
- Time to visit Year round
- Safari Activities Walking, driving, ballooning
- Topography open grassland/Acacia scrubland
- Main species Wildebeest, gazelle, zebra, big 5, cheetah, hyena, giraffe