A sleepy little town on the Indian Ocean
Located right up on the northern coastline of Tanzania, Pangani is a quiet and interesting port that has largely escaped the developments seen elsewhere in Tanzania. Once a very important trading post for slaving in the 19th century, this Arabian and Swahili influence is still prevalent in the architecture and atmosphere. Similar to the lodges to the south of Dar es Salaam, the idyllic beaches around the town now offer a viable alternative to Zanzibar.
As you arrive into this small town, sitting on the mouth of the Pangani River, it is apparent that this is a town that has been forgotten, but was once powerful. Historically the town was at the epicentre of trade into and out of Tanzania in the 18 and 19 hundreds and has featured heavily in the journals of such explorers as Burton. The name itself, some would argue, comes from the Swahili word for “arrange”, alluding to the gathering and arranging of slaves that would have happened here before being put onto boats and shipped out.
The location of the town is relatively new with official reports stating that it was founded by Arab merchants on the north bank of the river in the late 17th century. What remains today, however, is well worth a look and, with resorts such as the Tides only an hour or so away, it makes a good day trip to come into town and wander around, taking in the Swahili ambience.
The one other huge draw to this area of the country is the beaches that stretch both north and south from the town. These are, undeniably beautiful and, even with a modest amount of tourism in recent years; they remain one of Tanzania’s best-kept secrets.
At a glance... Pangani
- 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