Dar es Salaam (Haven of Peace in Arabic) was founded in 1862 by Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar on the site of the village of Mzizima. Mzizima’s history dates back to when the Barawa people started to settle and cultivate the area around Mbwa Maji, Magogoni, Mjimwema, Gezaulole, and Kibonde Maji Mbagara.
Dar es Salaam’s origins have been influenced by a myriad of Sultans, the Germans, and the British. The city started as a fishing village in the mid-19th century, is now Tanzania’s largest city, and has become one of East Africa’s most important ports and trading centres.
With its great atmosphere, mix of African, Muslim, and South Asian influences, picturesque harbour, beaches, chaotic markets, and historical buildings, it is well worth extending your stay beyond the time between flights.
Dar es Salaam is certainly not at the top of the list of places to see for most visitors to Tanzania. It’s often a necessary stop on their way to Zanzibar, the northern safari circuit or home, but Dar has its charm. Walks around the city centre are a great way to get a feel for the culture and Kariakoo market can be an interesting place for the more adventurous. It can also be a good base for visiting some of the nearby sites such as Bagamoyo, Bongoyo and Mbudja Islands, as well as learn to scuba dive or go deep sea fishing. For those looking for something more humanitarian, most international organizations are based in Dar and may be a good starting point if you wish to volunteer.
Most visitors to Dar arrive via Julius K. Nyerere International Airport, about 10 km west of the city centre. Dar is flat and is bordered on the east by the Indian Ocean.
Dar es Salaam has a very humid climate and relatively stable temperatures, both in terms of night-to-day, and summer-to-winter. The driest and coolest season is June through early October. Short rains occur November through February (especially December), and long rains occur March through May, with monsoon season peaking in April. Temperatures are high November through May, highest in January.
Between December and February, in the dry season, temperatures can rise to the mid-30s (°C); due to the high humidity, discomfort can be very high. You should seek shelter from the sun during the midday heat and use copious amounts of sunblock.
Best times to visit are: June-Sept, after the rainy season, with milder temperatures and lower relative humidity.