Back in Dar Es Salaam

With less than 24 hours after returning from Italy, DonQui finds himself on his way to Tanzania. It is a county he loves and despite the short turn around, and the long flight via Amsterdam and Nairobi, he is very happy to be here.

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On arrival in Dar es Salaam he immediately makes his way to his favourite watering hole – the Waterfront Restaurant on Oyster Bay. He is slightly disappointed to see that they no longer offer the goat curry which had inspired him to create his own version.

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They do, however, have roast goat on the menu and this is what DonQui goes for. Served with rice, plantain and a very spicy sauce on the side it is rather good, if not quite as good as DonQui’s own goat curry.

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But the view cannot be beat, nor can the genuine friendliness of the Tanzanians. DonQui hopes that he will have the opportunity to return many more times.

 

 

Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar

DonQui is on his way to Zanzibar for the weekend.

He had a number of travel choices from Dar and has opted to fly rather than take the ferry. His main reason for doing so is to be able to get back to Dar es Salaam airport to connect with another flight on Sunday evening. If he took the ferry he would have to struggle through Dar traffic again and he would rather maximise his time on the beautiful island of Zanzibar.

He takes the evening Precision Air flight, the return portion being due to deliver him back to Dar 2hrs 30mins before his flight on Sunday.Precision Air

He hopes it will all work out as planned!

It was a bit of a struggle getting to the airport from Jangwani. Late Friday afternoon the roads are always clogged in Dar and his Tanzanian friends warned him of election rallies that were blocking the traffic and making the journey even more nightmarish than usual.road

Fortunately he had already struck an agreement with a local taxi driver who took him a circuitous route through markets and the down the dirt roads of the more ramshackle parts of Dar. Bypassing the stationary traffic on the main routes he got DonQui to the airport in plenty of time for $15 less than the official rate.Dan Air 2

Previously DonQui has taken the Dan Air flight to Zanzibar. Dan Air is a very small outfit flying very small planes.IMG_2375

The trip itself was great fun, flying low and slow over the Indian Ocean.

What DonQui did not know at the time was that Dan Air operates from a different domestic airport which is close to main terminal but far enough to make connections problematic. Precision Air, on the other hand, flies out of Julius Nyerere International.

Travellers Cafe

The hop over to Zanzibar takes only 20 minutes and before long DonQui is settled down at the very pleasant Traveller’s Café in Stone Town.Samosas

Here is sips a Serengeti, munches on some rather fine Samosas, listens to the sound of the waves and begins to feel quite relaxed.

DonQui recommends
Trust the taxi drivers in Tanzania. You need to agree prices in advance but they will always honour them. If you arrange a pick up at a certain time and place you can count on them being there. Completion is stiff and they will keep their part of the bargain to gain future custom. At the airport there is no room for bargaining — the rates are set, but if you make a private arrangement in advance you can lower the price considerably.

Make sure you have a plentiful supply of US dollars in relatively low denominations. Many places are cash only and many prices are set in dollars. Even hotels and airlines will at times take cash only and not credit cards.

Dar es Salaam

DonQui likes Tanzania and he likes the Tanzanians. Everyone seems so friendly, open and helpful. Of course they operate on African, not Swiss, time but then maybe that is why they seem to smile more. DonQui does not recall seeing so many smiles in Switzerland despite the scenery and efficiency of that country.

Tanzania is truly beautiful and diverse, justly famous for its great wildlife parks, Kilimanjaro and the beaches of Zanzibar.

Dar_es_Salaam_before_duskUnfortunately DonQui cannot be quite so effusive about Dar es Salaam. The city is a busy, sprawling metropolis of over 4 million people with few immediately obvious attractions beyond the friendliness of the inhabitants.

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With the growth of an increasingly prosperous middle class has come the curse of the automobile. With no public transport to speak of and no traffic management, the roads are a choking, crawling nightmare.

Most tourists only come to Dar as a stopping off place to somewhere else but DonQui has spent quite some time here over the past few years. Although he cannot truly say that he likes the city, he has a certain fondness for it and has found a few oases where he can feel quite comfortable.

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His favourite place is Slipway.  Once a boat yard and now in the heart of the upmarket Msasani Peninsula it offers shops and restaurants geared to the well heeled citizens of Dar and the diplomatic community that has taken up residence in the surrounding area.

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It may not be representative of the ‘real’ Dar but DonQui feels very much at home here with the multi-ethnic crowd, good food and relaxed ambiance.

IMG_2331Although most of Dar faces east over the Indian Ocean, Slipway faces west over the Msasani Bay. At sunset, the views are pretty hard to beat.

IMG_2346DonQui’s favourite place for a sundowner is the Waterfront Sunset Restaurant and Beach Bar. There he sips a cold Serengeti to watch the sun set over the bay alongside the eclectic mix of diplomat kids, weatherbeaten divers from the adjacent PADI centre, a mish-mash of expats, locals and tourists. He can hear English, Swahili, Afrikaans, Swedish, German and Finnish being spoken at the tables surrounding him. The food is pretty good too with everything from thin crust pizza to locally caught fish. His favourite, however, is the goat curry.

Further north, as the urban sprawl gives way to more open country is Jangwani beach where a number hotels, not least a new and very swanky looking Ramada Inn, have sprung up to cater for the conference and tourist trade.

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The setting with white sand beaches overlooking the Indian Ocean is rather magnificent but outside the hotels there is not much on offer.

IMG_5576DonQui is spending a couple of nights at the White Sands Hotel. He cannot fault the place. The rooms are comfortable, mosquito proofed and all have beach front balconies or terraces. The beach is clean, the food is OK, wifi works, the endemic power cuts are dealt with by generators, and the staff are incredibly friendly.IMG_5574And they even have a pier just like Southwold!

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In October the hotel is pretty well empty with staff seeming to outnumber customers, most of whom seem to be monitors for the Tanzanian election which takes place this coming Sunday. If there was more to do outside the hotel, DonQui could consider it for a holiday. He would jump at the chance to use it as a conference or training venue.

Flying to Dar

There are, unfortunately, no direct flights from the UK to Tanzania, so DonQui has to work through the various options.

Disregarding Ethiopian Airways, the cheapest flights are with Emirates or Turkish Airlines but they involve inhospitable hours and even more inhospitable long lay-overs at Dubai or Istanbul. Qatar Airlines has a flight via Doha which is a relatively short layover but it is still in the middle of the night.

As readers of his blog will know by now, DonQui is a creature who rather likes his comforts and so he seeks out more civilised routes. Kenya Airways’ overnight flight from Heathrow to Nairobi with a morning connection to Dar is not too bad. DonQui has taken this route before. It was relatively hassle-free despite the fact that he almost missed his connection in Nairobi because he was chatting and did not pay attention to a gate change.

Even better, from DonQui’s point of view, is the late morning KLM route from Amsterdam. It goes direct to Dar Es Salaam with no changes, no long layovers and no missing a night’s sleep. Sometimes it stops off at Kilimanjaro to let off groups of sturdy, outdoorsy-looking, mountaineering types — but apparently not at this time of year.

Amsterdam airport

Of course DonQui will need to get to Amsterdam first. However, as his home stable is in the closest part of England to the Netherlands, it is a simple matter of a 30 minute connecting flight from Norwich. For those living closer to the Big Smoke there is a similar connection from London City Airport.

When flying DonQui is not the most sociable animal on board. His preference is to sit in splendid isolation and talk to nobody. On a night flight he tends to drop off to sleep on take-off and wake shortly before landing — much to the annoyance of Duchess who finds sleeping on board nigh-on impossible.

In order to reduce the chances of his peace and tranquility being interrupted by a gregarious or fidgety neighbour, DonQui has a couple of tricks he employs. They don’t always work but they do help to stack the deck in his favour.

DonQui much prefers a window on long flights — so he can sleep without being disturbed. Therefore, he always pre-books a seat even if it costs a bit more. He never selects a seat in front of an emergency exit row as these often do not recline for safety reasons. If there is a row of three seats he looks on the seating plan for one with the aisle taken but the middle still empty. If the flight is not full there is less chance of a single middle seat being taken. Finally it is also worth remembering that flights tend to be fuller at the front so if you are looking for peace and quiet rather than a quick exit, book a seat in the back.

on boardDonQui is pleased to find the flight from Amsterdam to Dar is relatively empty. Although the front seats are mostly filled up, DonQui has reserved his at the back where there is plenty of space for him to put his hooves up and enjoy the flight in relative undisturbed comfort.

Amazingly, the food on board is not too bad for economy class feed.

Fine dining it certainly isn’t but DonQui thinks that the vaguely Indonesian style chicken and rice, and the cucumber salad with ginger and chilli, are both rather good. The lump of cheese is edible while the lemon cream with berries is actually delicious. The South African wine is pretty decent too. KLM used to have a reputation for cheap and not very cheerful flights. Perhaps their merger with Air France has improved the catering standards!