We flew into Dar Es Salaam at around midnight. On arrival we realised that we needed to pay a visa fee of $100 US to enter Tanzania. At the immigration counter all arrivals are electronically fingerprinted, so we waited in line for this process and then once finger printed we were asked to pay the $100 US fee. I took out my credit card to pay, but no, it must be in cash! No problem, I asked for the nearest ATM. Turns out it’s on the other side, that is, outside of the airport. Hmm, ok, now what do we do? We’re tired and feeling a bit worried in case we couldn’t get through. Then the official talks to another official and they agree that I should be escorted by an armed guard, through security and customs out to the ATM. First I need to go to the money changer, find out how many Tanzanian Shillings I need to get $100 US. Then I am taken to the ATM, withdraw a wad of local currency, am escorted back to the money changer, who converts the Shillings to US$ (plus a fee), then I am escorted back through customs and security to pay the visa fee. Phew, what a process! So, be warned, carry the required amount of US$ in cash when entering Tanzania.
By this time ,we have been an the airport about an hour or so, and we had arranged for our hotel to send a driver to pick us up. So when we went outside the airport, we were getting worried that he might have given up and left without us, as we couldn’t see our driver anywhere. After asking some other drivers it seemed our driver was nowhere to be found. We telephoned the hotel, only to hear the owner answer in a very sleepy voice – we had woken him! Turned out he thought we were coming on the following day – communication breakdown. He advised us to take a taxi and would kindly make up a room for us.
Our taxi driver was a bit of a joker. As we are driving along the empty dual highway from the airport to Dar Es Salaam, he started speeding up to the oncoming red light and sped right on through, as we held onto our seats and feared for our lives. We asked why he drove through the red light. He explained that its not safe to stop on the road at night. This seemed to make sense, so we were then dismayed when as we approached a green light, he slowed right down, beeped his horn, and proceeded carefully through the intersection. When we asked him why he did this, he roared laughing and said, “In case some bugger is coming the other way, through the red light!”
We were met at our small hotel, which was surrounded by a high wall with embedded glass along the top, by the hotel security guard, to our surprise, a Maasai warrior in his full traditional dress. (turns out they make great security guards, they carry a very long scary knife under their robes, no-one messes with them)
We settled in to our room and fell asleep, exhausted by our long crazy day.
After spending a few days in Dar Es Salaam, took a light plane up to Ngorongoro Conservation area and went on a safari. We saw elephants, lions, deer, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, hippos, ostriches and monkeys.
After our safari we flew to Zanzibar and stayed in historic Stone Town for a few days – birthplace of Freddie Mercury, former slave and spice trade centre and UNESCO World Heritage site.
Slaves were brought here from all over Africa then sold. Whilst here they were kept in underground rooms with no natural light, chained together in cramped spaces for days on end, until they were brought out to sell. They were displayed in these holes for buyers to inspect them.
Fishing and seaweed farming are common occupations here. Women gather the seaweed at low tide and dry it in racks to sell.