Bagamoyo, Tanzania

I am sure you have read so much about Zanzibar when it comes to travelling to Tanzania...I have spent the year here and have found different parts that deserve a lot of attention. This country is beautiful and there is infrastructure for tourism to thrive. When people ask me about travelling to Nigeria and West Africa, I tell them that there is a lot to do but we have some catching up to do compared to East African countries. West Africa is more about the culture and the people.

My latest discovery was a town called Bagamoyo. It is on the coast and is about 63km from Dar es Salaam.

When we got there, some tour guides tried to corner us. Luckily I was with a local who spotted the signs quickly. The first thing to do would be to go to the culture and antiquities department to pay the fee to see the area as going into these places and taking photos is not allowed.

We paid the tour guide 50,000 Tanzanian shillings to take us to all the sites we wanted to see. The fee to see the places we visited was 10,000 for me as a resident but 2,000 for my friend who is Tanzanian. We paid at the Antiquities dept, at the mosque ruins and grave sites and at the church museum. For non residents, it costs 20,000 shillings per head.

According to the tour guide, Bagamoyo is the oldest city in Tanzania. The Arabs were here then it used to be the capital of German East Africa in the 18th century and finally the British took over. The place is rich with history, there was a story on every street, every corner we went to. The Germans believed they owned East Africa so it was called German East Africa.

The Arabs arrived first and Bagamoyo was under the rule of the Sultan of Oman. When the Germans colonised, they used this building as a fort/military base against the Arabs and Africans.

After the first world war, the British took over and used the old fort as a prison for Africans. It became a police station after Tanzania got her independence. Today, the building is used as the culture and antiquities department.
Oldest door in Bagamoyo
 The door is the oldest door in Bagamoyo leading into the culture and antiquities department. Every detail on the door represents a part of the history of the place.

What used to be the kitchen in the fort

Coral stones were used a lot for buidling

The stairs leading up to the surveillance area

There used to be canons here

These trees were cleared so those up here could get a clear view of anyone approaching on the ocean

There is now a sitting area in the being my usual inquisitive self

People watched through these small windows for approaching enemies

The court yard where slaves were rounded up

Slaves were chained from neck to neck so they wouldn't escape

The name Bagamoyo was derived from Bwagamoyo as the 'slaves' said but this could not be pronounced by the Arabs so they went with Bagamoyo. The city was a permanent slave camp so at the end of the long travail, the 'slaves' thought they had some rest. 'Bwaga' means rest and 'moyo' means heart. There were slave dealings with Mauritius, Zambia and other countries. Bagamoyo was an important trading port along the East African coast.

The fort stands tall and it is impressive to see how many of the ruins have been preserved. 

View from the front
View from behind
The original tiles are still in place

 Inside the fort this 'safe' is left in this room. Many have tried to open it over the years but no one has been able to. It was left behind by the Germans and the local population has been advised to let it be since nothing can open it until the owners come back for their treasure.
View from inside the fort

The top of the fort is similar to the antiquities dept. building.
Spots to watch for attacks
We walked around and every street, every corner had a story.
The Arabs used to have tea here

The streets of Bagamoyo

Leading to the sea port

The fish market
 This was an important sea port before but it is no longer used for major business but to load these jerrycans of oil that are taken to other parts of the country.

A local market

Look at those!

Another preserved one

I liked this one

 This used to be the slave market but now it's used to sell art and craft.
 We saw this car which obviously is now antique so we played around.

Next we went to Kaole. We passed this on the way...

We went to an area with ruins of a mosque and graves. All the water that comes from the ocean is usually salty but this well produces fresh water and people drink the water as it's clean. There is a belief that when prayers are offered after drinking the water from this well, the prayers will be answered. Two of these guys drank the water while my friend washed his face with it.

 Ruins of the mosque and the grave site.

 This whole area is holy ground so to go in, we would have to take off our shoes.

This grave site is the lovers grave. A couple was washed ashore hugging each other. So even when they were to be buried, that was respected and they were buried together.
There was a baobab tree somewhere in the corner. There were people standing next to it. We were told that if you walk clockwise around it, you'll prolong your life. But if you walk anti clock wise, you'll shorten your life.
We let them have their privacy, it was a big group.

This street is called the missionary street as it leads up to the church where Christianity was introduced to Bagamoyo.

The immaculate heart of Saint Maria diocese is a historic church. The French brought Christianity there first in East Africa. The city however is made up of 70% Muslims, 25% Christians and 5% traditional worshippers.

The old church building

Dr. David Livingstone was kept in this place for a day when he was being transported from Zambia. So a tower was built to honour that memory.

Heading back, these were some of the things we saw.

The local buses are called matatu or daladala

 It was a day well spent. If you happen to be in Dar es Salaam and have a full day to spend, Bagamoyo is a good idea.


  1. Ene, this is one of my all time favourite posts of yours. So informative and enlightening, with many fine photos. My favourite picture is the 9th one down, in b&w, btw. Just saying! :) I love the dept name 'Culture and Antiquities'. Also the reference to your 'usual inquisitive self'. Plus, interesting history - nice to see the Germans marked out for once, though the British have a lot to answer for too, noted. Livingstone included. And the words 'matatu' and 'dalada'. A fine piece, as ever. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much Eddie. I'm glad my posts keep you coming back to my blog.
      Happy New Year 🎉🎊


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