Dar es Salaam is very often overlooked by tourists, but there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't visit! Let me share some tips and tricks on how to get around in the city so you can go on an adventure in the biggest city of Tanzania!
The public transport in Dar es Salaam exists out of 2 categories. The first one is the "dala dala" and the second one is "BRT (mwendokasi)".
Dala dala are crowded mini buses that drive fixed routes and are in abundance all over the country. It connects all towns in the city with each other and reach even the most remote places. It can look confusing and chaotic, but there is an actual system that is not too difficult to get a hang of. There are no fixed departure times as you see in western countries, but you will never wait longer than 10 minutes unless you are heading to a remote place far outside of the city center. There are dala dala stops all over the city (and country) where you can hop on or off a minibus, but you will often see the bus stopping in between to drop or take in a client. The start and ending point of each minibus is painted on the front. If you understand which direction you are heading, it is actually really easy to find the right one. If staying for a while, you'll be a pro in no time! If in need, ask people at the bus stop or the dala dala employees.
The main stops in the city center that might be of interest to you are "Kivukoni", "Posta", "Kariakoo" and "Stesheni". The dala dala to Kivukoni takes you all the way to the Kivukoni area where the main fish market is located. You can also hop on the ferry to Kigamboni where you can enjoy some of the city's most beautiful beaches and experience the local life. The "Posta" headed dala dala takes you to the post office in the city center and is a great starting point to explore the city center by foot. If you want to be dropped at the most famous place in the city, you can head to "Kariakoo". Kariakoo is the biggest market of the country where you can buy literally anything that comes to mind. It gets incredibly busy here and it's easy to get lost, but it is a must-see when you're visiting Dar es Salaam. If you're heading to the Central Line Train Station to catch a train, you take the bus to "Stesheni".
You will pay anything between 300tsh to 600tsh for a fare on a dala dala depending on where you drop. A seat is never a guarantee and the minibuses are almost always very crowded. Try to hop on the dala dala at its starting point for a seat. When travelling with backpacks or some bigger luggage, the dala dala is definitely not the best option. It is however the best option to get around the city on a budget while experiencing the local life and maybe meeting some interesting people!
Warning: if you don't like to be squeezed in a hot bus, this is not for you. When sitting on a window seat, make sure to not use your phone too close to the window as sometimes motorcycles snatch it.
BRT / DART / Mwendokasi
There are many names for this line of fast busses connecting different parts of the city, but you can easily recognise the big blue busses driving in their own lane, usually in the middle of the road. It has less frequent stops and doesn't get stuck in traffic as much as a dala dala. Tickets are bought at the bus stop or terminal and it is a much easier system to understand. Each bust stop has a map of stops and routes so you can easily figure out which one to take.
You will pay anything between 400tsh to 1050tsh for a fare on a BRT bus, depending on the route you're taking. The latest route is going all the way to Mbezi where you can find the main bus terminal connecting all regions of the country to the city. This route requires 2 tickets and is still a bit confusing, so you might want to ask for some assistance.
A taxi is probably the most expensive option of transport when exploring the city, but it is still very affordable. You can find the traditional taxis around the city with a taxi sign on top, but these operate without a meter and so it is best to agree on a price before departure. Make sure to bargain as the first price you're told is pretty much always too high.
Since Uber has become very popular in the city, this is definitely the best way of taking a taxi. Prices of an Uber are very affordable and are the perfect indicator when you want to arrange a taxi upfront. You can take an Uber to and from almost anywhere in the city.
Warning: Dar es Salaam is know for it's traffic, so when travelling during peak times or when passing certain busy areas, expect to be stuck in traffic.
A Bajaji is a motorised tricycle also known as a TukTuk. You can find these all over and are my personal favourite way of transport in the city. With a bajaji, you can get everywhere fast as it passes along traffic quite well and it's very affordable. They do get a bit noisy and you will feel every bump when driving on bad roads, but that's part of its charm. You can experience the city very well in a bajaji as you're still outside and when sharing with max 2 people, both of you get a good view.
Nowadays, you can find bajaji's on Uber at a good rate if you're not up for negotiating the price. When taking a normal bajaji, make sure to agree on the price before departure or you might end up paying a very high price. There are some improvised bajaji stations here and there, but you can also wave them down when they're passing on the road. If they are not headed anywhere, they will definitely stop for you.
Boda boda (motorcycle taxis)
Lastly, you can also take a motorcycle to and from anywhere. Just as a bajaji, you can wave any motorcycle down when they're passing on the road and they will pick you up if they are not already heading somewhere. Make sure to agree on the price before departure as there are no fixed rates. Nowadays, you can find motorcycle taxis on Uber at a good rate if you're not up for negotiating the price.
Warning: we discourage the use of motorcycle taxis as there are numerous motorcycle accidents every day. We see that a lot of tourists like them, but they are dangerous. Most of the time, they will not have a helmet available and they pass through traffic recklessly. If you want to experience a boda boda ride, we highly recommend you do it away from the city center and busy roads as most accidents happen here.