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Kaole Ruins in Bagamoyo

A tale of two Tanzanian cities

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posted October 25, 2018

As part of my trip to Tanzania in June for the NTA Product Development Trip, I got to spend two days before the safari started exploring the nation’s capital, Dar es Salaam, and the historical town of Bagamoyo. Scholastica Ponera of Pongo Safaris & Tours organized my touring, and I was in the capable hands of guide Tetula Okama and Hans Warburg, the company's business development manager.

We spent a full day of touring Bagamoyo, a fascinating rural outpost founded in the 700s that has strong ties to early European contact. During our stop at the Kaole Ruins, I learned how the region became a major trade center for merchants from the Far East, Africa and Europe in the 13th century.

The area also was a hub for Protestant and Catholic missionaries, primarily from Germany and England, who used the port city as a starting point for evangelistic outreach across Tanzania. In the late 1860s, land was given to one group of Catholics, and the first mission in East Africa was established.

Of the many cool places we saw and things we did, my favorite stop was the fish market in Dar es Salaam. The seaside market, which seemed like organized chaos, has two components—your typical vendor area with stalls and an auction area. We got to watch three rounds of live bidding, and while the man running the show didn’t talk a mile a minute (a la U.S. auctioneers) it was a fascinating scene.

The market also includes a section where you can have your fish cleaned and packaged, and an area where locals cook the fresh fish (either yours or what they’ve bought to sell). The last merchant booth we visited offered samples of what is easily the best calamari I’ve ever tasted.  

Tetula and Hans, both Tanzania natives, were very much in the know about the history of the places we toured. In addition to their extensive “professional” knowledge, they also offered interesting perspectives on everyday life. Their insights, and the laughter we shared, made my two days in the Tanzanian capital area very enjoyable.

For more information, contact Ponera or go to

Click here to read "Endless fun on Tanzania's endless plains," my recap of the NTA Product Development Trip/safari tour.

Top photo: Kaole Ruins in Bagamoyo
Photo by Pat Henderson