Day 35 – 36: Bagamoyo


358 km Udzungwa to Bagamoyo

9 007 km trip to date

We first viewed the monkeys again before departing from Udzungwa. On the way to the coast the road goes through the Mikumi National Park for 50 km and we contemplated about staying there for one night. Taking photos along the Zam-Dar road is prohibited and so is parking along the road. By the time we arrived at the entrance gate of Mikumi NP we had seen so many animals along the road that we decided to push on to Bagamoyo, as the USD 188 for camping one night in a national park can buy us many seafood platters for the next week.

Wildlife seen on the 50 km stretch through Mikumi NP while driving on the Zam-Dar road:

  • Impala – many large herds
  • Grant’s zebra – many large herds
  • Giraffe tippelskirchi – plenty
  • Wildebeest – many large herds
  • Buffalo – plenty
  • Elephant – many
  • Warthog – many
  • Eland – one herd (approx 8)

After leaving the Mikumi NP the landscape changed to coastal flats with huge sisal plantations and the largest pineapples one can imagine were on sale next to the road.

Sisal plantations

At Mlandizi (55 km before reaching Dar es Salaam) we turned north onto a gravel road towards Bagamoyo where the landscape is similar to the KZN coastal regions. The villages were more tidy and lots of vegetable gardens were being tended to by the locals.

Vegetable fields outside Mlandizi

Bagamoyo is a town founded at the end of the 18th century, though it is an extension of a much older (8th century) settlement, Kaole. It was the capital of German East Africa and was one of the most important trading ports along the East African coast along the west of the Indian Ocean.

German boma – HQ of German East Africa

Until the 18th century, Bagamoyo was a small trading center where most of the population were fishermen and farmers. The main trading goods were fish, salt, and copra (gum). In the first half of the 19th century, Bagamoyo became a trading port for ivory and the slave trade, with traders coming from the African interior, from places as far as Morogoro, Lake Tanganyika and Usambara on their way to Zanzibar.

Slave posts still visible on the right

Experiencing Bagamoyo was another culture shock. We camped at the Firefly Lodge next to the local fish market. The lodge has a very exotic atmosphere with a fenced-in camping area towards the beach and lots of informal seating areas in the court yard next to the pool, bar and restaurant. This is a safe haven in this town. On Sunday night the singing from the mosque could be heard loud and frequently and by 21h00 the nextdoor club started their VERY, VERY loud music. We later went to bed despite this music and it became silent long after midnight. During the day loudspeakers blared at cracking volumes from vehicles driving through the streets playing music and advertising some products in Swahili.


Firefly court yard, bar, restaurant and office


A bedroom in the lodge with double bed behind curtains at the back
Firefly restaurant kitchen

The fish market is a busy, noisy, FILTHY place where the boats daily come in and the fish are gutted and cleaned right on the beach. Tons of the smallest anchovies are left to dry in the sun on tarpaulins right there on the beach, and everywhere heaps of fresh anchovies and other small fish are deep-fried and sold to locals. Dozens of open fires are made under the shelters and large pans of (old) oil are bubbling with frying fish. It is a smoky, smelly place. The larger fish caught in the morning are sold from ice containers. Our idea of tasting the local fish vanished as soon as we entered this market.

Entrance to fish market
Fire with oil to fry anchovies
Anchovies and other small fish ready to eat

At low tide the water edge is quite a distance from the high water mark and a lot of boats are beached.

Low tide


We also visited the fish market in the afternoon during high tide. Other boats had come in and a lot of bigger fish was on sale.  Small cooler trucks were around and we suspected that most of the afternoon fish would appear at the Dar es Salaam markets that evening.

There are NO seagulls on this beach. Only black crows.

High tide


Afternoon fish

More than 90% of the population of Bagamoyo depend on fishing as their daily source of income. According to studies the average fisherman earns Tsh 8000 per day (R48), which is much more than the minimum wage of Tsh 85000 per month (R510), but the marine life and coral reefs are destroyed on an ongoing basis and the fish is becoming smaller and less available. Near the shore they fish with gull nets from the dhows, or with long draw lines and they even use dynamite to fish. All the fish caught are brought to shore – no concern about size or species. Firefly Lodge does not have any fish on their menu, as they do not support the local fishing practices.

The town is full of ruins of German colonial buildings and the normal TZN village vibe. We walked around the town and found it a typical chaotic TZN town with signs of a different history.


Local spa


Village shops


Where we are now…

Next: to Peponi Beach Resort where Cobus and Henriete will join us for the coming few weeks.

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