Why You (Yes, You) Should Visit
If we had the pleasure of seeing you in the last few weeks before we left, you were likely invited [pressured, coerced, begged] by Matt or I to plan a visit. Now that we’ve had some time in Dar, we can invite you with even more confidence because (a) we know where all the cool stuff is, (b) we have an extra bed for you, (c) we know you’ll love it here. If that didn’t convince you, consider the facts about Dar/Tanzania/Africa:
- The Msasani Peninsula is a tropical paradise. (You see, Andy, a peninsula is a land formation that has water on 3 sides.*) The Indian Ocean is beautiful and thus, the beach should not be neglected. There are some great local beaches, but you can also take a 30-minute ferry to a nearby island beach for a more isolated experience. Coco beach, located a block from our house, is an ocean-front preserve with great views. Although it is considered unsafe for foreigners, you can enjoy its beauty from the car as you drive up the Peninsula.
- For those of you who are concerned about crime, the peninsula consists of a large ex-patriot community and is very safe. All of your needs can be met on the peninsula. You really do not need to leave in order to have a good time. Nonetheless, there are also many fun and authentic experiences off the peninsula, such as markets and tea houses. By the time you (yes, you) get here, we will be proficient [enough] in swahili and can negotiate good prices for you at the market.
- Dar is surprisingly cosmopolitan. We have met friends from all over the world and perhaps just as exciting, we’ve eaten incredible food from all over the world: Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Italian, French, Japanese…the list goes on. Matt says the seafood is amazing, although I have yet to partake.
- If you have interests in scuba diving, snorkeling, or sailing, the opportunities are plentiful and many are very close. On my list is snorkeling at Prison Island, a preserve famous for its giant sea turtles.
- Among the many local products are unique fabrics, custom wood-carved furniture made from old dhow boats, baskets, and throw pillows. Most visitors do not leave the country without buying some Tanzanite jewelry, the stones of which are mined in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. We know a reputable dealer whose jewelry appraises for 3 times its price in the United States. My favorite local product is art from the Wonder Workshop where disabled polio victims weld together scrap metal into african-themed art. Products made locally are generally very inexpensive.
- Visitors get to rub shoulders with Maasai warriors. To be honest, this is only cool for the first couple of days. After that, you realize that the Maasai and just normal folks dressed in tribal gear, guarding your car while you shop. And they even carry cell phones!
- You can take a weekend trip to Zanzibar’s Stone Town (20 minute plane ride) or, for a short safari, head to Mikumi National Park (4 hour drive). Both are must-see experiences in Tanzania.
- If you’re up for a longer trip, you can head to the Serengeti to watch the wildebeests cross the Mara River, Ngorongoro Crater, or Mt. Kilimanjaro to hike the summit.
Knowing that a trip to Africa is no small ordeal, we thought we’d put the petition out there sooner rather than later. Let us know when you’re ready to start making plans 🙂
*Gotcha back for that time you told me that the Pentagon has five sides.