ACTIVITIES & SIGHTS
Sea and beach
Our location just outside of town guarantees maximum exclusivity and privacy – here you can relax and swim in the ocean on the best beach in Bagamoyo. At low tide you can go for long walks along the beach and visit the nearby sand bank, collect beautiful shells, see what the fishermen pull from their their nets or admire the elaborate designs of the passing dhows (traditional sailing boats).
The dhow sailing boats, with their large, trapezoid-shaped sails onare still produced the beaches and around Bagamoyo with traditional, handcrafted methods.
Trips can be arranged through the hotel to explore and snorkel around the nearby small islands, sandbanks and coral reefs. We know and love the area and are always happy to suggest tips and activities for our guests.
The Boma was built as the residence of the German colonial governor and since its completion in 1897 served as the German administrative headquarters. Later the building was used by the District Commissioner’s Office.
The Customs House was built in 1895 by Sewa Haji and leased to the Germans.
The Kavanserai was a former board for wealthy merchants where preparations were made for caravans into the interior. Today the building houses the well maintained and informative Bagamoyo Museum.
The Old Bagamoyo Tea Housewas built in 1860 by Abdallah Marhabi and is probably the oldest building in Bagamoyo.
The two-story Liku House was the first administrative headquarters of the Germans in the years 1887-88. Emin Pasha lived here in 1889.
The well-maintained cemetery on the beachfromt dates from the years 1889/1990. Gravestones mark the fallen German soldiers who died during the revolt of Bushiri.
Bagamoyo Art College
Established in 1981, the Art College (Chuo cha Sanaa) is today the most famous art school in East Africa. Here you will find classes in theater, dance, music and painting. The spectrum of subjects range from traditional tanzanischem drums, dance and musical improvisation to sculpture, carving and painting. There are theater direction course and even musical instrument workshops.
Most students are Tanzanian, but the school also attracts students from Europe and, increasingly, in North America. On most weekends the students give performances in music, dance and theater. The annual Bagamoyo Arts Festival in late September / early October, attracts more and more artists from all over East Africa and an international audience always enjoys the exhibitions, workshops and performances.
The Fish Market
The fish market is the center of commercial activity in Bagamoyo: This lively market is full of hustle and bustle as the fishermen come and barter for their daily catch. Still used are the old stone tables in the covered market as the fish are bought and sold before being carted away.
Cross at the sea
In 1868 Father Antoine Horner first arrived on the mainland from Zanzibar to establish the first Christian Church on the mainland East Africa. From the cross a short path leads to a very small, nondescript church with tin roof. This is the Anglican Church of the Holy Cross where Dr. David Livingstone’s body was kept before he took his final trip back to England. It is also known as the “Livingston Church”.
First Church, Holy Ghost Mission (Mission of the Holy Spirit)
From Livingstone’s Church you can find the nearby Holy Ghost Mission up Mango Tree Drive, a shady avenue created in 1871. The ‘First Church’ was established in 1887 and, as the name suggests, was the first church built in East Africa. It was here in February 1874 where Livingstone, was first brought to by his African companions, Chuma and Sisi in a journey lasting over 1,500 miles from Ujiji to Bagamoyo. Other famous visitors to the church were Stanley, Burton, Speke, Grant, Peter, Wissmann and Emin Pasha.
Approximently 5 km south of the Bagamoyo Country Club is the present village of Kaole and the Kaole Ruins. The ruins are of an ancient trading town of Shirazi orgin dating back from the 13th to 17th centuries. The site includes two mosques and thirty tombs. They can be easily visited and an informative guide is included in the ticket price. A small museum is also in the enclosure.
FACTS & HISTORY
Bagamoyo is a quiet, coastal town of approximately 30,000 people many of whom are fisherman, subsistence-farmers, tradesmen or work in the tourism field . Bagamoyo’s proximity to Dar-es Salam has made it a popular “weekend destination” for those wishing to get out of the metropolis and breath in the fresh coast country air. But visitors to Bagamoyo would be wise to look beyond the beach and peek into the narrow alleyways of the old town. Waiting there are countless stories of one of the most fascinating, and sometimes tragic, histories in all of East Africa!
With the arrival of the first Persian-Shirazi Settlers in the 8th century, Bagamoyo became Tanzania’s first organized town. Today you can still see remains of this influential period only five kilometers from Bagamoyo at the Kaole Ruins (13th century) which boasts fine representations of early Islamic influence and architecture of settlers of the area.
By the middle of the 18th Century Bagamoyo was a relatively insignificant center for fishermen and small farmers. Trade was also made in locally produced commodities of coconut oil, tree resin and salt from the salt works located three kilometers north of town. Bagamoyo’s influence was enhanced by the increasingly favorable location as the main continental port to Zanzibar which resulted in the area gradually becoming the center for caravans from the interior. For a time Bagamoyo was the most important commercial center in East Africa for trading in ivory and slavery. Bagamoyo was the endpoint for the slaves trek coming from interior of the continent, The route covered 1500 km inland and ended at Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika.
Despite the official abolition of slavery in 1873 Bagamoyo continued to trade in slaves right up until the end of the century. The current name of the village, Bagamoyo (Bwaga-Moyo), translates to “Lay down your heart” and probably harkens back to times when Bagamoyo was the place where countless slaves looked upon African soil for the last time before being shipped to Zanzibar and onwards to the Middle East and Asia.
The first Catholic Mission in East Africa was built in Bagamoyo in 1868 by the Fathers of the Holy Spirit. The Mission initially served as a refuge for escaped children of slaves and, in later years, a church, school and agricultural facility/workshop were added.
Bagamoyo became famous as a starting point for expeditions of European explorers and missionaries such as David Livingstone. From Bagamoyo Richard F. Burton and John H. Speke started on their search for the source of the Nile. Henry M. Stanley passed through on a number of occasions, as did Tippu Tip, the infamous Zanzibarian slave trader.
In 1888 the German East Africa Company signed a treaty with the Sultan of Zanzibar which allowed the company rights of customs collection. The Germans began to question the authority of the Sultan and took possession of lands including Bagaomyo in 1890. There was a rebellion against the Germans led by Bushiri bin Salim al-Harthi but, after initial successes, Bushiri was defeated by German infantry and naval forces under Hermann von Wissmann. The leaders of the uprising were executed.
The German Government then purchased the Sultan’s rights of the coastal region for 4 million German Marks, and in 1891 the colony of German East Africa – with its new capital, Dar-es Salaam – was born. A lively stage of growth and construction was in store for nearby Bagamoyo, which already housed the German government, and there was a great expansion in trade and immigration flourished.
At the end of the First World War German East Africa was mandated to the United Kingdom by the newly formed League of Nations. With the loss of the German government Bagamoyo started to begin to lose her importance as a trading hub. The harbor was found to be too shallow for large steamers and the railway connection to the town was halted. The sleepy fishing village of Bagamoyo seemed poised to return to her roots again.
The Dar es Salaam-Bagamoyo paved road put Bagamoyo back on the map and today the town is set to be thriving again with trade and commerce anew. Renewed energies and investments are now underway to preserve the authentic charm of this historic fishing and farming village. Reconstruction of the old German Fort and Boma are already in progress, as are renovations to many other heritage buildings around the Old Town. The Bagamoyo Museum is full of interesting and varied exhibits and recently the town was honoured by being nominated as part of the new World Culture Heritage Site – East African Slave Route.