BAGAMOYO ”Lay down your heart”
Bagamoyo is an old town located 75 km from the north of Dar es salaam. This town has a rich history dating back to the 8th century. It is definitely one of my all time favorite near home destinations, it normally takes me about forty minutes to get there. The word itself Bagamoyo is derived from a Swahili word meaning ” Lay down your heart”. It is believed that the area was given this name because of the slaves and slave traders who stopped in the destination after a long journey from the interior of Tanzania carrying numerous goods and commodities before heading to Zanzibar.
Bagamoyo is famous for its many historical attractions such as the Kaole ruins( will talk more about this in a bit), the mission cross, the old catholic church, the church museum, the caravan serai, The German fort, and many other.
Catholic church museum
One of the first stops I normally visit when I go to Bagamoyo is the catholic church museum, there you will get a little briefing about Bagamoyo, its culture and history. The museum is in a historical building that was built in 1876 as a sisters’ house. If you would like to rent a local guide, you will be more likely to get one at the museum. I wont ruin the fun by giving details about what you will see at the museum but the museum hosts records and artifacts that dates back to the 19th century.
There is also a really cool baobab tree on the backside of the museum where madame de Chevaler a french nurse volunteering at the dispensary tied her donkey using a steel chain. As the years went by the tree has grown further to swallow the chain, but in 2012 a 34 inch chain was added to the original in order to preserve the tree’s history, you can still see a little bit of the original chain.
The old fort
You cant go to Bagamoyo and not visit the old fort. This is one of the oldest buildings in Bagamoyo town. I wont bore you so much with the historical facts, but I will briefly describe it. The building had different reincarnations, it was owned by an Arab merchant named Abadallah Suleiman Marhabi in the 1860s, it also acted as a last stop for slave traders and their caravans before boarding to Zanzibar. In 1896 it was taken over by Germans and was used as a Garrison during the war, and it was until 1919 that the building was changed into a prison. Note, this is just a tip of the entire history of this place.
I will not describe each and every attraction in Bagamoyo, because if I do why then would you want to visit? The next attraction I will thoroughly describe is probably the most important and the oldest of the other two that I talked about. The Kaole ruins are a symbol of the society that once existed in the 7th century. The town grew rapidly by the 13th century as an important trading ground. The Kaole ruins has remnants of two mosques and 30 tombs.
Some parts of the ruins have special rules and customs, such as the mosques where you will not be allowed to step in without taking off your shoes. There is also a well of wonders that is believed to have stayed in use for more than 500 years. Some grave sights have unique beliefs like the valentine grave and that of a prophet little girl. Note that there are different entrance costs for both locals and foreigners.
Kaole is definitely a must see place if you ever visit Bagamoyo. The ruins really brings the past civilization to life.
Snake Park and Camel rides
Bagamoyo is not just a historical destination. There are some non historical activities you can do. You can visit the snake park where you can view different varieties of African venomous and non venomous snakes (Personal favorite). The best thing I love about this place is that you get to touch a snake if you want to. I personally have never missed the opportunity to do that. I highly suggest you try it, the snake is non venomous and super friendly.
If snakes aren’t for you, there are camel ride activities that are done outside the snake park as well.
Other notable attractions that I didn’t mention but are still equally interesting are:
The fish market
Old German Boma
The Kaole Mamba (crocodile) Ranch
Roman catholic missionaries burial site
The caravan Serai
If you have any future plans of visiting this beautiful vintage town or if you need more information about Bagamoyo, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to help.
Your rafiki blogger here,