Travel Tips for Bus Travel between Arusha to Dar es Salaam

Published: 15th May 2006
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To travel from Arusha to Dar es Salaam is easiest by air, however, this will cost about US$200 per person. The cheapest alternative is to travel by bus, which is never advised by tour operators. However, it need not be a nightmare as there are some good companies operating in Tanzania.

The most well known bus company must be the Scandinavia Express. They operate probably the best, safest and most comfortable transport between the two cities; it is, of course, the most expensive private bus option - at US$25 per person - and to book in advance is essential. In Arusha the offices for Scandinavia have moved to Kilembero Market – which is close to the Shoprite supermarket. Scandinavia have recently been in huge debt and have had some of their buses seized by the police; this has made the headlines in the East African news papers. It has also made booking in Advance more essential as the fleet is depleted.

The 'Dar Express' bus service comes a close second to Scandinavia or maybe an equal first place. They have different classes of busses and when at the booking Office – which is situated close to the Kimahama Bookshop [about 500m up hill from the Arusha Stadium] – it is essential to say you want the first class bus which should cost about US$18 per person. Dar Express are, without doubt, my favourite company and I would recommend this company above all others. However, some of the coaches do not have a toilet - although this may in fact be a blessing – as you travel in the African heat [and especially if you are sat toward the rear of the bus] a toilet may not seem such a luxury after most of the passengers have taken advantage of the service. The smell can become quite overpowering and the journey is a long one – about ten hours.

If you opt for the cheaper end of the market, most busses leave from the Bus Station close to the 'Stadium'. Buffalo seem to be a favourite but they travel too fast. Speed is not a good thing as in places the road is single carriageway, it winds and there are hills; slowly slowly is the best way to ensure you get from Arusha to Dar es Salaam alive.

I would recommend either Fresh Coach or Amazon Coach – the ticket price must be negotiated and do not pay more than US$10 per person. The last of each of these coaches leaves Arusha Bus Station at 8 am sharp. Tickets are usually sold by freelance workers and as the commission is good – the more they charge the more pay they take home – competition is fierce. If you are a westerner then you will be targeted and you will be surrounded by enthusiastic ticker touts. This experience is not for the faint hearted. Hang onto your luggage and watch out [as you would as a tourist anywhere in the world] for pickpockets.

Fresh coach and Amazon travel to Dar es Salaam at a more leisurely pace and they are safer than the full steam ahead express buses.

If you want to leave Arusha and travel by bus to make the ferry crossing to Zanzibar in a single day - I would suggest leaving Arusha around 6 am to ensure you are in Dar es Salaam by 2pm. That gives you a good couple of hours to get from the Bus Station into town and to the ferry, buy your ticket.

The site http://www.tanzania-info.co.uk has full details and timetables for Zanzibar Ferries, flights and Buses in Tanzania – and http://www.betheladventure.co.uk has safari information. Use responsible tourism to make a difference to the countries and peoples you visit.

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