Tanzania Shopping and Night life

There are several craft and curio shops in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and stone town where tourists can shop African crafts. Many road side stalls in up country towns and along the roads to the national parks also provide opportunities for craft shopping. Popular items on the market include; African drums, batiks, basket-ware, soapstone knick-knacks, handmade chess sets, paintings of Masai tribes and Serengeti landscapes in the popular Tingatinga style, and large wooden carvings of animals or salad bowls fashioned from a single piece of teak, mninga or ebony.

Masai items such as beaded jewellery, decorated gourds and the distinctive red-checked blankets worn by all Masai men make good souvenirs. Kangas and kikois are sarongs worn by women and men respectively and are often in bright colours and patterns. These are made into other items including clothes, cushion covers and bags. In Zanzibar, find old tiles, antique bowls and the famous carved wooden Zanzibar chests (once used by the Sultans to store their possessions, but today ornate replicas), and pick up packets of Zanzibar’s famous spices in Stone Town, as well as on a spice tour.

A Tanzanian unique product is the semi-precious stone called tanzanite, which ranges from deep blue to light purple and is only found around Arusha. Tanzanite jewellery can be seen in up market curio and jewelers shops in Arusha, Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar’s Stone Town.

Though most prices in shops are fixed, the curio shops offer chances for bargaining, especially if it’s quiet or you are buying a number of things. Bargaining is also very much expected in the street markets. Most shops are open Monday-Friday 0800-1730 and Saturday 0830-1230. Some tourist shops open on Sunday, while some Muslim-owned supermarkets and other businesses close on Friday afternoons but may also be open on Sunday. On Zanzibar, some shops close for a siesta from around 1200-1500 but stay open later until around 1900.

Note that CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) was established to prevent trade in endangered species. Attempts to smuggle controlled products can result in confiscation, fines and even imprisonment. International trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn, sea turtle products and the skins of wild cats, such as leopard, is illegal.

Nightlife is limited in Tanzania, though Dar es Salaam has several nightclubs, cabaret venues and cinemas. Generally, nightlife is vibrant in top tourist hotels and restaurants. All along the coast, and particularly on Zanzibar, hotels and beach bars often feature bands at the weekends and dance floors are set right on the beach. Quite often, traditional tribal dancing and drumming is performed in the safari lodges and beach resorts. Boisterous full moon parties have become popular on Zanzibar’s backpacker-focused northern beaches.