My trip around Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia in September & October 2019 was nothing short of incredible. I have attempted to consolidate the details of my travels into this one pager and included lots of photos as I do believe that a picture is worth a thousand words. It is still a fairly long read but I hope you enjoy it!
At the end of each section, I've listed my favourite things to do in those places, and at the very end I've shared a recipe for Mandazi's.
The trip was a combination of work and visiting family and although I have been to Tanzania and Kenya a number of times (I am originally from there and have a strong connection to both countries) I was lucky enough to discover new places, meet amazing people and visit Ethiopia for the first time.
I started in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's commercial hub and a thriving tropical metropolis. I met with and discovered some wonderful organisations and products. It was inspiring to see great work being done by the locals to support their own local communities and discover remarkably innovative products, such as eco friendly beeswax wraps made by women who have albinism, pencils made from recycled newspapers and bamboo straws.
While in Dar, I also had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Edron from WomenCraft, who is one of our artisan partners. I hand picked a variety of wall baskets from their Refugee Collection - they are made from recycled sacks in which the refugees receive their monthly food rations.
Moyo Designs, another one of our artisan partners is also based in Dar at The Slipway. It's a vibrant and quirky East African design house and a great place to shop for striking home decor that effuses a modern, carefree and sassy kaleidoscope of Swahili style.
Dar es Salaam is well known for it's street food so I had to indulge in a couple of my favourites - Zanzibari mix and mishkaki! The food scene is wonderfully diverse, the markets are vibrant and bustling and the beaches are fabulous.
Five best things to do in Dar:
Check out Coco Beach / Oyster Bay areas
Eat Zanzibari Mix and Mishkaki (BBQ'd meat)
Visit the vibrant Kanga / Kitenge shops in the market area in town
Spend a day on the stunning beaches of Kigamboni or take a boat out to one of the islands
Pop into Make It Matter in Msasani (a lifestyle shop supporting the work of thousands of Tanzanian artisans) and the shops at Slipway where you'll find more beautiful creations, including Moyo Designs (our artisan partner)
After a few days in Dar, I flew (on the tiniest little plane) to Tanga - via Zanzibar and across the Pemba channel. I was born in Tanga - a small quiet town on the north coast of Tanzania. I have lots of wonderful memories of my childhood and spending summer holidays there, so it's always a joy to go back.
Filbert, our master wood carver in Mtwara (southern Tanzania) and Charles, our production manager, travelled to Tanga (with all their tools and wood in tow!) so we could meet and work on designing some new products. We spent four days together - thrashing out ideas, working on designs, putting systems into place and getting to know each other. They taught me about carving, we chatted and shared stories, laughed a lot and connected in a way that I'd never experienced. Those four days were absolutely amazing and moments I will treasure.
While I was in Tanga, I managed to fit in the perfect getaway - a trip to Magoroto Forest with my family. It's somewhere I'd been meaning to visit and although it rained for most of the time, it was unquestionably worth it. Situated 850m above sea level in the East Usambara Mountains, Magoroto is a breathtakingly beautiful tropical rainforest. The perfect place to lose yourself in nature and switch off from technology!
Five best things to do in Tanga:
Drink sugar cane juice
Visit the local fruit & veg market
Indulge in fresh sea food - prawns and lobsters in particular and try 'fish paka' (fish cooked in a coconut gravy)
Visit Magoroto Forest and nearby Muheza town for their oranges - the drive there is beautiful
Go for a dip in the ocean at Yacht Club
Next stop - Mombasa. I mostly spent time with family here and managed another getaway for a few days to the south coast for a bit of scuba diving and R&R. However, as with Dar es Salaam, I discovered some more organisations doing great work with the local communities and being resourceful with natural materials.
I visited a little town called Kilifi, north of Mombasa where we drove through stunning baobab and sisal plantations. I had the opportunity to meet with a couple who make products from baobab pods - lampshades, jams, soaps, oils, paper and more. They have a zero waste production process which was great to see.
Mombasa is steeped in centuries of seafaring history and is a charming melting point of cultures, predominantly African, Indian and Arab. Beyond the ancient architecture and rich history, it is also well known for its exotic coastline.
No trip to Mombasa is complete without a visit to Lighthouse. There's nothing quite like sipping a madafu with the wind in your hair alongside panoramic views of the Indian ocean.
Five best things to do in Mombasa:
Visit Fort Jesus and Old Town - wander through the narrow streets, pop into antique shops and Imani Collective
Drive along Lighthouse and stop for some Madafu (coconut water) and Mogo crisps (cassava)
Go on the Tamarind Dhow and enjoy a Dawa - a quintessential East African sundowner
Visit Kilifi - drive through sisal and baobab plantations and visit Seedling Kenya
Spend a few days on the beautiful beaches of Diani in south coast - Sands at Nomads is my top spot
The final stop on my trip was Addis Ababa - Ethiopia's sprawling capital city and a cultural gateway into the country. While it is of no discernible beauty, Addis is economically thriving and Ethiopia is booming in new industries.
Our artisan partner Sabahar is based in Addis, so of course I had planned a visit especially. They have a fantastic set up surrounded by greenery. It was wonderful to finally meet Sophie and the team who we had been communicating with virtually for a few years, as well as watching the artisans create beautiful pieces that Sabahar is so well known for.
I managed to squeeze in a food and cultural tour with Go Addis Tours which was wonderful and gave a me a real insight into Ethiopian traditions and food. And of course, no trip to Ethiopia goes without partaking in a traditional coffee ceremony!
Five best things to do in Addis:
Book onto a food and cultural tour of the city with Go Addis Tours
Visit Shola Market and experience the sights, sounds and smells of Ethiopian culture
Stop by and have one of the best macchiato's you'll ever have at Addis's oldest coffee house - Tomoca Coffee
Visit Sabahar and Salem's - take a tour around their workshops and treat yourself to one of their beautiful pieces
Enjoy Ethiopian food (it is delicious!) and attend a coffee ceremony
This was probably my best trip to East Africa to date and I am so grateful for the experiences, particularly the news ones. I learnt so much about our makers and the processes behind our products. My appreciation for all things hand made has soared beyond what I could imagine!
I am going to leave you with lots of photos of this incredible part of the world and my MANDAZI RECIPE.