Tanzania, a legendary corner of Africa’s East Coast, has been a vibrant center of trading for centuries, making it a unique blend of Indian, African, and European cultures. The capital city’s cracked cement sidewalks host an impressive number of fruit carts, vegetable vendors, and rickety pop-up grills, all of which come to life after sundown during mid-July, when the country’s majority Muslim population celebrates Ramadan.
I traveled to the capital, Dar Es Salaam, in that hot mid-summer month, and then made my way via ferry to the lush island of Zanzibar. While Dar Es Salaam was a bit hard and disorienting, Zanzibar had effortless beauty: We found empty white beaches, delicious stews, and plenty of winding stone alleyways to explore. —
Stone Town is the oldest part of Zanzibar city, and your first stop when you arrive on the ferry. It’s home to the city’s most historic landmarks, including the Old Fort, which was originally built around 1700 by Arabs from Oman as a defense against the Portuguese. Allie Wist
Tanzanians consume a wide array of banana cultivars: They use green bananas and plantains (pictured here) as a starchy staple in meals, while smaller, sweeter, ripe bananas are eaten plain or grilled over an open flame. Allie Wist
Vendors sell ice cream from a cart all along Coco Beach, a crowded, sandy stretch on the southeast coast of Dar Es Salaam. Allie Wist
Local women walk through one of the many spice farms on Zanzibar, where vanilla, cloves, black pepper, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, breadfruit, coconuts, jackfruit, passionfruit, and lemongrass are grown.
Left: A woman walks through alleyways in Zanzibar’s Stone Town. The majority of women in Zanzibar wear the Tanzanian version of the Muslim hijab, called a kanga. Right: Mangoes, pineapples, and rambutan are sold on a street corner. Allie Wist
Left: A woman prepares fresh-caught sardines for sale at the fish market in Dar Es Salaam. Right: A small fishing boat sits just off the coastline. Allie Wist
A wall in Stone Town is painted in Arabic with religious verses from the Quran. 98 percent of the population in Zanzibar is Muslim. Allie Wist
Left: A boy bikes through the maze of alleyways that make up Stone Town. Right: Vendors sell eggplant, chilies, lemons, ginger, and potatoes along the side of the road. Allie Wist
The sun setting in Zanzibar in mid-July means locals can break the Ramadan fast and enjoy their evening meal. Allie Wist
A vendor sells legumes and corn in a huge, semi-covered market in the Kariakoo neighborhood of Dar Es Salaam. Corn was only introduced to Africa in the 17th century, but it was quickly adopted across the continent as a reliable staple food for growing populations. Allie Wist
The sun sets behind the restaurant at Mustapha’s Place, a cluster of bungalow-style guesthouses just off the beach in Zanzibar. Allie Wist
Dried fish are sold in a market in Kariakoo in Dar Es Salaam. Small dried fish like these are combined with tomatoes, chilies, and coconut milk in a Tanzanian dish called Dagaa. Allie Wist
Fishermen haul their catch onto the beach at the tip of the Msasani Peninsula in Dar Es Salaam. Later, they will set up just yards away at the open-air fish market. Allie Wist
Coastline on the south side of Stone Town in Zanzibar. Allie Wist