“The Oldest Swahili Coast”
Bagamoyo Stone Town, or Mji Mkongwe, as it is known by locals, is located on the eastern side of Tanzania along the Indian Ocean in the Coast Region.

The town has old historic buildings, which were used by the German Colonial Administration in the 18th and 19th centuries for different purposes. The town has several other historical buildings of the Arabs and the Germans, like the Old Fort, built in 1897; Liku House, which served as German administrative headquarters; the first multiracial school; the old
slave market and German customs house; slave house prison; and scenery of the Indian Ocean.


In Kiswahili, the name Bagamoyo translates to take a load off your heart. Your load is supposed to be lifted by the words to help you feel at peace.
This is a reference to Bagamoyo, renowned as a town of porters in the nineteenth century. The medieval settlement served as the destination for thousands of porters who traveled with the caravan and carried, on average, 70-pound loads across their shoulders, principally ivory tusks.
After a taxing journey and months of hiking over dangerous terrain, Bagamoyo appealed as a destination for recreation and rest.

Bagamoyo Historic Town The original settlement, Kaole, was founded c. 800 CE and grew into an important trading town by the 13th century. The Kaole Ruins contain the remnants of two mosques and 30 tombs, dating back to the 13th century. Until the 18th century, Bagamoyo, the settlement 5 kilometers (3 mi) north of Kaole, was a small trading center where most of the population were fishermen and farmers. Their main trading goods were fish, salt, and gum, among others.

Around the 17th century, this area began growing in prosperity, and by the 18th century, it was an important stop in the caravan and slave trade, acquiring the name Bagamoyo. It became the most important trading entrepot on the east-central coast of Africa in the late 19th century.
In the late 18th century, Muslim families settled in Bagamoyo, all of whom were relatives of Shamvi la Magimba in Oman. They made their living by enforcing taxes on the native population and trading in salt gathered from the Nunge coast north of Bagamoyo. In the first half of the 19th century, Bagamoyo became a trading port for ivory and slaves, with traders
coming from the African interior—places as far as Morogoro, Lake Tanganyika, and Usambara—on their way to Zanzibar. This explains the meaning of the word Bagamoyo (Bwaga-Moyo), which means lay down.
your heart, in Swahili. It is disputed whether this refers to the slave trade that passed through the town (i.e., gave up all hope) or to the porters who rested in Bagamoyo after carrying 16-kilogram (35-lb) cargoes on their shoulders from the Great Lakes region (take the load off and rest).
There is considerable debate regarding the extent of the slave trade as a major export in Bagamoyo, with archival analysis suggesting that ivory was the primary export over slaves and that many of the caravan porters on the ivory route were free-wage laborers as opposed to slaves. However, the history of the slave trade features prominently in the shared culture of its residents, and organizations such as UNESCO emphasize its importance as a cultural heritage site memorializing the slave trade in East Africa.

The Kaole Ruins

The slave trade in East Africa was officially prohibited in 1873 but continued surreptitiously to the end of the 19th century.
In 1868, Bagamoyo local rulers, known as Majumbe, presented the Catholic Fathers of the Holy Ghost” with land for a mission north of the town, the first mission in East Africa. This caused resistance by the native Zaramo people, which was mediated by representatives of Sultan Majid and, after 1870, by Sultan Barghash. Originally, the mission was intended to house children who were rescued from slavery, but it soon expanded to a church, a school, and some workshops and farming.
But Bagamoyo was not only a trade center for ivory and copper; it was also a starting point for renowned European explorers. From Bagamoyo, they moved out to find the source of the Nile and explored the African inner lakes. Some of these were Richard Francis Burton, John Hanning Speke, Henry Morton Stanley (55), and James Augustus Grant. Although often believed so, David Livingstone had never been to Bagamoyo in his lifetime. Only after his death was he laid out in the Old Church tower.
(nowadays named Livingston Tower) to wait for the high tide to come in and ship his body to Zanzibar.
Bagamoyo was the first capital of the colony while serving as the German headquarters of German East Africa (first under the auspices of the German East African Company and then the German Imperial Government) between 1886 and 1891. Dar es Salaam became the new capital of the colony in 1891.

The town was apparently where SS-Oberführer Julian Scherner was born in 1895. When the German Empire decided to build a railway from Dar es Salaam into the interior in 1905, Bagamoyo’s importance began to decline.


Tourism Activities

The old town of Bagamoyo offers exploration and educational tours.
night and day walks
Snorkeling and diving in the Indian Ocean
-sport fishing
-boat tours
-sea views.

Other tourist attractions found near Bagamoyo Stone Town are Kaole Ruins, Pande Game Reserve, and Sadaan National Park.


The area is easily accessible by tarmac road (63.4 km) from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo Town, about a 2-hour drive.

Supporting Facilities

At Bagamoyo town, there are several rest houses, lodges, and hotels; however, one can secure accommodation in Dar es Salaam.