Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is not a city in which most American travelers will wish to linger. Although not actively dangerous like Nairobi, it’s a sprawling, ramshackle mess, often with diabolical traffic. Twenty years ago, the harbor could be quite picturesque, thanks to the sailing dhows that used to trade up the east coast of Africa to places as far afield as Bahrain and Dubai. But nowadays marine transport is chiefly provided by huge Chinese container ships.
However, an overnight stay can be a necessity for travelers en route from the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba to Tanzania’s wildlife areas, especially the more remote ones such as Ruaha National Park and the Selous Game Reserve — as it was for me on my recent trip. Oyster Bay is the city’s embassy and upscale residential district, an expectedly calm and well-groomed enclave that extends along the shoreline of the Indian Ocean.
I was driven from the airport by a uniformed chauffeur in a brand-new Audi. As it was a weekend, the roads were less congested, and after about 30 minutes, we pulled into the gated driveway of what appeared to be a desirable private residence. The Oyster Bay is a boutique hotel of two twin and six double suites. The air-conditioned accommodations are all spacious, with an appealing minimalism-meets-Africa aesthetic.