Everyone was telling me that getting to Dar Es Salaam Airport by bus wasn’t possible and the only way to reach it was by taking a taxi.
I looked at a map and noticed the airport was not far from the city. It stood on a major highway. There had to be a way to get there by public transport. The people who live and work near that area must be able to get to the city somehow without paying $35 for a taxi, right? After a lot of Googling around, I found no information. I hopped on the ferry and asked the staff there how I could get to the airport and found it was much easier than I thought. The total cost to get to Dar Es Salaam Airport by bus came down to only $0.10!
Without further ado, here is a VERY detailed step-by-step guide on how to get to Dar Es Salaam Airport by bus. Scroll to the end of the post if you just want a straight and forward one!
I included a lot of details on the “long version” below to give you an insight into my journey, but feel free to skip the “blabla” if you want to get the facts quickly. I also wrote there how to get FROM Dar Es Salaam Airport to the city if you are traveling the other way around.
The Long Version of How to Get to Dar Es Salaam Airport by Bus
Step 1: Get to Mnazi Mmoja (the main bus station in Dar Es Salaam). Make sure you leave with enough time on your hands as traveling by public transport takes longer than by car and keeping in mind that the traffic in Dar is insane!
Step 2: Arrive in Mnazi Moja (main bus station in Dar Es Salaam). Walk around the bustle and hustle as you see people doing the weirdest stuff you could ever imagine. Apologize thirty times to thirty different people for bumping into them as you search for the right bus. Search for the bus that says “G /Mboto” (it’s white with a light green stripe around it).
Step 3: Get on the bus. This will be hard, as it is PACKED with locals. By packed I don’t mean that every seat is taken, I mean that there will be people standing everywhere. Your but will touch other’s people butts if you have to stand like I did. There will be armpits on your face and you will barely be able to move your head.
Step 4: Place your belongings (backpack in front of you). Keep an eye out for them at all times. Pickpockets can happen.
Step 5: Watch as the guy who is in charge manages his way through the dozens of people on the bus to hand out tickets. Give him 450 shillings (0.10 cents). Tell him you are going to the airport.
Step 6: Watch as even more people get on the bus even though you thought it was physically impossible.
Step 7: Wait until the bus is bursting until the driver decides it is time to start the engine.
Step 8: Talk with the man standing next to you as he tries to teach you Swahili the whole way.
Step 9: Stand there and enjoy the moment. The ride can take anywhere from twenty minutes to one hour depending on the traffic. Avoid rush hour if possible.
Step 10: Keep an eye out for the airport. The bus only drives through that road and the airport is not its final destination. You will have to get off on the highway in front of it. It is likely that the driver will remember you, or the people you befriended during the ride will tell him to stop there for you anyway.
Step 11: Get out of the bus. Walk about 500 meters right to the airport. You made it to Julius Nyerere Airport! Woohoo!
TL;DR: How to get to Dar Es Salaam Airport by Bus
Head to Mnazi Mmoja Bus Station. I took a taxi from the ferry, as I was carrying a lot of cash and valuables. Dar Es Salaam has a reputation for being a hub for robberies, and I didn’t feel comfortable walking around with all my belongings. I managed to bargain the price down to 5000 ($2), which seemed quite fair to me considering it was rush hour.
Once at Mnazi Mmoja station, find a light green bus (dala dala) that says “G /Mboto” at the front (it will have a light green stripe on it, so it easy to identify it).
This bus drives up through road to the airport. The price of the ticket is 450 shillings, which, in dollars, is only about 10 cents!
This bus drives on the Julius Nyerere Highway. Tell the driver or charger that you want to go to the airport so they drop you off at the front (airport in Swahili is called Uwanja na Ndege, but you can also just say “ndege” (plane) and they will understand you).
The bus will drop you off right in front of the airport, from where you just need to walk a few meters to reach the entrance 🙂
*** Allow yourself extra time before your flight as the buses will only leave when they are full and the traffic in Dar Es Salaam can be crazy. I also wouldn’t recommend doing this at night for your own safety. ***
How To Get From Dar Es Salaam Airport to the city center
Leave the airport and walk towards Julius Nyerere Highway. Once on the highway, cross to the other side (you will see a huge mosque there).
Next to the mosque, there are buses with light green stripes on them. That’s the bus that will take you to the city. The price is 450. The last stop for the bus is Mnazi Mmoja bus station, where you can find a taxi or tuk tuk to wherever you are going next.
If you want to leave the bus a bit before (because your accommodation is on the way or whatever), just hit the window or roof of the bus with your hand, this is the Tanzanian way of telling the bus driver to stop 😉
And that’s it! 🙂 Hope you find this guide useful and enjoy the bumpy ride!