The ticket agent couldn’t help but revel in my misfortune. “The train has left,” he announced, motioning out to the lonely track and beyond to the sprawling, oily expanse of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “And tomorrow?” I squeaked, unable to conceal my distaste for the city. “Next train,” he said, his cruel smile widening, “three days.” Reluctantly, I bought a new ticket.
I like thick, shaded woodlands and beachfront villages, sweeping tracts of farmland and quaint cobblestone hamlets. I enjoy crisp, clean air and the soothing presence of nature, so when I stepped outside the station and swallowed a lungful of syrupy city air, I began to freak out. “No train!” a cab driver exclaimed theatrically, hoping for a fare, and I suddenly remembered the fleeting conversation I’d had just two weeks before in the northern Tanzanian town of Moshi.
While enjoying a Tusker lager, I’d met a Canadian woman who, upon learning my intended backpacking route, was kind enough to write down some of her favorite spots. “And if you end up staying in Dar,” she said, scribbling onto the back cover of my journal, “you absolutely must stay at Sunrise Beach!” At this revelation, I fished my journal out from the bowels of my pack and, with the driver at my side, studied the back. Sure enough, there it was:
Sunrise Beach. Kigamboni Ferry.
I gazed across the skyline of Dar es Salaam, a city quickly approaching three million souls, and considered the hundreds of decrepit vehicles careening noisily among the cement towers, puffs of black smoke exploding from their mufflers. I turned to the driver. “Kigamboni?” I asked hopefully, and within the hour I was drinking a beer and watching the sunset on an idyllic stretch of Indian Ocean coastline.
Sunrise Beach Resort is an urban oasis, a respite of sea and sand amid the grimy bustle of an African megalopolis. The grounds are a verdant retreat from the city with a charming open air restaurant and bar, picturesque palms swaying above miles of pristine beach, and for budget monkeys like myself, the dirt cheap option of camping directly on the smooth, golden sand. As their website boasts, there is plenty to do:
There is endless enjoyment once you are at Sunrise Beach Resort which is fully equipped with Camel ride, Horse ride, Jet-skis, Ski bobs...Football, Pool Table, just to spoil yourself.