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The surroundings of Dodoma

Dodoma region covers more than 41,000 km2, which is comparable to countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands. The region could fit in two Slovenias or four Cypruses! So there is plenty of room for farmers and agricultural landowners.

Perhaps the most unexpected discovery for tourists is the fact that Tanzania has vineyards and, consequently, has its own wine production. The most famous wine-producing country in Africa is South Africa, which is steadily holding the 8th place in the world in terms of production output. The Mediterranean countries of North Africa are also famous for their vineyards. However, if we consider the part of the continent south of the Sahara, the second largest wine-making region is Tanzania, and all the vineyards of the country are concentrated just outside Dodoma.

It has an ideal climate for growing grapes and for producing dry red and white wines: the region is very sunny, the humidity is low, and the soil is sandy. The climate of the Dodoma region makes it possible to collect two harvests each year. Beginning as a missionary experiment, winemaking in Dodoma has continued as a state-supported industrial production.

 

A vineyard in the Dodoma region

 
A vineyard in the Dodoma region

Today, the scale of winemaking and selection of new grape varieties indicates great interest in this field on the part of both the Tanzanian government and businesses. The mere fact that in recent years the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute has promoted and assisted the import and cultivation of new wine grape varieties from South Africa shows the desire of the country and the region to reach a new level in winemaking. And the findings of recent studies hint at ample opportunities in this direction: grapes can be grown not only in Dodoma but also in the neighboring regions, including the climatically suitable Kilimanjaro region.

By the way, a grape variety that grows only here and nowhere else can be considered a unique feature of the Dodoma region. It is called Makutupora, after the name of the area where it grows. It is a red grape from a locality 20 kilometers north of Dodoma. In addition to the local Makutupora, other grape varieties grown in Dodoma include Chenin Blanc, Cinsaut, Aglianico, Shiraz (Syrah), and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Since there are several wineries in the region, if you plan your tour itinerary well, you can visit some of them, or at least taste the local wines. Who knows, perhaps you will be among the first to taste and appreciate a Tanzanian wine, which in a few years will manage to win the hearts of oenophiles by appearing on the wine lists of restaurants in other parts of the world (as, for example, is now happening with Georgian wines).

How to get to Dodoma

There are many daily buses from Dar es Salaam. Driving time is seven to eight hours with a stop in Morogoro. There are plenty options for luxury buses through out the day.  There are buses to and from Arusha via Kondoa to the north. The road is  paved and very comfortable, there are buses all the way to 1:00pm. The highway is known as the Great Northern Highway. Travel time is often in excess of 5 hours, and breakdowns are not common.

There are also buses to and from Iringa. Travel time is about six hours on a winding gravel road of varying quality. The road passes right over the Mtera Dam which is worth a look. Dodoma is situated on the Central Railway Line which goes from Dar Es Salaam to Mwanza or Kigoma.

If you are in a hurry the better choice is by bus. If the train service is running again and you are heading west, train is better, especially in the rainy season. Air Tanzania/ Precision air flies daily with the  between Dodoma and Dar es Salam for 250.000 TSH on Monday and Thursday, also to Mbeya.

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