What kind of city is Dodoma?
Dodoma is a relatively small city, which according to the latest data (statistics from 2012) has a permanent population of 410.000 people. It gives the impression of a cozy and bright city, built with a well-thought-out layout. There is no piling up of tall buildings, on the contrary, we can say that the capital of Tanzania fits very harmoniously into the natural landscape of the savannah and the surrounding hills.
Dodoma city – located in the wine region of central Tanzania – embodies nationalistic ambition as a capital. Its grand street plan and imposing architecture however, differs from everyday life and the rural environment. The rare and wondrous Kondoa Rock-Art Sites (UNESCO World Heritage Sites), scattered along the slopes of the Rift Valley, are among the main attractions of the Dodoma region.
The city is crossed by two regional roads running north-south and east-west. Thus, Dodoma is divided into four segments, and each of those segments is well-designed and divided into neighborhoods. The planning of the new capital was approached with such care that the master plan was developed twice, the competition was attended by international companies, and the approval of the final project, in the end, took more than ten years.
The streets of the city are pleasant to walk on – there are pedestrian sidewalks (in general, for traditional urban planning in Tanzania, this is a serious problem). Also, Dodoma was originally designed as a modern capital with facilities for cyclists and convenient bus services. Traditional dala dalas – minibusses that operate like shuttle buses run through the city, as well as bajaji, popular covered three-wheeled cabs.
The tallest building in the capital is the Anglican Tower, a 14-story building reaching 54 meters in height. In addition to it, Dodoma has three similar office towers with 11 or 12 storeys. Otherwise, the city is pleasing in the fact that it does not overhang you. Dodoma feels open and welcoming, giving a feeling of almost provincial peace in the depths of the African continent. This is in stark contrast to Dar es Salaam, which is perpetually jammed with traffic and churning out skyscrapers one after the other.
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.