Tanzania boasts a variety of unforgettable experiences and the best way to hang on to these memories is to get some unique souvenirs when going back home. Whether authentic, hand-made or precious – for your loved one or yourself, these unique gift items will give you something to treasure for a long time after you have arrived back home.
From Stone Town in Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam, there are several places where you can shop for authentic gifts you will always cherish. In fact, shopping is one of the best ways to explore the country. You can explore the local markets in the major cities or even stop at the sidewalk curio shops where you will see a variety of items such as arts and crafts, handmade jewellery, precious stones, basket wares, salad bowls, decorated gourds and cushion bags. Let’s take a look at some of the items you can buy in Tanzania and bring home along with you.
Take home authentic Maasai handmade crafts like wood carving, woven baskets, colorful fabrics, and jewelry. A favourite souvenir to pick up is the Maasai jewellery, usually made of colourful beads. You’ll find them in bracelets, necklaces, and footwear. The thumb rule is to haggle for a price that you can afford to buy a particular item. The airport and hotel’s shops can be a little expensive, but you can find affordable Maasai crafts at the local markets and Maasai villages.
Khangas (kangas) are beautiful sarong-like pieces of cloth with Swahili sayings and messages of love embedded at the bottom. They are mostly worn by women in Tanzania and East Africa. You’ll find Kangas at the local markets across Tanzania. If you are in Dar, you can buy kangas at the Kariakoo market, around the south end of Jamhuri St, or Uhuru St. in the Mnazi Mmoja district near Kariakoo. You can go to the market with a local who is familiar with kangas to get it at an affordable rate.
If you love paintings, you will be fascinated by the Tinga-Tinga paintings. These fantastic local paintings are found in the alley off of Haille Selassie Road on the Peninsula or at the Slipway market.
When in Arusha, you can purchase authentic and unique handcrafted leather items such as wallets, shoes, handbags, belts and more. The items are 100% pure leathers made with locally sourced raw materials.
The Mwenge Carvers’ Market is where you can buy first handmade crafts in Dar. You can watch artists make astonishing crafts. Handmade carvings are sold in the local markets throughout Tanzania. The sheer volume of similar crafts sold in many stalls can be confusing, but you can meet any of the local artists to produce a customized craft for you.
There are several companies and shops in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, and Arusha, which specializes and features furniture pieces made with old wood materials including woods used in making dhow boats. Zamani Dhow Furniture and Nzito Furniture are some of the best places to purchase unique pieces of Swahili furniture made from old abandoned dhow woods such as tables, chairs, and cabinets.
When it comes to purchasing this expensive gemstone, Tanzanite, you can visit Arusha where it is sold cheaply because it is mined there. Tanzanite can only be found in Tanzania, making it a unique souvenir for friends and families at home. If you are not familiar with the gems, you can make your purchase from some reputable shops in the country.
Schwari stores in Arusha and Dar es Salaam offers a wide range of locally-made items such as handbags, pouches, clothing, jewelries, boots and flats, beach wears, and scarfs. There is a craft shop at the Boma museum, where you have an assortment of crafts and gifts items such as scarves, wraps, notepads, books, fabric-hanging storage, and soft toys. Items like candles, soap, lip balm and honey wine are also some of the things you can buy in Tanzania.
This history and culture of Zanzibar makes it a great place for hunting for artefacts; antique Persian and Arab style furniture, old clocks, marine and ship decorations and carvings, intricate wood carvings, wooden door frames, exquisitely designed, ornate lights and chandeliers fit for royals. The Cultural Art Centre in Stone Town has a shop where you can buy stunning traditional and contemporary paintings, craftware items, wooden animals as well as tinga tinga art. Most of the handmade crafts are made by local handicraft cooperatives in Zanzibar. Other shops to visit in Zanzibar include Moto & Dada Shop, Zanzibar Curio Shop, Hellen’s Shop, Surti & Sons.
The cultural centre, Cultural Heritage located on the outskirts of Arusha boasts a variety of curio shops, art gallery, jewellery boutique, and a bargain centre where you can purchase some ornaments, antiques, jewellery, local crafts, quality clothing as well as precious stones such as emeralds, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and opals.