Set inside an almost circular, mangrove-lined harbour some 11km by road before Mtwara, Mikindani is home to fifteen thousand people, for whom the sea is their livelihood. The peaceful, almost languid atmosphere belies a brutal past, when the town was one of the coast’s major seaports for ivory – and slave-carrying caravans. Mikindani’s stone buildings, many in ruins, are eloquent and picturesque reminders of those darker but more prosperous times, while sandy beaches on the far side of the harbour, a wide choice of excusions, a scuba diving school, and one of southern Tanzania’s most beautiful hotels make it a great place to get away from it all.
The German Boma
On the hill behind the village, the German Boma has been sensitively restored and beautifully converted into the luxurious Old Boma Hotel. Built in 1895 as the seat of the German colonial administration, the single-towered limewashed building is the town’s most distinctive and attractive landmark, combining German, Arab and Swahili architectural elements. Visitors are welcome to look around – on entering, check out the stunning door carvings, the work of Gulum Dosa, who also carved the mosque’s doorway. Inside is a cool courtyard, with rooms arranged around it on two floors. one corner of the building has a three-storey tower with crenellated battlements, resembling an Andalusian minaret. The gardens surrounding the Boma are attractive too, with colourful fragipani and flame trees providing shade and shelter for blue monkeys.
Mikindani’s hotels are useful sources of information, especially The Old Boma Hotel, which has dozens of useful sheets covering attractions here and elsewhere in the region. Trade Aid, the British NGO running the hotel, is involved in education, and the preservation of the village’s historic buildings.
Set inside the beautifully restored German Boma above the village, this is Southern Tanzania’s best hotel by miles, with bags of atmosphere and outstanding accommodation, and a wide range of activities and excursions. There’s also a sophisticated restaurant and bar, wi-fi in the reception, and a swimming pool. The eight high-ceilinged rooms, some with balconies, have large timber beds and are decorated with local handicrafts, and no TVs! Two rooms (now four) have a/c; thick walls, sea breezes and ceiling fans keep things cool in others. It’s worth spending a little more for a view.
Eating and Drinking
Consistently delicious and inventive cooking, always with a decent selection of vegetable soups, unbeatably fresh salads and herbs from their own garden, and fresh seafood, including prawns. Eat under parasols or trees, by the pool or on a private terrace. Diners can also use the pool. There’s also a bar.
The hotel shop sells a good selection of unusual arts and crafts that have been sourced from a variety of self-help projects in southern Tanzania.