Dreamy spots and beautiful sandy beaches!

The coastal towns are surrounded by greenery, surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean.

From Kilwa Masoko, the boats depart for the ruins of the Arab settlements at Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara.


  • Surface area Kilwa District 13.960 km2
  • Residents Kilwa District 175.000
  • spring rainy seasonMarch-April
  • autumn rain seasonDecember

About Kilwa

Halfway between Dar es Salaam and Mtwara, Kilwa Masoko is the starting point for stately witnesses from a glorious past.

Culture & products in Kilwa

Kilwa is a sparsely populated area, of great cultural-historical value.

Culture
The Kilwa District has been around for over a thousand years. The small island of Kilwa Kisiwani, which is about 1 km from the mainland, was once the largest city on the East African coast. Shirazi Arabs settled there in the 9th century and created a city.

Population
Most people in the Kilwa District live in houses built in the traditional way of wooden posts and mud, with a grass roof. They get their water from an unprotected well and use a pit latrine. Their house is lit at night by an oil lamp made from an old tin. Only 47% of the people are literate. Many young people move to the city for their education and work. Most of the residents are Muslim, a legacy of the long history of Islamic traders.

Products
Kilwa has an abundance of natural resources. More than 90% of the working population is farmers or fishermen.
Farmers rely on traditional tools and methods. Most of the harvest is for your own consumption. The main crops grown for local consumption are cassava, maize, kafir corn and rice. Sesame, oranges, coconuts and cashew nuts are grown for export. Charcoal is also sold to residents in Dar es Salaam and wood carvings to tourists.
Fishermen catch for themselves and deliver fish, lobsters, seaweed and seashells for export.

Climate & season

Kilwa has a tropical climate with a wet and a dry period. Kilwa can be visited all year round.

December to April:
The most rain falls during this period. This mainly means a tropical shower in the morning and sometimes at night. The temperature in this period is quite high (up to 31 degrees during the day and 24 degrees at night).

May:
There is little rain. The temperature has dropped slightly to an average of 27 degrees during the day.

June to October:
There is virtually no rainfall. The temperature drops further to an average of 25 degrees during the day, the ‘coolest’ period.

November:
The probability of precipitation increases slightly again, as does the temperature (up to 32 degrees during the day).

Interesting facts

1. Kilwa refers to Kilwa Kisiwani, located in the Kilwa District, part of the Lindi Region. In the Kilwa District you also have Kilwa Kivinje, Kilwa Kisiwani, Lindi and Songa Mnara Island. But also Songo Songo Island, the place from which you leave for Fanjove Island.

2. The Kilwa District is bordered to the east by the Indian Ocean and to the west by Nyerere National Park in Selous Game Reserve. The district has 93 villages.

3. The buildings on Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara islands are built with coral stone mixed with limestone, which has made the architecture beautiful and stable to survive the weather for centuries.

4. Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara are exceptional witnesses to the expansion of Swahili coastal culture, the Islamization of East Africa and the extraordinarily extensive and prosperous Indian Ocean trade from the Middle Ages to modern times.

5. The Portuguese Fort on Kilwa Kisiwani was built in 1505 by the soldiers of the army of the Viceroy of Portuguese India, Francisco de Almeida, to control the spice trade and secure their monopoly.

6. Kilwa is known for its witchcraft. Many people turn to witchcraft when they have a serious illness or a dispute.

Activities

Kilwa is home to the rich and impressive history of the East African coast …

KilwaKilwaKilwaKilwaKilwaKilwa

Masoko Pwani

Idyllic, unspoilt, quiet and clean. Masoko Pwani is the beautiful palm-fringed coast on the Indian Ocean.

Masoko Pwani beach is located 5 km northeast of Kilwa Masoko. The best way to do this is by bicycle or a TukTuk (Bajaji in Swahili) from Kilwa Masoko.
Especially at the end of the afternoon, this colorful area is also the place where the fish for Kilwa Masoko is traded.

Kilwa Kisiwani

Kilwa Kisiwani is the former Islamic city-state, located on an island off the coast of Kilwa Masoko. The city was founded in the 10th century by settlers from Arabia and Persia (now Iran). It became one of the most commercial centers on the east coast of Africa.

Kilwa Kisiwani is the most important historical site in the South of Tanzania. Here are the best preserved buildings from the golden age of Swahili culture. The ancient Swahili ruins have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

The island experienced its prosperity from controlling Indian Ocean trade with Arabia, India, and China between the 13th and 16th centuries, when gold and ivory from mainland Tanzania and Congo were traded for silver, carnelian, perfumes, Persian pottery and Chinese porcelain. The Husuni Kuwa palace dates from the 13th / 14th century.

Most attractive are the mosques built in the 13th and 18th centuries, and a Portuguese fortress from 1505. The Great Mosque of Kilwa was the largest mosque of its kind in East Africa. According to the great Muslim traveler Ibn-Battuta, who visited and stayed at Kilwa Kisiwani between 1331 and 1332, the island was one of the most beautiful cities in the world at the time. From the 11th to 14th century, Kilwa Kisiwani even minted its own coin.

The decline begins with the domination by the Portuguese (1505-1512) that kept Kilwa Kisiwani short. A Portuguese fort was built to punish rebellious Africans who opposed their occupation on the east coast. But the importance of Kilwa Kisiwani waned and eventually deserted. The Portuguese fort was later also used as a garrison by the Arabs and Germans.

Trade resumed in the 18th century when Omani Arabs settled on Kilwa Kisiwani. The renewed prosperity came from the slave trade, the rice, chewing gum and tobacco trade.

Songo Mnara

The island of the port city of Songo Mnara is located 8km south of Kilwa Kisiwani and is also called its twin island. The UNESCO World Heritage rating applies to both islands, and because of their rich history and Swahili cultural heritage, it is mixed with African and Arab cultures.

The ruins of Songo Mnara, on the north side of the island, consist of the remains of five mosques, a palace complex and about thirty-three walled dwellings made of coral stones and wood.

Kipatimu caves

The Kipatimu caves are unique. Fascinating limestone formations, sculpted by nature over the centuries and in many colors. They have been inhabited by humans for thousands of years, long before humans started building houses above the ground.

In addition to housing early humans on Earth, these caves were a haven for local residents (Matumbi) during infamous tribal wars against Germans that rocked all of southern Tanzania over 100 years ago. The caves are miles long, interconnected and can house thousands (4000 – 5000) people. A thick natural forest covers the topsoil.

Now these caves are home to millions of bats that are there during the day, as well as snakes and other nocturnal animals. But as a miracle beneath the earth, these caves (Nang’oma cave and the larger Lihimalyao cave) are well worth a visit.

Kilwa Kivinje

The quiet town of Kilwa Kivinje became the terminus of the southern slave caravan in the early 1800s. The mainland port of Kilwa Kivinje is a wide sandy port, which is still an ideal landing beach for wooden boats. By 1850, Kivinje had grown into a settlement of 12-15,000 inhabitants, including many wealthy families of Indian descent, and the regional center of the slave trade. Towards the end of the 19th century, Kilwa Kivinje became the German administrative center. With the abolition of the slave trade and German wartime defeats, Kilwa Kivinje’s short heyday came to an end.

Kilwa Kivinje is now a small atmospheric village with a Swahili village feel and an intriguing mix of German colonial and Omani Arab architecture.

Lindi

Lindi is located on the Indian Ocean. Once upon a time, Lindi belonged to the Sultan of Zanzibar and was the end point of the slave caravan route from Lake Nyasa. At the time, Lindi was the most important city in the region.

Lindi is now a lively and fun place to wander. Some attractions include the small but bustling dhow harbor, the beautifully carved doors and some ruins from its prosperous past.

Animals in the area

Kilwa District is located on the coast and is home to many marine life. In the west there are also moose, hartebeest and elephants ..

Common animals include various types of tropical fish, dolphins, dugongs and giant tortoises.

Click here for the wildlife overview

Dieren overzicht Kilwa

  • Doejong (zeekoe)
  • Dolphin
  • Elephant
  • Fish
  • Hartebeest
  • Moose
  • Sea turtle

Imagining yourself in Kilwa yet?

Have a look at the example trips – like Swahili South East Coast –  that can be customized to your specific preferences or contact us directly!

example trips trip advice

Accommodation in Kilwa

Are you looking for the best spot in the wider area?
This lodge is attractive, comfortable, small-scale and quietly located between palm trees on the coast.

Kilwa Beach Lodge

Kilwa, East Tanzania
Cozy lodge
€ 30 to € 45 pppn (board & lodging)

Kimbilio Lodge

Kilwa, East Tanzania
Cozy lodge
€ 50 to € 55 pppn (lodging & breakfast)