The Old customs house of Bagamoyo is one of the many historical buildings that are located inside the Old town conservation area of Bagamoyo – Tanzania. It has two buildings, on opposite ends of a rectangular compound, one of which is at the compound’s southern end and the other at the northern end. The northern building is well maintained and is still in use today, with a lot of added renovations, while the southern building has seen its roof and several walls collapse.
The northern building serves as an office for the Tanzania Revenue Authority, or a customs house for monitoring any shipment of goods done by dhows headed to Zanzibar from Bagamoyo. Most of these can be seen parked in front of the buildings at low tide.
History of the placeIt was built by the Germans in 1895 with the purpose of storing cargo and produce that was obtained from inland Tanganyika, such as elephant tusks until a ship arrived to transport them overseas. Before the Germans, the area was being used by Arab slave traders, with another much older building in its place. The wall was not present during this time and the slaves would wait in this area for the high tide when they would board a ship for the Zanzibar slave market or other foreign countries.
What to do there?The tour does not allow access into the building, most of the time you’ll only be allowed to view it from outside the compound. The compound is currently being used by a small shipping company but the actual building (shown in photo above) is not. Other than that, enjoy the scenery of the Indian ocean and the dhow harbour nearby. At high tide, you may get to see the fishermen work on their boats or bring their catches ashore to the fish market nearby.
Location of Old customs houseThe Old Customs house of Bagamoyo is located right next to the beach, the fish market and the dhow harbour in Old town Bagamoyo – Tanzania. It is also on the East African coast, just 80 kilometres north of Dar es Salaam. For more information on its location please see the map below (click to start).
How to get there?From the Bagamoyo town centre, or conservation area, first head to the German Boma, then from there the customs house is located downhill, at the end of a short dirt road that ends at the shore.