Photo Mixtape No. 7

Trading urbanism for tranquility in Tanzania

Categories: Inspirations — Mike Dillingham

Dar es Salaam had been on my bucket list for seven years. Though it’s not known for splashy tourist attractions, some well-traveled friends described the city as having extraordinary character that survived colonialism, and a bit of a balmy climate. Intrigued, my girlfriend Talia and I made plans and set out to experience it for ourselves.

Other parts of Tanzania are overflowing with marquee tourism—like Zanzibar, and the most popular safari circuits anywhere. And while it was tempting to front being above such “touristy” things, the chance to see wild animals—you know, in the wild—shed any remaining pretensions.

What we experienced is difficult to put into words—the photos don’t do it justice. We visited the Kivukoni fish market, and followed fishermen in tidal pools during a rainstorm at dawn. We witnessed the great wildebeest migration of the southern Serengeti, and stared into the eyes of a lioness from 10 feet away. The scenery from safari swept us off our feet.

This trip demonstrated how much of my normal day-to-day is spent insulated by urban infrastructure. My time is spent in environments made of concrete, glass, and steel—no plants, not even dirt. The presence of nature was obvious on safari or a fishing boat. But what surprised me was the nature held by the cities we visited—the water, seafood, coal fires, and lush vegetation.

I returned home completely moved, and inspired to take back control of my own environment. Tanzania helped me realize how important a connection to nature is. Our time spent immersed in a bustling culture and the awe-inspiring outdoors has fueled my drive to transform our backyard into a lush, tranquil place to go back to basics and recharge—a retreat within an otherwise urban environment.

Women in traditional wraps on a beach People walking through shallow water at the beach Many colorful starfish Photo of a woman in an alley A large crowd at the market Man cooking at the market Close-up of many people crowded together at the market Split photo. Left, an intricate door. Right, people sitting on stairs outdoors. People walking down an alley, away from the camera Flags hanging between buildings An open field mid-day Close-up shot of a lionness Misty forest Close-up shot of an elephant Several elephants roaming an open field Dark clouds over a beach
Mike Dillingham is an Experience Designer at Airbnb. He’s behind schedule on his plan to see the entire world.

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