Public Transport in Tanzania: The ‘Dale Dale’

A quick and cheap way of getting around, if you don't mind death-defying driving, sardine-like people-packing or being handed a child/chicken to hold on your lap for the entire journey. A ‘Dale Dale' ( dar-lay dar-lay) is a minibus taken to various stops in and out of town. A 20 minute ride costs about 30p.

Your best chances of catching a ride is to find the nearest ‘station', as it were – a sort of large gathering zone where many start their routes. It basically looks like a large herd of white minivans surrounded by drivers shouting and packing as many people into their vans as they can possibly hold.

The first thing to note is that the locals take their people-cramming skills to a serious level. The other issue is the stops: seeing where you are, or where to get off, can be difficult through the narrow windows. Furthermore, with the sheer kamikaze speed that the van hurtles at one can only usually only make out blurs of browns and greens dotted with the colours of vintage coca cola signs, the goods of street vendors and the bright clashes of Masai clothes. So long as you ask for your stop if you're not sure, or go with someone who knows their way around, its pretty easy. Most vans are run by two men: the driver and the money collector, and if you're crammed in behind the front seats there is a standard passing forward of money that becomes a very routine procedure after your first few rides.

The overall point is that it's efficient on most levels and, aside from the dangers of capsizing (though there's enough people crammed in to create a human airbag), it's safe, in the daytime and in numbers. So if you're looking for a cheap, convenient and social mode of transport – and by social I mean standing for up to twenty minutes with a stranger's bottom millimetres from your face – then the ‘Dale Dale' is for you.

Article and Illustration: Alice Hopkins


A quick and cheap way of getting around, if you don’t mind death-defying driving, sardine-like people-packing or being handed a child/chicken to hold on your lap for the entire journey. A ‘Dale Dale’ ( dar-lay dar-lay) is a minibus taken to various stops in and out of town. A 20 minute ride costs about 30p.

Your best chances of catching a ride is to find the nearest ‘station’, as it were – a sort of large gathering zone where many start their routes. It basically looks like a large herd of white minivans surrounded by drivers shouting and packing as many people into their vans as they can possibly hold.

The first thing to note is that the locals take their people-cramming skills to a serious level. The other issue is the stops: seeing where you are, or where to get off, can be difficult through the narrow windows. Furthermore, with the sheer kamikaze speed that the van hurtles at one can only usually only make out blurs of browns and greens dotted with the colours of vintage coca cola signs, the goods of street vendors and the bright clashes of Masai clothes. So long as you ask for your stop if you’re not sure, or go with someone who knows their way around, its pretty easy. Most vans are run by two men: the driver and the money collector, and if you’re crammed in behind the front seats there is a standard passing forward of money that becomes a very routine procedure after your first few rides.

The overall point is that it’s efficient on most levels and, aside from the dangers of capsizing (though there’s enough people crammed in to create a human airbag), it’s safe, in the daytime and in numbers. So if you’re looking for a cheap, convenient and social mode of transport – and by social I mean standing for up to twenty minutes with a stranger’s bottom millimetres from your face – then the ‘Dale Dale’ is for you.

Article and Illustration: Alice Hopkins