Dar Es Salaam Fish Market – Tanzania’s Most Thrilling Auction!

By Mark Wiens 30 Comments

We arrived at the Kivukoni Fish Market in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania at about 6:30 am. Things were just getting underway, even the Home Boys were just beginning to offload their catch of the night.  The market was already beginning to buzz with life!

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

As soon as the sun made it’s appearance over the harbor, Dar Es Salaam Fish Market instantly became more lively.

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People poured through the gates of the market, ready to throw down their money at one of the many fish auction tables.  By 7 am, the market was blanketed with organized chaos.

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Groups huddled around fish auction tables, depending on the size and type of fish they intended to bid on.

Fish Auction Dar es Salaam

fish-market-tanzania

After the fish auctioneer finished making a sale, sometimes there were raised voices, sometimes including a disagreement (see hand below?)

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kivukoni-fish-dar-es-salaam

As the sun continued to rise over the bay, heating things up for the day, the Dar Es Salaam fish market continued to flare.

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kivukoni-fish-market

dar-fish-auction

auction-fish-dar

dar-buying-fish

dar-es-salaam-fish-market

The Dar Es Salaam fish market consists of a rowdy exciting fish auction as well as a calmer side where vendors sell their catch throughout the day.  The calmer side makes it a little easier to make a purchase.  We chose a 7 kg Red Snapper for 6000 TSH / kg.

red-snapper-dar

He sharpened his panga (machete) on the side of the concrete floor, preparing to fillet our freshly caught delicacy.

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Within 5 minutes we had Red Snapper steaks and we were ready to head back home, excited for dinner!

fillet-dar-es-salaam

How to Get There: Dar Es Salaam Fish Market

(Kivukoni Fish Market)

Dar Es Salaam fish market is located right next to downtown Dar Es Salaam, on Ocean Road, adjacent to the Kigamboni Ferry pier.  It’s not far to walk there from downtown or take a taxi.  If you drive a car, there is secure parking right across the street, at the grounds of the seashell and fresh market.

Dar Es Salaam fish market starts daily at dawn.  To see the fish auction, be there by 7 am.

HINT: There is an office located on the second story of the main market building.  Head up the stairs to enjoy an incredible view of the entire market and auction, and take a few photos!

Note: It’s a safe market to visit, but as with any crowded place, be careful with your belongings.



30 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Florence jovinary

    11 months ago

    I DO LIKE DAR ES SALAAM FISH MARKET BECAUSE IT SAVES LIFE FOR MANY PEOPLE LIVING IN DAR CITY AT THE SAME TIME BRINGING FOREIGN CURRENT INTO OUR COUNTRY

    • benard kaitira

      11 months ago

      Dar es salaam fish market is like our home protein, but it challenged by varies factors like poor fishing tool and gear, poor storage facilities, so government should put the intensively energy to support the area and if possible they should put under central government and not municipal as now.

    • Zephania Daggaa

      1 month ago

      I absolutely agree with you

    • Shayo Beatus

      4 weeks ago

      Ooh Exactly

  • Delmar

    3 years ago

    Does the fish market also happen on Sunday? Thanks for this info.
    By the way, are you related to someone named Charles Wiens. He’s a cellist…and used to play in the Charlotte Symphony many years ago!

  • Raymond Pereira

    5 years ago

    A great job Mark!
    I was born in Dar. This is a fantastic presentation,
    Thank you.

  • Mark Wiens

    6 years ago

    @Rebecca: Thanks for the comment! Actually, there are barely any tourists that venture to the Dar fish market! Kind of nice and as of now, they don’t really have to worry about tourists getting in the way!

    @Joshy: Hehe, Thanks for the comment man! I’m sure the Homeboys would take us on a thrilling fishing trip!

  • joshywashington

    6 years ago

    Fantastic photos! Your birds eye view of the fish mongering are rad. I want to sail with the “Homeboys”…

  • Rebecca

    6 years ago

    It looks nuts – love it! I’ve been to the Tsujiki Fish Market in Tokyo and they have issues with tourists walking through the place and getting in the way. Are there any issues like that at the Dar Es Salaam market?

  • Eating Thai Food

    6 years ago

    That fish appears to have been a good luck red snapper. Bringing you good fortune for the year to come. haha 🙂

  • Mark Wiens

    6 years ago

    @Glen: Thanks!

    @Natalie: Yes, everyone (except for myself) were busy with a certain job with determination, so though it was crazy, they were somewhat organized!

    @Amy: Thanks Amy, yes, I also prefer taking shots of ordinary day scenes, opposed to tourist attractions!

    @Siddhartha: Yes, there happens to be a balcony (there are some offices upstairs) with a convenient view over the fish market – awesome!

    @Jeremy: Thanks Jeremy, Yes, many of the people who buy fish at the auction will then go back to their neighborhood market and sell it.

    @Renee: Thanks Renee! Yah, it is definitely a different way of selling things. Part of the reason it’s an auction at a lively market is because people are getting extremely good deals on the fish they purchase. A lot of the people buying will then take their fish back to their neighborhood and sell it in their local market…a little more similar to a grocery store!

    @Ayngelina: Yes, intense is a good word for this market, I was enthralled!

    @Todd: Yes Todd, I do agree, and love going to get fresh fish from the market! Fish barbecues are 1 of my favorite things in life!

    @Adam: The snapper was awesome!

    @Inka: Hehe, I was surfing the internet…as my Mom cooked the snapper! It was stunning…!

    @Jozef: Yes, Dar fish market has an incredible atmosphere!

  • Jozef Maxted

    6 years ago

    Wow that is a busy market! I love bustling markets, theres alway a great atmosphere about them.

  • inka

    6 years ago

    Ah, so that’s where you took a lot of your shots from. What an unbelievable crowd. Who cooked your snapper? You?

  • Adam

    6 years ago

    That looks incredible. Awesome that you were able to get so many great shots. I love markets, and something like this just looks amazing. I bet that snapper was tasty!

  • Todd | Todd’sWanderings

    6 years ago

    I love a good fish market too! Although I have to disagree with Renee in that getting a fish fresh off the boat and whole is a very different experience and taste than getting it at the store. I miss fish BBQs! Great pictures too!

  • ayngelina

    6 years ago

    I love fish markets but this one is the most intense that I’ve ever seen.

  • Renee

    6 years ago

    Wow…it really makes you think about all of the little things that you take for granted. I can walk into my local grocery store and pick up a piece of fish without giving it a second thought…the thought of having to bid on it really puts things into perspective. Thanks for sharing this with us, Mark.

    • ginna

      6 years ago

      cause people want the fish fresh from the sea. some people go put it in the freezer for sale later for people who do not want the trouble of waking up early. the auction continues through out the day though.

  • Jeremy B

    6 years ago

    Wow, hard to believe that fish is that popular to have that many people up that early! Can’t imagine that going on in many places here in the US! Just another fascinating insight on cultural differences – through fish!

  • Siddhartha Joshi

    6 years ago

    This is very interesting…you managed to be somewhere on top all this while?

    The dead fish look rather sad 🙁

  • Amy

    6 years ago

    Great images! I love seeing snap shots of every day life – so much better than the typical touristy things!

  • Natalie – Turkish Travel blog

    6 years ago

    I think you termed it right when you said organized chaos! Definitely an experience though.

  • Glen

    6 years ago

    Love the photos!