Kilwa & Swahili Coast
About Kilwa – Tanzania
The town of Kilwa as such is divided into three different towns -Kilwa Kivinje, Kilwa Masoko and Kilwa Kisiwani. Kilwa Masoko is the most developed town and the regional hub whilst Kilwa Kivinje and Kilwa Kisiwani have spectacular historical attractions.
Some of wealth of Kilwa came from the trade in ivory and other slaves, but the most important commodity was gold. Gold was mined near city of Zimbabwe and taken to Sofala (known as Beira today). From here it was shipped up the coast via Kilwa. There was also an overland route from Kilwa to Lake Nyasa and the Zambezi River but this was less important. In the thirteenth century the sultans of Kilwa gained control of Sofala.
Kilwa had its own mint and was the only city in sub-Saharan Africa to issue coins. In 1332 Kilwa was visited by Ibn Battuta who deemed it ‘a beautiful and well constructed town’. The fabled wealth of Kilwa was mentioned by Milton in ‘Paradise Lost’ where it is named ‘Quiloa’.
Kilwa today is most famous for its spectacular ruins. The extensive palaces, mosques, fort and settlements at Kilwa Kiswani and Songo Mnara island are being restored by the French and are by far the best preserved relics of the pre colonial era in Tanzania.
Activities in Kilwa
In addition to visiting the ruins at Kilwa Kisiwani there are several other enjoyable excursions in the vicinity.
=>There are some good snorkelling and diving sites close to Kilwa Masoko Bay.
=>The mangrove forests along this section of coastline provide fantastic birding expeditions which are conducted sailing by dhow or powerboat.
=>Kilwa is world famous for some of the best Big Game Fishing grounds along the East African Coast.
Fully equipped big game fishing vessels are available with expert crews.
A full- day trip into the Matumbi Hills can be arranged to visit the Matumbi cave complex. The caves were used as a hide- out during the 1905 to 1907 Maji Maji Uprising. The caves are however now used as a place of worship.