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Sleepy Pangani town may not look like much today. But, in its mid 19th-century heyday, it was a terminus of the caravan route from Lake Tanganyika, a major export point for slaves and ivory, and one of the largest ports between the city of Bagamoyo and Mombasa, Kenya. In the old part of town, near the Pangani River, a few buildings from the German colonial era and old houses of Indian traders bear cobwebbed witness to this part of history. In addition to its historical appeal, Pangani is a convenient jumping-off point for many other nearby attractions. Fine, palm-fringed beaches run for kilometres north and south of town. Zanzibar Island, visible on clear days across the channel, is a short flight or boat ride away, and Saadani National Park, a two-hour's drive south, makes for an easy overnight excursion. An hour's drive north of Pangani are the Tongoni ruins, which include the largest collection of Shirazi pillar-style tombs (most dating to the 14th or 15th Centuries) on the East African coast.

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© 2012 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Tanzania without the crowds’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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