Brought to you by Pilot Productions - producers of addictive travel, history and food shows that explore unforgettable destinations around the planet.

Presenter : Zay Harding

Tough Boats of Tanzania

In this programme host Zay Harding travels on board some of Africa’s toughest and most historic boats as he explores the spectacular East African country of Tanzania.

Passengers disembarking the Liemba

Passengers disembarking the Liemba

Starting his journey at the southern end of Lake Tanganyika, the world’s largest freshwater lake, Zay travels north for over 300 miles on the extraordinary ‘Liemba’, which is not only said to be the world’s oldest surviving passenger ferry, but also has an incredible wartime history. The imposing 230 foot long ship, originally named the Graf von Goetzen, was built in 1913, when Tanzania was part of colonial German East Africa. At the start of WWI in 1914, the ship was converted into a warship, fitted with powerful guns to fight ships from nearby British and Belgian colonies. In 1916, however, the ship’s German commanders were forced to scuttle it in order to prevent its capture by the British or Belgians. The location of the sunken ship was soon discovered, and when the war ended in 1918, the British and Belgians attempted to lift it up from the lake bed. In 1924 it was finally raised to the surface, and astonishingly, despite being underwater for 8 years, was in good enough condition to be placed back into service as a passenger ship. Today, a century on, it continues to provide a vital service ferrying hundreds of local Tanzanians up and down the lake. After a fantastically enjoyable two-day journey aboard the Liemba, stopping at remote villages along the way, Zay disembarks at Kigoma, towards the northern end of Lake Tanganyika.

Heading on from there in a ‘lake taxi’, that is a small overcrowded open boat carrying over 100 villagers together – Zay reaches Gombe Stream National Park, where he goes trekking through the forest in search of wild chimpanzees. Zay’s luck is in, and he has a rare and remarkable encounter at close quarters with an extended family group of over 20 chimpanzees. 150 years ago, the central African region around Lake Tanganyika was a main location where slaves were captured, an estimated 1.5 million of whom were force-marched over 750 miles to the coast of the Indian Ocean, before being shipped by dhow to the slave market on the island of Zanzibar off the Tanzanian coast.

Chimpanzee at Gombe Stream National Park

Chimpanzee at Gombe Stream National Park

For the last part of his journey Zay follows this tragic and traumatic trail, sailing on a traditional working dhow trading goods to Zanzibar. Traders have sailed the Indian Ocean for thousands of years in these tough and historic boats, whose design has barely changed since the days they carried slaves. The ocean crossing by dhow is a spectacular though poignant end to Zay’s once-in-a-lifetime Tanzanian adventure.



With special thanks to:



With thanks to:








Zanzibar Recipes - Ceviche


Watch Bobby preparing this fresh and zingy seafood dish here:
(Courtesy of Director Ian Sciacaluga)


  • Fish (Grouper)
  • 2 onions
  • 3 bell peppers
  • limes
  • coconuts
  • pamelo


  1. Cut grouper thin to marinate quickly.
  2. Citric acid of the lime which actually cooks the fish by a process called denaturation.
  3. Leave for 5-10 minutes, then onions.
  4. Chop the onions and sprinkle them in.
  5. Let them mix with the juice.
  6. Add 3 bell peppers, but also apply the pomelo to cut the acidity (Tip: Pomelo is a mildly sweet grapefruit from South East Asia).
  7. Add in grated coconut, but be sure to drain the juice.
  8. Lastly, peel off the outer layer of the nutmeg, which in itself is a tasty spice called mace.
  9. Mix it about a bit, and the ceviche is ready!

Zanzibar Recipes - Chicken Pilau

Chicken Pilau is a perennial favourite and served on special occasions. Pilau is a rice-based dish of Indian origin that has been adopted by Kenyans as their own. Many people serve Pilau at their weddings or prepare it when they have special guests coming to visit. It is traditionally served with a fresh and spicy salad called Kachumber or the Swahili Kachumbari.

Ingredients for Chicken Pilau

For the Chicken:

  • 1 chicken cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • I 1in piece of cinnamon
  • 4 peppercorns
  • a little salt
  • In a saucepan add the above ingredients and cook for about 10 mins.  Switch the cooker off and cover.

For the Pilau:

2 cups Basmati Rice washed and soaked for 20 mins
1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 3 cardamom pods 
  • 4 cloves 
  • 6 peppercorns 
  • 3 2 inch cinnamon sticks 

In a cup soak the above five ingredients in half a cup of water for 15 mins. 

  • 2 medium onions sliced 
  • 2 green chillies de seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
  • 1 tsp ginger 
  • 1 tsp garlic 
  • 1 tsp garam masala 
  • 4 tbsp oil 
  • 3-4 potatoes peeled and cut into quarters 
  • 3 mugs of basmati rice washed and soaked for 20 mins 
  • 5 mugs water 
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a saucepan add the above ingredients for the chicken with 4 tbs of water and cook on a medium heat for about 10 mins.  Switch the cooker off and cover with a lid.
  2. In a pan heat the oil on medium heat.
  3. Drain and add the whole spices that have been soaked.
  4. Add the sliced onions and fry.
  5. Add the green chillies to the onions when they have softened slightly.
  6. Continue frying the onions until they start to lightly brown.
  7. Add the ginger, garlic and garam masala.
  8. Add the potatoes and let them cook for a few minutes.
  9. Add the chicken and any liquid that has collected in the pot.
  10. Add the water and bring to the boil.
  11. Add the drained rice.
  12. Check and adjust seasoning.
  13. Cover and cook on a medium heat for approx 10 minutes.
  14. When all the liquid is absorbed in the rice, reduce heat completely.
  15. Cover and let the pilau cook for half an hour more.
  16. Serve with a raita and Kachumber salad (details below)

Ingredients for the Kachumber:


  • 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 small green chilli deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Chop all the ingredients into bite-size chunks
  2. Mix everything in a bowl, season, then cover and chill until needed.

Places Mentioned - Tanzania

Share the series

Destination Guides


View Destination Guide



View Destination Guide


dar es salaam

Tanzania and Zanzibar: Locations

Dār as-Salām, literally 'the residence of peace'; or simply Dar, (formerly Mzizima) is the largest city of Tanzania and the largest city in eastern Africa by...

Read Article
Betel Nut

Foods from around the World: Betel Nut

Betel Nut chewing is a tradition which dates back thousands of years. The bitter poultice is an acquired taste, and although it's not clear why the people of...

Read Article
dar es salaam

Tanzania and Zanzibar: Locations

Dār as-Salām, literally 'the residence of peace'; or simply Dar, (formerly Mzizima) is the largest city of Tanzania and the largest city in eastern Africa by...

Read Article