Lighthouses of Tanzania

Located on the east coast of Africa, the nation of Tanzania was formed by a merger of two dissimilar British colonies, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Tanganyika, which included all the mainland of the present country and also Mafia Island, was a German colony (German East Africa) until it was captured by British troops in World War I. Zanzibar, which includes the islands of Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba, has a long history as an Arab outpost on the African coast. It was also the site of a Portuguese trading post throughout most of the 16th and 17th centuries, until the Sultan of Oman drove the Portuguese out in 1698. Zanzibar was placed under a British protectorate beginning in 1890, but it continued to be governed more or less autonomously as a sultanate. As a result, the lighthouses of Zanzibar are of indigenous Arab design rather than British colonial.

In Swahili, the common language of the Tanzanian coast, the word for a lighthouse is mnarani (a word related to the Arabic manara). The Arabic word ras is used for a cape.

Lighthouses in Tanzania are operated by the Tanzania Ports Authority.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Light List numbers are from volume D of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Lighthouses of Tanzania in Danger
This July 2008 article in Lighthouse Digest carried alarming reports and photos showing the lighthouses of the Tanga area abandoned and stripped by vandals.
Lighthouses in Tanzania
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Tanzania
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Afrikanische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard views posted by Klaus Huelse.

Ras Kigomasha Light
Ras Kigomasha Light, Pemba Island, August 2010
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Marcel Oosterwijk

Tanga Region Lighthouses
Ulenge Island Range Rear (Tanga Bay) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1894). Inactive, at least since 2008 but probably longer. 26 m (85 ft) square stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white with a black horizontal band. Sybille Riedmueller supplied a photo to Lighthouse Digest, Simon Attwell has a 2006 view from the sea, Rachel Dove has a 2007 photo, and Google has a satellite view. This was the only Tanga light until the range was established in 1929. Gravely endangered. Ms. Riedmueller reports that the Fresnel lens was smashed by vandals and the lantern subsequently removed. The tower itself is in dilipidated condition. Wikimedia has a historic photo of the original lighthouse taken around 1910, and Huelse has a historic postcard view. Located on Ulenge Island, a small island on the north side of the entrance to Tanga Bay. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAN-013; Admiralty D6754.1; NGA 31300.
Ulenge Island Range Front (2)
Date unknown (station established 1929). Inactive, at least since 2008 but probably longer. 15 m (49 ft) concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located 320 m (0.2 mi) southeast of the rear light. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAN-012; Admiralty D6754; NGA 31296.
Tanga Island Range Front
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); white flash every 2 s. 11 m (36 ft) white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. The range guides vessels in the channel approaching the Tanga waterfront. Located a short distance offshore, west of the Mkonge Hotel. Accessible only by boat, but easily seen from shore. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D6759.55; NGA 31316.
Tanga Island Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (36 ft); white flash every 7 s. 12 m (39 ft) white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located just offshore, 75 m (82 yd) southwest of the front light. Accessible only by boat, but easily seen from shore. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D6759.56; NGA 31316.1.
* Ras Kasone (Kazone) Range Rear
Date unknown. Inactive since 2008. 13 m (43 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower topped by a circular harbor control room, gallery, and signal mast. The light was probably displayed from the gallery. Entire lighthouse is white concrete. Hans Martin's photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. The control room has been abandoned and the tower stripped of all its equipment. Located on Ras Kasone, the cape at the entrance to Tanga harbor. Site status unknown. ex-Admiralty D6757.1; NGA 31336.

Ras Kasone Range Rear Light, Tanga, April 2009
photo copyright Hans Martin; used by permission
Tanga Entrance
Date unknown. Active(?); focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red flash every 2.5 s. 11 m (36 ft) white concrete tower. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. Located off the northeastern point of Tanga. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D6760; NGA 31312.

Pemba Island Lighthouses
**** Ras Kigomasha
1904. Active; focal plane 38 m (125 ft); flash every 55 s (!), alternately red and white. 27 m (89 ft) hexagonal cast iron skeletal tower with lantern, gallery, and central cylinder. Entire lighthouse painted white. Two 1-story keeper's houses. Marcel Ooosterwijk's photo is at at the top of this page, an October 2007 photo and a June 2010 photo are available, Peter Horton has a 2011 photo, and Google has a good satellite view. The lighthouse was prefabricated in England by Chance Brothers. Located on the northwestern tip of Pemba. Accessible by road (4WD recommended). Site open; the keeper will allow visitors to climb the tower, for a fee. ARLHS TAN-023; Admiralty D6746; NGA 31276.
Matumbi Makubwa (Matumbe Makupa)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); three white flashes every 20 s. 31 m (101 ft) square stone tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Google has a good satellite view. This lighthouse was restored in 2002-03 by Salem Construction Ltd. Located on a small island off the southwestern tip of Pemba. Accessible only by boat. Site presumably open, tower status unknown. ARLHS TAN-020; Admiralty D6751; NGA 31280.

Zanzibar Lighthouses
* Ras Makunduchi
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 44 m (144 ft); two white flashes every 15 s. 27 m (89 ft) tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Marco Prete has a 2009 photo, a distant view is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. A marine science team from Newcastle University in England visited the lighthouse in August 2012 and found it staffed and operating, but in need of paint. Their account has several photos. Located on the southeastern point of the island, near the village of Makunduchi. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS TAN-024; Admiralty D6700; NGA 31428.
Pungume Island
1919. Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white flash every 3 s. 22 m (72 ft) square tower, originally painted with black and white vertical stripes but now unpainted. A closeup and a photo taken from the sea are available, and Google has a good satellite view. The lighthouse was in poor condition at the time of these photos (2003). Pungume is a small island off the southwestern coast of Zanzibar. Located at the southern tip of the island. Accessible only by boat. ARLHS TAN-022; Admiralty D6702; NGA 31424.
**** Chumbe
1904. Active; focal plane 37 m (121 ft); white flash every 11 s. 34 m (112 ft) square 5-stage stone tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. Original 4th order Fresnel lens in use, lit by an AGA acetylene system installed in 1926. Keeper's house and a small mosque, built for the keepers, nearby. The keeper's house includes a restaurant and a small museum. Seven modern cottages provide overnight accommodations. The lighthouse, deteriorated after years of automated operation, was partially restored by Chumbe Island Coral Park, Ltd., which also operates the restaurant and cottages and offers day tours of the island and lighthouse. A photo is at right, Jeremy Newhouse has a photo, Penny Wilby has a good photo, a 2010 photo and a portfolio of photos are available, and Google has a satellite view. Lighthouse Digest has Jeremy D'Entremont's feature article on the lighthouse in connection with its 100th anniversary, celebrated in August 2004. This is easily Tanzania's best known lighthouse. Located on a small island 13 km (8 mi) southwest of Stonetown, Zanzibar's main harbor. Accessible by passenger ferry. Site open, tower open to guided tours. Site manager: Chumbe Island Coral Park. ARLHS TAN-016; Admiralty D6704; NGA 31416.
* Kiungani Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); white flash every 6 s. 13 m (43 ft) square cylindrical stone tower, painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. The front light is on a skeletal tower. Located on the west side of Nyerere Road south of Stone Town. Site open, tower status unknown. Admiralty D6706.1; NGA 31408.
Chumbe Light
Chumbe Light, Zanzibar, December 2010
Flickr Creative Commons photo by sheyneg
* Shangani (Beit-el-Ajaib, "House of Wonders") Clock Tower (2)
1924 (station established 1890s). Active; focal plane 44 m (144 ft); continuous white light. Light mounted on a mast atop a square clock tower on the front of a large palace. Entire building painted white. Munisch Bhagwanani has a 2007 closeup, Jay Green has a good photo, Nasir Fazal has posted many photos, and a Google satellite view is available. The Beit-el-Ajaib, or House of Wonders, was built by the Sultan Sayyid Barghash around 1883 as a ceremonial palace. A square clock tower and lighthouse was built in front of the palace, as seen in the postcard view posted by Huelse. In 1896, the buildings were badly damaged when British warships shelled the town during a brief dispute over the royal succession, a conflict known in Zanzibar as the Shortest War in History. When the building was rebuilt in 1899-1900, the clock tower was incorporated into the center of the front of building, creating one of Zanzibar's best known landmarks. The building has been used as a royal residence and for government offices; it is now a museum. Located on the waterfront of Stone Town. Site open, building open, but tower closed. Site manager: Zanzibar Department of Archives, Museums, and Antiquities. ARLHS TAN-026; Admiralty D6718; NGA 31384.
Marubi Palace Gardens Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 13 m (42 ft) skeletal tower mounted on a square stone tower. Entire lighthouse is white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located in the palace gardens on the north side of Stone Town. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAN-004; Admiralty D6726.1; NGA 31380.
Mangapwani (2)
1926 (station established 1886). Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 15 s. 23 m (75 ft) square tower, painted white with a red base. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on the northwest coast of the island about 25 km (15 mi) north of Stone Town. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAN-018; Admiralty D6738; NGA 31356.
Tumbatu (Mwana Wa Mwana) Island
1889. Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white flash every 10 s. 23 m (75 ft) six-stage square stone tower with lantern and gallery. The lighthouse appears to be unpainted white stone. Peppe Nesta has a photo, a view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. This not-so-well known tower is very similar to the famous Chumbe Light, but it is 15 years older. Tumbatu is a long, narrow island off the northwest coast of Zanzibar; it has several resorts, and transportation can be arranged from Stone Town or Nikokotoni. Located on an islet just off the northern tip of the island. Site probably open, tower closed. ARLHS TAN-021; Admiralty D6740; NGA 31344.
Ras Nungwi (Hog Point) (2)
1926 (station established 1881). Active; focal plane 18 m (60 ft); white flash every 5 s. 14 m (46 ft) 3-stage square tower with lantern and gallery, rising through the center of a 1-story keeper's house. Building painted white, lantern red. A photo is at right, Kevin Harber has a closeup of the tower, Henry and Tersia Claasen have a December 2008 photo, and Google has a satellite view. Zanzibar's oldest light station may be endangered: beach erosion has created a steep scarp in front of the building. The light station is adjacent to a resort, the Mnarani Beach Cottages. Located at the northern tip of Zanzibar. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS TAN-025; Admiralty D6742; NGA 31340.
Ras Nungwi Light
Ras Nungwi Light, Zanzibar, September 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by grooble

Dar Es Salaam Lighthouses
Outer Makatumbe (Dar Es Salaam Bay Range Rear)
1894. Active; focal plane 29 m (95 ft); three white flashes every 20 s; in addition an occulting white light is shown southwestward as the rear light of the Makatumbe range. 29 m (95 ft) square masonry tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Bing has a satellite view. The lighthouse appears to be a sibling of the Ras Mkumbi Light. It was refurbished as part of a harbor improvement project between 1997 and 1999. Located on a small, uninhabited island at the outer (northeastern) edge of a reef off Dar Es Salaam harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAN-004; Admiralty D6672; NGA 31432.
Oyster Bay Range Front
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); quick-flashing white light. 9 m (29 ft) round cylindrical tower centered on a circular 1-story equipment room, painted white with a red vertical stripe on the range line. A 2009 photo and a second photo are available, and Bing has a satellite view. Oyster Bay, on the north side of Dar Es Salaam, was an area of European settlement in colonial times and is now an area of beach resorts. Located on the waterfront just off Kaunda Drive. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAN-005; Admiralty D6674; NGA 31436.
* Oyster Bay Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 37 m (121 ft); quick-flashing white light. 26 m (85 ft) square stone tower with lantern, attached to the front of a red-roofed building. Tower painted white with a red vertical stripe on the range line; lantern painted red. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. We need a photo of this highly accessible lighthouse! Located on Kenyatta Drive just north of Kaunda Drive, 400 m (1/4 mi) west southwest of the front light. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS TAN-006; Admiralty D6674.1; NGA 31440.

Pwani Region Lighthouses
Ras Kanzi (2)
Date unknown (station established 1897). Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 12 m (40 ft) round hourglass-shaped white fiberglass tower, colored with red and white horizontal bands. A distant view (second thumbnail) is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located adjacent to the ruined historic lighthouse. Admiralty D6668; NGA 31484.
Ras Kanzi (1)
1897. Inactive and in ruins. Originally a 12 m (40 ft) gray square stucco-covered stone tower, attached to a keeper's house; all structures are in ruins, unroofed and collapsing. Jarle Naustvik's photo is at right, and Google has a good satellite view. Located on a promontory about 35 km (22 mi) southeast of Dar Es Salaam, marking the southern entrance to the Zanzibar Channel. Site open, tower open but dangerous. ARLHS TAN-008.
Nyororo (Niororo) Island
Date unknown (2012?). Active; focal plane about 13 m (43 ft); white flash every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) tower colored with black and white horizontal bands. No photo available, and Google has only a fuzzy satellite view of the island. Located on a small island about 25 km (15 mi) west of Ras Mkumbi (next entry). Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D6667.
Ras Kanzi Light
Ras Kanzi Light ruins, Kidagaa Village
TripAdvisor (Lighthouse Beach Resort) Creative Commons photo by Jarle Naustvik
** Ras Mkumbi (Moresby Point, Mafia Island)
1894. Active; focal plane 31 m (102 ft); white flash every 5 s. 30 m (98 ft) square masonry tower with lantern and gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white with red horizontal bands on the upper half; the lantern dome is also painted red. Matt Hinckley's photo is at right, Chris Standen also has a photo, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Mafia Island is a 50 km (30 mi) long island off the southeast coast of Tanzania; it was under Arab control until it was purchased by Germany in 1890. Part of the island and the waters around the island are now incorporated in the Mafia Island Marine Park, and a number of resorts have been built on the island. The lighthouse is located on the northernmost tip of Mafia Island, accessible by 4WD. Site open; it is reported that the tower is open for climbing. ARLHS TAN-011; Admiralty D6666; NGA 31492.
Fanjove Island (2)
1924 (station established 1894). Inactive since sometime after 1987. 17 m (55 ft) square tower with lantern and gallery rising from the center of a 1-story keeper's house. Lighthouse painted white. A 2012 photo and another photo are available, there's also a closeup (2/3 the way down the page), and Google has a satellite view. The abandoned lighthouse is deteriorating rapidly. There is a painting (almost halfway down the page) of the original lighthouse, a round, tapered tower. Located on a small island at the southern end of the Mafia group. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS TAN-015; ex-Admiralty D6662.
Fanjove Island (3)
Date unknown (2012?). Active; focal plane about 13 m (43 ft); white flash every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) round barbell-shaped tower colored with black and white horizontal bands. The light is seen behind the the old lighthouse in a 2012 photo. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty D6659.

Lindi Region Lighthouse
Ras Shuka
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 5 s. 6 m (20 ft) post attached to a square service building. No photo available, but Google has a good satellite view. Located on a promontory at the eastern entrance to the Lindi estuary. Probably accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty D6654; NGA 31500.
Ras Mkumbi Light
Ras Mkumbi Light, Mafia Island, September 2006
Flickr photo copyright Matt Hinckley; permission requested

Mtwara Region Lighthouse
Ras Msangamkuu
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 26 m (85 ft); white flash every 10 s. 21 m (69 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, but the shadow of the tower is seen in a Google satellite view. Located on a sharp promontary at the eastern entrance to Mikindani Bay, about 10 km (6 mi) northeast of Mtwara in the far south of Tanzania. Site status unknown. ARLHS TAN-014; Admiralty D6650; NGA 31516.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

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Notable faux lighthouses:

  •  Dar es Salaam (2008), a very large tower at the entrance to Dar es Salaam harbor, is not listed as a navigational aid. Google has a satellite view.

Adjoining pages: North: Kenya | South: Mozambique

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Posted June 12, 2005. Checked and revised August 24, 2014. Lighthouses: 28. Site copyright 2014 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.