At the point where the massive Pangani River empties itself into the Indian Ocean, a village has grown. The Pangani River passes through the north side of the town, separating the old buildings and the present-day market from the farms and small houses on the south side. The river itself requires a ferry to cross, its dark brown waters heavy with alluvial silt as it meanders slowly into the ocean. On either side of the little town, coconut palms and sisal plantations undulate towards the horizon.
Once a centre of Swahili trade with the African mainland, the town of Pangani is now a sleepy backwater that little remembers its days of splendour. The old German administrative boma still stands behind a colonade of tall shade trees and the former prison, painted a fading ochre red, looks over the river’s lazy waters. Old houses along the main road offer lived-in examples of colonial and traditional Swahili architecture, the buildings slowly crumbling against the monsoon winds. Visitors passing through the area would do well to explore what remains of the old town on foot. Even a short walk rewards visitors with a glimpse of quiet life in the old trading towns along the Swahili Coast.