Three days on Zanzibar!
October 17-19, 2014
I’ll start by giving a little history of this beautiful country. Tanzania was known as ‘Tanyanika’ until 1964, when it was united with Zanzibar. The country was then re-named The United Republic of Tanzania, which explained the name of Lake Tanyanika, one of Africa’s great lakes. Lake Tanyanika is the longest lake in the world, second deepest and bordered by four countries; Burundi, Congo (Democratic Republic), Tanzania, and Zambia. Africa is an amazing place. Chris, our G Adventures CEO, was a wealth of knowledge on everything Africa and fortunately for us, he shared this knowledge.
We left Pumba, our truck, and Dixon, our driver, behind in Dar Es Salaam and boarded the ferry bound for Zanzibar. We had about a 15 minute walk to reach the ferry terminal and in those 15 minutes, we had the opportunity to purchase knock off Louis Vuitton bags, cameras, water, “Coca-Cola” from Colombia, and every type of food imaginable. This was to be expected as we screamed western tourist, sporting our Ray Bans and North Face gear. No surprise we were bombarded.
The hour and a half ferry ride over to Zanzibar cost $30 USD but was included in our G Adventures tour. Chris had told us in advance how choppy the ocean could be and to be prepared to get seasick, so we were all expecting the worst. Luckily enough, the outbound trip was extremely calm but the same can’t to be said for the return trip. The ferry is a catamaran, so it could move pretty quickly through the water. Coming back to the mainland, we were tossed up and down, side to side, with vomit bags getting filled by the minute. Luckily no one in our group got sick!
The ferry docked in Stone Town which is both famous, and infamous. Famous for its spice farming and trading and infamous for its slave trading in the 19th century. The city definitely has an edge. You are surrounded by locals immediately after walking out of the ferry terminal, most offering you accommodations, a ride to your accommodations, or marijuana. TIA.
We were met by our G Adventures rep and tour bus that took us to our resort on the northern tip of the island, Amaan Bungalows, right on Nungwi Beach. Here we slept in, enjoyed the pool, the ocean and the bar. We even had a dinner on the beach one night; a buffet of fresh seafood, followed by a fire on the beach. Not unlike the North American all-inclusive resorts, this one was full of tourists indulging in the endless food and drink, peace and quiet, completely oblivious to, in some cases, the desperate and deplorable living conditions in the cities and towns just outside the gates. We’re all guilty.
A highlight of our trip to Zanzibar would have to be the sunset cruise we did on our first night. We had an old, rickety wooden boat that creaked when the waves hit it. We also had a full cooler, or ‘eskie’ as the Aussies call it, and a live African drum band on board to entertain us. We went snorkeling in the crystal clear waters and got to dive from the top of the boat. Jess and a couple of the girls joined the band and got a lesson on the drums. Zanzibar was a treat to say the least.
From Nungwi Beach we headed south towards Stone Town but took a slight detour to visit a spice farm on the way. We had a guided tour and had the opportunity to try several spices including fresh cloves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and lemongrass. Stone Town was our next stop where we checked in at our hotel for the night, Mazsons Hotel. The hotel is in a great location in the heart of Stone Town, but could use some work.
The Africa House Hotel lies right on the ocean in Stone Town and was the perfect setting for sunset drinks which we had following some western cuisine at Freddy Mercury’s restaurant, Mercury’s. Yes, Freddy Mercury, former front man for Queen, was born on Zanzibar. We have a ton of sunset pictures from the Africa trip, but Zanzibar takes the cake.
Zanzibar was a great experience and definitely should not be missed if in Tanzania or Dar Es Salaam.
Next up, Malawi and its lake of the same name!
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jess + trickett