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ronellevan Zanzibar - A travel report by Ronelle
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Zanzibar,  Tanzania, United Republic of - flag Tanzania, United Republic of
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ronellevan's travel reports

Spice Island slow down

  20 votes
Near the end of our South East African trek in August 2004, we went to Zanzibar, where we slowed ourselves down to the most relaxing snails pace. This exotic and beautiful island will take you back a few centuries to a time when life was more simple.

Zanzibar travelogue picture
Zanzibar is as exotic as it sounds, but more than that, it is a place to unwind and forget about the rest of the world. Surrounded by the warm, turqoise waters of the Indian Ocean, the white beaches, small fishing villages and spice farms are far removed from anything I've experienced before. The friendly, colourful locals make you feel welcome at every turn, and are keen to share their heritage and history.

Favourite spots:
A view of Nungwi beach from the boat that took us snorkling.
A view of Nungwi beach from the boat that took us snorkling.
Nungwi Beach, at the far north of the main island, has the whitest, softest sand you can imagine. The minute you walk on to the beach, all your worries disappear into the universe and seem like they will never return. Not only is it a beautiful beach, with great reefs for snorkling and diving, but the locals are super friendly and accomodating. Mr Coconut invited us to his beach BBQ, at a very small price, and not only cooked for us, but entertained us with his music and funny jokes. We were sad to leave after only 2 nights.

What's really great:
The chain is reputedly the original chain they used.
The chain is reputedly the original chain they used.
On the tour through Stonetown, we went to the old slave market. They took us to the small, cold rooms underground, where the twenty of us were cramped in a room that more than seventy women and children were kept in for weeks, without food or water. Next to the original slave pit is the cathedral that Bishop Steers, who helped to abolish slavery, built over the old slave market. It was an interesting and saddening look into some of Zanzibar's fascinating history.

Opening coconuts.
Opening coconuts.
Hamim sent us on one of his spice tours, which was interesting and entertaining. We were walked around the spice farm by a local guide, followed by local children making jewellery and baskets out of palm leaves. (Just be aware that they do eventually ask you money for the trinkets.) We were invited to taste spices from the ground and trees and try to guess what they were. We tasted all the different fruits grown on the farm and we watched the men climb the palm trees to gather coconuts and open them in the most daring ways with their sharp machetes. Then we were taken to Hamim's house for a spicy lunch. Well worth the small amount we paid for the tour.

We stayed mostly in local hotels and beachside resorts, which had rooms with beds for the three of us and mosquito nets. Basic, but all we needed, and breakfast was always included. We had the help of a man named Hamim, who owns the Karibu Inn in Stonetown, and the mere mention of his name would get the price of our room lowered. We never paid more than $30US for a room on the island.

The island has a mainly Islam population so we found it a bit difficult to find a bar serving alcohol in Stonetown. Further out on the island there is no problem, they cater happily for the tourists, just don't drink them out of beer.

This was the view to my right during the rugby match.
This was the view to my right during the rugby match.
We spent the two nights we were in Stonetown lounging by the pool and bar of the Serena Inn, a five star hotel that doesn't have a problem with non-residents hanging out there as long as they are appropriately dressed. They changed channels on the TV for us so that we could watch the tri-nations rugby match and we settled in for the duration. Rugby match to the front, dhows and sunsets to the right.

We ate at the Serena Inn restaurant the first night on Zanzibar. The food was perfect in every way; well cooked, well presented and locally spiced. The price was a little more than our budget allowed, but it was well worth pulling the credit card out.

Published on Tuesday October 31th, 2006

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Sun, Jul 29 2007 - 05:07 PM rating by lucian

SO NICE REPORT! I will visit Zanzibar in two months and because of your report I can allready feel the happiness! Continue writing!

Thu, Jan 25 2007 - 09:12 PM rating by mrscanada

I want to come to Zanzabar when I was in Kenya but time didn't allow me to go.

Wed, Nov 01 2006 - 12:23 AM rating by rangutan

Brief report on a specialy interesting place!

Tue, Oct 31 2006 - 04:33 PM rating by davidx

I feel that this is the best of your three for information. Photos would make it 5* for me.

Tue, Oct 31 2006 - 12:10 PM rating by marianne

Looks as if you enjoyed your stay on Zanzibar. I wish there were some photos to show what it all looks like.

Tue, Oct 31 2006 - 10:02 AM rating by frenchfrog

Shame that are missing photos! nice report!

Tue, Oct 31 2006 - 09:32 AM rating by mistybleu

A very interesting read; I wish you had pictures.

I just completed a tour of southern Africa and many of my group members continued onto Zanzibar and they spoke very highly of the country, it all sounds so beautiful.


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