African adventure part III – Zanzibar

I finally got around to finish my African adventure trilogy and just in time before travelling to Spain and the Oktoberfest in Calella 🙂

So here goes.

After having been walking for days on the mountain it was great to think about getting to Zanzibar and on to the beach. But first we had to get there.

We flew out from Kilimanjaro International again, but since this was a domestic flight our luggage allowance was now reduces from 2 x 26 kilos to 1 x 20 + hand luggage.  Which for me meant leaving some of my stuff behind. Some of it I’ve already given to the porters back at the mountain and now I left some books which I’ve already read and some clothes that I found was beyond ever getting clean again.

I was a little kilo above the allowance but nobody seemed to care, and Ken checking in right behind me had 2 x 35 kilos to check in, and with some “I’m just a stupid tourist” acting he actually got those on the plane without any problem.

Our flight went from Kilimanjaro International, had a stopover in Dar es Salaam before we got to Zanzibar International Airport.

We were greeted at the airport and taken by bud to a place just outside Stone Town called Zanzibar Ocean View Hotel. While the road to the hotel doesn’t really seem to promise any ocean view at all the hotel was just stunning, right on the beach and with beautiful “bungalows” and a great view of the beach and the ocean. It’s a clean, nice place with friendly staff and good food. Have a look at their pages, and the images and bear in mind that this place is the only one I’ve been to that is more stunning in real life than on the photos provided 🙂

Just what we needed after the tents on Kilimanjaro.

We had two nights at this place before heading north to Nungwi Beach.

The first afternoon a couple of us went in to Stone Town and had dinner and a few drinks at the Africa House Hotel. They have a great terrace to watch the sunset from, but we were just to late for that.

The dinner service is slow, that seems to be the rule around Zanzibar, but the drinks are good and with a pleasant relaxed atmosphere.

On the second day in Stone Town I and some other in our group went out to Prison Island.

Prison Island is a small island a short hop from Stone Town by boat,  there is no ferry service there so you would have to hire a dhow to take your there. On the island there is a resort where you can stay or have dinner in the restaurant. Since it was Ramadan when I was there the restaurant was closed so we didn’t go there.

Prison Island got its name after a prison was built there in 1890 but it was never used as a prison. According to our guide the rulers found the place to be to nice and were afraid any prisoners there would find it to be a paradise.

At the moment the island is a giant turtle sanctuary and you can have a walk around a look, feed and pet the turtles. Again we see how this place works. There are signs everywhere telling you not to feed or touch the turtles, but the first thing you get when you enter through the gate is handful of green grass that the turtles love 🙂

After having a look at the turtles and a guided tour of the prison we hit the beach, some people went out in the dhow to do some snorkelling while the rest of us baked and swam.

Little word of warning, be aware of the birds on the island. They will go after your food and pick holes in paper and plastic bags to get to it.

When we got back to Stone Town we had a late lunch at one of the places just of the beach. Zanzibar being a Muslim community and this being Ramadan meant that we had to go inside to “hide” while eating which is kind of a shame thinking about the beautiful surroundings. But showing some respect never hurt anyone.

Then we had a wander around in Stone Town it self. The place is known for it’s narrow alleys and is packed with souvenir shops. I think this is a shame because it takes some of the charm away from the place. We walked around for a while, got lost for a while and eventually ended up at a open air market just on the out skirt. I guess that’s where the locals went to do their shopping because the place was packed with people and all kind of goods.

By now we were tired and got a cab to take us back to the Ocean View Hotel. You have to haggle with the Taxi drivers for a proper price. We got back to the resort and of course the driver wanted to get paid more.

Later we went into town again and had dinner and Johan lead us on a wild goose chase to find some place that used to be good. But I guess it was closed cause we ended up back at Africa House.

On the third day we left Stone Town and headed for Nungwi, some of us embarked on a spice safari on the way north.

The Spice safari took us to a little farm that was probably made just to show of the different spices and to show tourist around. A guide took us all around the place and showed us the different spices and we got to smell and taste it right from the tree, bushes and roots.

We also had a fruit “lunch” where we got to taste all the local fruits. Some familiar and some not. I also got the best grapefruit ever ! After lunch we were threatened with a little show where a local kid climbed a coconut palm while singing some tune, and when he came down he served us coconut milk directly from the coconuts.

And then of course we were able  by spices grown on the farm to support the farmers. They also had soaps, teas and fragrances made there. And we got a hat made of palm leaves, and a palm leaf tie for the guys and a small palm leaf frog necklace for the girls.

When we left I gave my hat to a bunch of kids that ran around our bus as we left the place. Guess they would have more fun with it that I would.

Nungwi Beach

When we drove toward the new place in Nungwi I again got the feeling that we were not to find any beaches, the last part of the drive brought us through narrow lanes with run down houses and a lot of litter all around. But after we got through the gates at Amaan Bungalows it all freshened up.

Amman Bungalows and the Ocean View Hotel are both run by the same company, but the standard is little lower in Nungwi. The rooms are still nice and clean but the food served and the service is not quite as good.

But when it comes to food Nungwi is not lacking at all, all the way up and down the beach you’ll find lots of resorts with very good food and service. There were also plenty of  room on the beaches and great water for swimming.

The days in Nungwi was spent just relaxing, some people went snorkelling and diving but I kept to the beach.

We had nice warm days which usually had a small rain shower around  lunch, but it was quickly done with and back to nice and sunny.

In the afternoon we would go out in smaller groups for dinner since we found that most places would have a problem serving 25 people in one go. And of course not everyone likes the same food and after living on top of each other on Kilimanjaro you need a break sometime.

After dinner I kept ending up at the “boat” bar, which was the only place that was open late, had reasonable prices and nice cocktails 😀

Getting back home at night however was more challenging at times. The gates along the beach between the resorts usually closed around 11 pm and then you would have to either walk the beach, which was a problem since the tide was inn, or walk around the outside of our compound to get to the main gate. Which might be a little scary since it’s almost pitch black and out in the middle of nowhere.

But it usually worked out just fine.

So I guess this is the end of the African adventure trilogy, the trip home from Zanzibar was long and quite boring so I won’t write much about that 🙂

One Comment

  1. enucwebmea
    February 17, 2011

    Awesome information over again. I am looking forward for your next post!

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