That’s hello in Swahili.
I’ve just returned from a phenomenal 7 night vacation at the Zanzibar archipelago (now known as My Island Paradise) and brought back a tan to be reckoned with (thank you 36 degrees of semi-equatorial heat!) and a heart full of happy memories. Those azure waters are the real deal – no filter needed. It draws you in and is the elixir of bliss you’ve been searching for!
And the SNORKELING – oh don’t get me started just yet… 🙂
This, Dear Reader, was the trip of a lifetime and I’m going to share my experiences and recommendations with you, in the hope that it will nudge you in the direction of the nearest airport, through the gates at passport control… 🙂
Get ready, you’re in for one helluva vicarious vacation, with me. xx
By way of a quick geography lesson, Zanzibar is a collection of islands off the east coast of Tanzania. Its currency is the Tanzanian Shilling (at the time of writing their currency in relation to the rand was approximately ZAR 1.00 = Ts 133.00).
The main currency of exchange used in hotels, restaurants and most tour operators is the US Dollar.
(At the time of writing the value of the Rand in relation to the US Dollar was too upsetting to type out… error loading…cough cough…and all that. You know how things are at the moment, economically speaking…but trust me, don’t let the exchange rate dissuade you. There are packages aplenty to suit every budget!) From my own research, I recommend that you check out the deals on Mango Travel; Student Flights; Africa Stay and Amazing Holidays
Also, local markets and certain cafes / restaurants will accept Tanzanian Shillings (in addition to dollars), so it’s best to keep some on you. It’s also best to negotiate prices in shillings – I found that the prices of items at the local markets and “tourist stops” increased considerably when we enquired about prices in Dollars.
I stayed at Ngalawa Beach Village (above) on the east of the island at Chawka Bay – I would go back in a heartbeat. The food was FANTASTIC (and you know that I’m big on food)! The resort itself was intimate (18 cottages), family run and the staff bend over backwards to ensure that your stay is wonderful. Kudos. Kudos.
It was also ideally situated because I was never more than an hours drive from all activities. (The beaches further north in Nungwi are far prettier, but you’re looking for a central spot, the east is perfect.)
Alternatively, you could stay at the city centre, Stone Town.
The island is a 3.5 hour flight from Johannesburg, with Mango Airlines offering direct flights to Zanzibar. (I flew Mango, incident free and on time). Kudos again.
It’s not all palm trees and paradisiacal beaches though.
This is an exceptionally impoverished archipelago, with very little infrastructure by way of schools, hospitals and general housing. A drive through the city centre, Stone Town, presents an unfortunate picture of dilapidated buildings aged aggressively over time but still rich with culture; and with local businesses offering paintings by local artists, traditional outfits, spices and the usual ‘tourist’ fare like t-shirts and sarongs.
The spices on offer are abundant.
From a visit to the city centre alone, it is clear that Zanzibar is geared for tourists. It’s the main source of income for the island, followed by the export of spices as a close second.
Did I mention I met a cheetah and a white lion?! More on this in Part 2 🙂
The people lead modest lives with kindness, simplicity and almost tangible warmth. It’s actually quite an eye opener and very refreshing. It’s also one of the reasons I will return.
Then there are the beaches. Absolute paradise. Just like every brochure and post card advertises. Their coastline is magnificent as is their reef. This is a snorkelers paradise and if you think you’re not into snorkelling as you read this, oh darling you will be after a drop here.
I hope I’ve whet you appetite a bit with this first instalment of my three-part series of posts on Zanzibar.
Next: Part 2 – Things To Do In Zanzibar – tours and stops that you CANNOT miss!!
Then: Part 3 – Zanzibar Travel Guide: Personal Travel Tips and Recommendations
Dates I travelled on: 23rd to 30th January 2016
Hotel: Ngalawa Beach Village
Airlines: DBN – JHB : Mango
JHB – ZAN : Mango return
JHB – DBN : SAA
Catch you soon..!
Disclaimer: The names of companies, hotels, airlines and so forth mentioned in this series is for information purposes only. Doing Durban is not affiliated with any of these entities nor have they sponsored any of the mentions herein. All content is based on my personal experience and this series will reflect my opinion only, which may differ from yours. To each his own.