We left the hotel early this morning for our flight back home with saddened hearts, but lots of beautiful memories and so much appreciation for the whole trip. Learnt so much and loved everything! I will be back!!
Some of my own tips if you planning a trip to Zanzibar – firstly Zanzibar is NOT a beach holiday!
I know it sounds crazy and I am probably the only one who does not agree, but the warm tropical water’s is far too warm to enjoy the ocean in the tropical climate (humid and hot). There is too much seaweed in the water, and if you down in the South, low tide stretches out for km’s, and then you only have half a metre depth to swim once you have walked to the start of the tide and ducked all the seaweed. We went in March, so I don’t know if a different month it changes, as I mentioned, I want to go again and we will try another time of the year and report back on this. Also there are many Masaai men on the beach that want to come and shake your hand and talk, it can get frustrating when you just want to walk and enjoy the views, the sand and the peace. Do take lots of suntan lotion and remember to cover up your arms and legs if you a woman. Costumes are okay for the beach, but no one actually lies on the sand and suntans. The suntan you get is mainly from walking on the beach. And remember out of respect as well, please wear a kikoy (traditional sarong) around your waist, have a sun hat and buy lots of bottled water. You can not drink the tap water it is far too salty. The North more so than the South.
But what Zanzibar has to offer is amazing and definitely worth a trip! It is more a cultural holiday. Stone town is a must and I recommend you take a guide with you; I met a great guide – Ali- who was honest and trustworthy. If you want his details please contact me, I don’t mind giving out his information. I will definitely use him again for my next Zanzibar trip! Some write ups say you can walk and do Stone town on your own, but it has many alleys and walkways and you could get lost, plus as the locals don’t talk much English it is good to have a local with.
The Spice tour is a must!! Our guide (we used the same guide on all our tours as we felt comfortable with him) once again was amazing and his English is very good, which really helps. There is so much to learn from the spice tour, you actually walk and taste, smell and see all the spices that grow in Zanzibar – Ali the guide makes is so interesting and tells you stories as you walk along.
I will book to stay in a hotel for my next trip, but will also look at staying at some self catering places for a few days. You have to enjoy living like a local for a few days to really appreciate and experience everything. If you do book a hotel, do try and visit local places and not just the tourist spots. You learn and gain so much more. Also don’t book an all inclusive package; it is good to taste local food at some restaurants. Just be aware of ordering meat, stick to vegetarian meals. They are great though. And do try the local beers and Chai tea.
Would definitely recommend a few days in the South where you can watch the ladies doing the seaweed farming on the beach and do book some diving/snorkelling on this side of the Island.
Pop on over to the Rock Restaurant, have heard the food is not so good, so just have some cocktails or a drink to enjoy the boat trip across and the views, a must.
Then take a few days in the North to enjoy that side of the Island too. Book a hotel where your room has a sea view. Azanzi hotel has no sea view rooms, the restaurant and the pool area is in front of the sea with sea views, but I found though in the evenings, it would have been nice to sit outside my room and see the ocean.
I would also recommend that you book a night in Stone town the day before your flight out, the airport is very close and just saves on time and stress.
A definite is a visit or if you can afford it, an overnight stay at Chumbe Island!! Do this as your second last day before you leave the Island as a bonus. You will kick yourself if you don’t go there, I promise! It is amazing is an understatement!! If you plan to do snorkeling and are money tight, save your money and rather go to Chumbe Island instead where you will have an amazing trip and the snorkeling is included. We saw a shark, turtles, so many amazing fish, stunning coral and so much more. On our Snorkeling trip from Scuba fish at the Azazi hotel we only saw fish and starfish – no turtles, no sharks and we never had a bat fish follow us.
Everything is in USD or Tanzanian Schilling, the conversation is exactly the same. At the airport exchange some money and you can also do it at Stone Town, otherwise you have limited places to exchange. Hotels cost more to exchange as well. At the markets, barter and barter, and don’t just buy from the first place. Some things are the same price at whichever stall you go to, but then I decided to buy from the person who was the friendliest. Do try all their fruit, it is delicious!
Another must is a visit to see the Columbine Monkeys, go in the morning. We went in the afternoon and they seemed more relaxed and not so active.
Take lots of mosquito repellent with, and if you worried then take malaria tablets. I did, there are no side effects and I would rather be safe than sorry. Medical and hospital facilities are scary in Zanzibar and not reliable. I have heard horror stories from the staff that live there, so rather be safe. Talking about safe, don’t try and climb a coconut tree like I did, if I broke my ankle, who knows what would have happened. I know a little careless, but that is what the Island does to you.
Otherwise book and enjoy. Let me know if you go and share some of your experiences with me. You can also make bookings with https://www.booktotravel.co.za
See you on my next adventure