Zanzibar has always been a dream destination for me! I am obsessed with turquoise blue waters and this island is famous for its sea having all kind of blue shades.
Zanzibar is the main island of Zanzibar Archipelago which is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa.
The name Zanzibar comes from Persia, signifying “black coast” and is famous for its spices and of course for its white beaches and turquoise blue waters.
It had been a state of Oman and a British protectorate at the end of the 19th century.
It has been an important port for centuries. Initially, known for the many spices that were grown on the island, especially cloves and cinnamon, later, for the slave trade between Europe and America.
Now, it’s a significant tourists spot in East Africa.
Walking around the island each and every day, was inspiring, there was always something new to see and fall in love with.
Because of its rich history and culture, Zanzibar is unique if you compare it to the mainland Tanzania, and sometimes feels like it is a completely different country. There are English, German, Arabic, and East African influences, all swirling together to create something completely unique and unlike anywhere else in the world.
It’s truly an amazing place.
After two full weeks in office, which seemed endless, I was looking forward to this getaway. Finally we were leaving to Zanzibar.
An escape to the endless summer and tranquility. To a wonderful places very far away. So far as you might think it is another world and it true. It’s really another world. At 12.600 km away we know that here the life it’s valued differently. We expect it to be a real life lesson for us.
The first morning in Zanzibar was amazing.
It is the first day when I wake up with the sea waves, sunlight and no alarm clock.
I get out of the bed and walk barefoot over the doorway on the spotless white sand.
I turned to the ocean and saw how the waves break in the distance, on the reefs. I sow the sun reflected in the water, the palm trees above me, barely moving. Ah! What a perfect place to wake up.
After having breakfast and a coffee with this view, we headed to our first adventure- snorkeling.
Well, somewhere in a remote village, a traditional boat waited for us on a large white beach.
Once we all got in, the boat came round the reefs and took us to the perfect place for snorkeling.
We all jumped, excited and eager to see the underwater wonders. But our joy was short.
As soon as we entered the water we felt dozens of bites all over our bodies. So we couldn’t linger too long in the water.
We all jump back in the boat. Later we learned that there were jellyfish. Well, this adventure was short. No one wanted to enter in the water again.
We return to the beach were a seasonal fruit picnic waiting for us. We stayed somewhere in the shade of a palm tree, on the beach enjoying the delicious fruits. Pineapple was the star. The taste, the smell…was absolutely delicious.
Back at the villa, we walked on the beach.
It is amazing to see how the landscape changes from hour to hour.
On this part of the island high tide and low tide is very visible. One minute the waves were crashing into the villa’s fence, minutes after it was hundred meters away.
Here life runs smoothly, no hurry.
They have a saying: “Hakuna Matata” which says that there is no problem, don’t worry. Things work out by themselves.
And this holidays seems to be in this spirit.
In the evening when our host asked us if we would want to go to the club, we stared to laugh.
Yes, right! Club?! … Yes! Yes!
When we saw that the man was serious, we said: Why not?!
So we went to our rooms to prepare and when we went out, a surprise waited for us: Dala dala, which is classical transportation car in Zanzibar. In fact, it is a minibus which seemed to break apart. We sat in the back, on a U-shaped timber bench. We were lucky, we had all dala dala for ourselves.
The road was very bad but at some point dala dala stopped in the middle of a field. They switched off the lights and told us to go out and look at the sky.
At that moment everything became so quiet. We were amazed about what we sow.
It was like we could see the entire universe. Millions of stars, which were more or less bright. Among them, the Milky Way looked like more radiant than ever.
We could hardly move away from this amazing view, but we had to continue to our destination.
The first two clubs that we reached to, were pretty empty. After all, it was out-off season period. But the third was a charm.
It was perched somewhere on a wooden structure, looked more like Tarzan’s house.
Once inside, we found a group of kids that was doing synchronous dancing, probably learned from a music video in Zanzibar. I think that they really like it because they play it all over again.
Music in Zanzibar is a combination of African rhythms, Indian, Arabic and rap. Kind off Sean Paul style. I tried to catch myself a few moves, but it wasn’t possible to keep up with them.
Clubbing in Zanzibar was very interesting. I can’t deny that. I would never have expected to go to club in Africa, but I did it and it was a unique experience.
A new day in Zanzibar. The sun raised, the wind brought the smell of ocean breeze. In distance, a fisherman was collecting his nets and a women gathered seaweed.
Today we’re going to see a spice farm, one of the most important income sources of the island.
A minibus took us to the center of the island. We passed many rice paddies, banana plantations, mangrove forests and reach a forest area where was this spices farm.
We met our guide and soon he started to show us the farm. Without him we would have certainly lost ourselves.
Armed with baskets made from palm leaves, trimmed with hibiscus flower, we discover the plants that produce various spices like cloves, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla or coffee. The most amusing discovery was the fruit of a tree called the lipstick tree. If you squash the seeds of this fruit, you get a paste that you can apply on your lips, making them red.
And so, as we sank deep into the forest, the more fruit we tasted, the more we were thinking that our European stomach will not resist to the avalanche of flavors and fragrances … but, surprising, we managed quite well.
Towards the end of the tour it started to rain, luckily that we could find a shelter where we were treated royally. And when I say royally, I mean literally. We received crowns of kings and queens … it’s true that they were make of palm leaves and flowers … but anything goes.
We calmed our thirst with coconut milk, freshly picked up.
The diversity that surrounded us it was amazing and the journey made us realize that no matter how much you know, there is always room for more. You get to know and live things that books can’t teach you.
After spice farm we went to the north of the island. North Zone is very touristic and this it easy to see. There are many hotels, cafes, restaurants and mini markets. Okay, mini market is much said, but there were some grocery stores where you could find somethings … not much.
We stopped at a restaurant it was already lunch time.
Cuisine in Zanzibar is not very varied, you can choose mainly between seafood and fish or seafood and fish. I personally like it.
After a satisfying meal, we walked on the beach and we stopped at a cafe place. We played beach football and splashing along in the sea with new little friends. Many children came to join us.
North part of the island is ideal for sunbathing and swimming, because here the tides are not so high, and you never have to go very far to the water when its low tides. In addition, you can take long walks on the beach without facing the cruel reality of villages.
Everyone is trying to sell you something or take money from you. Being a tourist area, locals are trying to take advantage of this.
While we walked on the beach a guy came along all the way. He kept trying to sell us some trips, despite the fact that he had already said that we weren’t interested. The man was not aggressive but clearly was insistent.
Even the children who came to play with us, were doing it maybe because they could win something.
The reality is that in Zanzibar people are poor and have hard life. They eat what they find around the house or what they manage to fish. Water is brought from the only spring in the village. People living in subhuman conditions. In some villages of the island, more than half of the villagers living in poverty.
The reality is that their island is amazing and they receive you, and give you all their best because they want to live a better life.
It make you realize how luck you are.
The next day we woke up very early because we wanted to see the dolphins. We headed to a village where some boats were waiting for us. And because of the low tides the boats were stuck in the sand so we had to push them to the high waters.
Once in the boat, we started searching for the dolphins. Not long after they started to appear here and there. Dolphins swim here in freedom so we went by boat where they were seen. When we reached next to them, we were jumping into the water and swam among them, or rather they were passing us.
And then climb back into boats and start a new search. Dolphins are sensational. And it is a unique experience to swim with them.
After a morning on the ocean in search of dolphins, we were pretty hungry. And for breakfast we stopped at the local market.
Here we find people spread everywhere selling fruits and vegetables. They were selling little piles not by the kilogram. We negotiated some bananas and oranges which were rapped on a newspaper and that was the breakfast.
The fruits here have a different taste, from bananas which are very small to the tasty pineapple that I couldn’t get enough.
After the breakfast we went to a port were a traditional sailing boat was waiting for us. A boat that took us somewhere to swim among multicolored fishes.
It is true that you can’t compare it to the Red Sea but it is nice to see them swimming around you. I haven’t taken snorkeling goggles, like others, I just wanted to swim among them and just to enjoy the water.
The water, sun, swimming and of course the excitement knocked us down, so a snack prepared by our fishermen was more than welcoming: pineapple, coconut and watermelon … Yammie
After the snack we left to the smallest island in the area that was appearing from the ocean at low tide.
When we got there, we discovered a white strip of sand coming out of a turquoise waters just perfect. Ahh what a beauty!
We quickly jumped out the boat and swam anxiously to the shore. The small island coming up from the ocean was mind blowing. Time passed so fast.
We couldn’t get enough of this place.
But tides begun to rise and the island was slowly swallowed by the ocean.
Before we climbed back on the ship there was only a trace of sand left. While leaving, we were watching how the ocean was swallowing the island with each wave.
Then we headed to a new island where we had a traditional lunch: seafood and fries.
After the lunch we decided to have a walk inland to the biggest baobab from around here.
On the little alley, which snaked through the island, we met thousands of crabs. It was their island.
Once we reached the Baobab it was magnificent … it was huge. We couldn’t cover it with our eyes.
A new day brought new adventures. This time we were supposed to see very old turtles.
Somewhere, not far from Stone Town, capital of Zanzibar, there is a tiny green island surrounded by crystal clear waters which is very good for bathing. The name of this island is Prison Island.
Here a prison for slaves was originally built. It used to be a place on the slave trail, but immediately after it was build, the slavery was abolished and the prison has hosted no prisoners. Instead it was a quarantine center for those arriving in Zanzibar. They stood there until they were considered fit to enter the island.
One hundred years ago, the British governor of the Seychelles sent as a gift, four turtles who have settled very nicely here. So well that the island is now famous for its turtles. The oldest turtle is 198 years old and it is a star. We had so much fun with them. Then we just walk around the island and the tree shade was a real blessing. After the walk a refreshing splash in the crystal clear waters followed.
Next morning, we woke up early and went to the heart of the island, in the old forest of Jozani.
Jozani Forest is a natural reserve of 50km2 where Red Colobus monkeys are based, which is a very rare species that lives only in Zanzibar.
Initially, the reservation functioned with international aid but now it is self-supporting. Part of the gain with the sale of tickets is used for maintenance and the other part is used to educate the community on the conservation of the area.
You will be delighted to see the lovely monkeys in their natural environment. To see how they eat, how they jump from one tree to another, or how caring for their little cubs.
We reached the forest and the guide assigned to us, led us to the playful monkeys. The monkeys are used with the people around them so our presence wasn’t frightening.
Then the guide took us to another place, a kind of Zoo Park. He showed us all kinds of reptiles from snakes to chameleons.
The bravest in our group were very excited about wearing the snake on their shoulders. I personally have been more pleased to play with the chameleon.
However the experience was very interesting.
Once we decided to go to Zanzibar, I began to look for interesting places to visit there. The Rock is a “must see”. The Rock is actually a rock in the ocean just a few meters from the beach of Michamwi Pingwe, on the east coast of Zanzibar. On this rock a restaurant is build.
The unconventional place, the ocean, the construction itself, the display of the coral reefs and, not least, the delicious food, makes this little restaurant one of the most interesting restaurants in the world.
It’s not a cheap, not at all, and it is attended mainly by tourists. But I could not miss this opportunity to visit it.
It is one of those special places that, once there, gives a very pleasant feeling. But such a place had to be visited once in life, because the second time for sure doesn’t have the same impact.
I found it very interesting the way you can reach this restaurant.
If the tide is low, it can be reached by the beach just walking on wet sand, but if the tide is high, then it can only be reached by boat or swimming.
We arrived at high tide, so a boat took us to the stairs of the restaurant. We stepped forward and we entered to a truly unique restaurant: simple, modest, with certain rustic charm. There were only a few tables inside and a charming terrace overlooking the ocean and the coral reef.
Of course, we chosen to sit on the terrace and enjoy the experience with a few drinks. I must say that here I drank the best mango juices ever.
On the way back, the boat took us on the beach. We couldn’t leave. In sunset light, the restaurant was gorgeous…
So, we found a restaurant on the beach, not far from The Rock. Well, restaurant is much said. It was a long table flanked by two wooden benches. The food was brought from a barrack closed by. But it was a very pleasant surprise, both the service and the food, at a price that didn’t bear comparison to the famous restaurant a few meters away. A late lunch with an amazing view.
On the beach we met three charming girls who have completely softened our hearts.
As a conclusion, The Rock is a once in a lifetime experience. The experience of dining in a sensational place. But it is worth to see it once.
I personally wouldn’t come back.
During this period, in Zanzibar, I lived a whole series of adventures, I saw landscapes that seemed emerge from magazines, I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people with whom I spent some special moments. We enjoyed the sky and the ocean breeze in the late nights. I lived far from the constraints and rigors of society and the most important thing is that I learned, I learned about life, about myself, about what matters in life.
After all this, came the moment of the last night, the night that we wanted it to be special.
I talked to our friends from Miramont Retreat, where we stayed, to organize a dinner on the beach.
The beach, the sky covered with millions of stars, a table with goodies and a few lanterns that created a special vibe and us.
A dinner between friends, a dinner that it be will remembered, perhaps all life.