We had the best time!
Day 1: Arrival at Zanzaibar
Our flight was a direct flight from JHB to Zanzibar. When we arrived at the airport we were shocked to see the rustic, half built building. We stood in the hot, humid arrivals area waiting to pass through immigration. Once we had got through, we found our luggage. The luggage was brought in on a trolley and dropped in the middle of the room for all of the tourists to search through and find their luggage. We laughed… “only in Africa”… and then we were greeted by our amazing tour guide who took us to our airconned shuttle and took us to our amazing resort – Diamonds Mapenzi …We were greeted with Hibiscus juice and friendly staff who introduced themselves and told us a bit about the hotel and it’s facilities. We were then shown to our room… We quickly unpacked and made our way to the pool area to test out as many of their delicious cocktails as we could!!
Day 2: “Sea Safari”
Our second day in Zanzibar began with a “sea safari” with one of the “beach boys”. These guys know the ocean and their beach extremely well and offer to take you on a walk to the reef at low tide. Don’t be fooled by their friendly gestures to just “chat” – they do expect a very big tip at the end of the walk. We knew this and opted to walk ourselves, but one beach boy refused – and just as well he did! He knew all the pathways to get to the reef – these paths are lined with thousands of urchins which he pointed out as we walked. We learnt a lot about their sea creatures and the sea weed farms. Beach boys are technically not allowed to charge you so they mention a tip – ask your tour guide on arrival what amount of tips each service provider should get. Usually, one tips from $5 – $20 depending on the service – as we didn’t know this yet, our beach boys took advantage of this as we ended up giving them a very good tip!! We counted the experience as an excursion and enjoyed the rest of the day lounging by the pool and getting to know the hotel’s awesome staff and activities…“Sponge Ink” is what the locals call this sea slug type animal. If you squeeze it, it squirts ink – just like an octopus This is an urchin that can’t be touched at all! Look how beautiful the neon purple markings are on it?!This is a type of starfish that they call a “sea spider”. The rocks are covered with these – hundreds and thousands of them. With my fear of spiders, I was a little freaked out walking amongst them. Walking on the reef and learning about it’s ecosystem, the tides and the animals that live thereUrchins urchins URCHINS!Our guides for the morning
Day 3: Spice Tour, Stone Town, Prison island:
We thoroughly enjoyed the Spice Tour and learning about all the spices and herbs that we usually cook with. The tour guides literally take roots and pieces from each plant for you to smell and keep – they explain how it grows & what is it used for. We found this very interesting…
“Pili pili” which means Chilli This is a seed that they use to paint their faces / add colour to food dishes…Bananas Tumeric Coffee beans and flowersThis man sang as he climbed a tall palm tree – he grabbed a coconut from the top and offered it to us as a refreshment at the end of our tour.They made us these crowns etc out of palm leaves as we walked through the farm. At the end they gave the items to us as gifts – Tim’s tie could even loosen or tighten at the neck.
Next stop: Stone Town & Prison Island
We visited the Slave Museum and cathedral, walked around the town and then caught a boat to Prison Island to see the tortoises…
When the cathedral was built, the engineer went on holiday in the last two weeks of the building process and left the workers to finish the job. When he got back, he noticed that the pillars had been placed upside down.Freddie Mercury’s childhood homeLeaving for Prison IslandPrison Island
Day 4: Beach walks, relaxation, sea kayaking and ending the day off with a pool side dinner at the hotel.
Day 5: Safari Blue
Highly recommended!! Safari Blue was one of the highlights of our trip. We took a dhow to a deserted island where we snorkelled two reefs just off the island. We then had lunch on the island and explored the 100 year old Baobab trees. Our guides then took us into a mangrove lake to swim in on our way home. What a beautiful experience!!
Walking to the dhowsOur dhow was stuck on a sand bank so we all had to lean on the left side of the dhow as much as we could to get it off the sandDeep sea snorkelling – reef 1Shallow snorkelling – reef 2Fresh coconuts on boardLunch is served!Baobab exploringDhows lined up and ready to go!Mangrove lake swimming – this was all sand when we first arrived at the island.
Day 6: Rest & relaxation – enjoying the hotel & beach before leaving the following dayMeeting the Massai-MaraVisiting Zanzibar schoolsEnding off with a beautiful beach dinner
Day 7: Home time
We were very sad to leave Zanzibar and cannot wait to revisit!
Saying goodbye to our awesome hotel friend – ShumaOur amazing guide – Omar collecting us for the air port.A Dala Dala (nick-named after what it cost for a ride a few years ago – 1 dollar)
Things we learnt:
When checking out, one must pay $1 per day spent in Zanzibar – be sure to add this into your budget! Tipping is what many of the locals live on – tipping can be anything from $5 – $25 depending on how good the service was. Ladies, bring along a long flowing dress, something light and cool to wear when you need to cover up during the out-of-hotel activities. Try a ZANZIBAR PIZZA!! Learn some Swahili! Our hotel offered short 1 hour courses on the beach (what an amazing idea?!) Exchange your money in SA – be sure to take your FICA documents when you do! Do your research, read travel blogs and reviews before visiting an area, find out all the exciting things one can do and see! I spent months googling and searching the hashtag #zanzibar on instagram to see what everyone was doing. SA residents, it is not necessary to get a yellow fever shot when flying directly to Zanzibar. High and low tide are extreme. At low tide the sea can be about 1km away and at high tide it can be right up against the hotel wall. I hope this post has inspired you to enjoy the island as much as we did !!
See you again soon, Zanzibar