Zanzibar – Travel Diary

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Crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, palm trees, mangos and bananas?
This sounds like paradise and yes it really is! Zanzibar is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I am going to tell you why.

Zanzibar

Last week I traveled together with a friend to Zanzibar, which is a Tanzanian archipelago (group of islands) off the coast of beautiful East Africa. On its main island, Zanzibar, is Stone Town located – a historic trade center with Swahili and Islamic influences and its colourful markets, its minarets, carved doorways and 19th-century landmarks such as the House of Wonders, a former sultan’s palace… but more about this later.
So we flew from Abu Dhabi to Dar es Salam and then from there to Zanzibar with a mini-safari plane. We went by Coastal Aviation and the ticket price was around 90$ per person for two ways.
You can also find many other providers there as these little shops/agencies are directly located at Dar es Salam Airport after you exit the airport.
Another recommendation from my side is that you already exchange money in your country before your arrive at Dar es Salam as the costs for us Germans for Visa on arrival are 50$ which you have to pay in cash and as there are no ATM’s at the airport it’s better if you have the money directly with you.
So after we purchased our tickets outside the airport, with Coastal Aviation, the Salesperson took us to the free shuttle bus which drove us to the smaller airport in town. This drive takes around 15 minutes, depending on the traffic. As soon you reach there you can check in for the connecting flight to Zanzibar. The free baggage allowance is 15 kg per bag and person which was no problem for us as we took only cabin baggage with us.
After waiting a little bit, we boarded the small safari plane around 3 and took off on time at 3.30. After a 20 minutes flight we landed smooth at Zanzibar airport, which is really small.
As soon you exit the airport there are already a few guys standing to offer you taxi rides etc. It’s worth to negotiate with them as the price range is very wide and you shouldn’t give up too early. We went for example from Zanzibar airport to Pwani Mchangani which is at the east of the Island and around a 1 hour drive. The guys wanted 60$ from us and we went down to 35$. The car wasn’t the nicest but the driver was nice and efficient and explained us lots of the country so we also booked him for our way back. His name is Musa and he will be happy if you contact him as well should you be in Zanzibar soon. Contact me if you like to receive is phone number 🙂

Our resort was located in Pwani Mchangani. It’s called Ocean Paradise Resort and Spa and this was really a paradise at the ocean. See my pictures attached and I don’t need lots to write, do I?

The costs for 4 people for 3 nights including breakfast and dinner were around 1,400$ which is a really good price for this amazing and beautiful resort.
The little villas were clean and modern, no insects/bugs inside and the room service came twice a day to check the room and tidy it up.
The beds were big and very comfortable. Also the food was really good as they offered various meals for breakfast from bread to cereals, pancakes, waffles, fresh regional fruits, coffee, tea, fresh juices etc. Also for dinner they had a big buffet and live BBQ stations with fresh seafood and different kinds of meat. Also the price for alcoholic drinks and cocktails were totally fine. So we paid in the end around 40$ each for 4 days for the drinks and lunch (which was not included in our half board). I think that’s super cheap and was really good!

One day we spend relaxing at the resort and the other day we booked a tour to Stone Town, the historical center of Zanzibar.
This tour was booked directly trough the guest relations office at the hotel and was 35$ each for a half day trip.
It was really impressive, to be honest, and a very good experience as we had a very good guide who taught us so much about the history of Zanzibar and especially about the slavery before the 19th century. For the excursion we walked through the city of Stone Town and stopped at several spots to learn more about the history of the island.

Another really good exercise was the visit at the spice, fish, meat and vegetable market at the city. So many people, so many smells, so many things! I was overwhelmed by all this and tried to catch some of the impressions on my pictures

Sights to see in Stone town:

  • Prison Island
  • Forodhani Park
  • Nakupenda Beach
  • The Old Fort
  • House of Wonders
  • Freddy Mercury House
  • Old Slave Market (Anglican Church)

Unfortunately we didn’t had time to do a Blue Safari, which is a tour where you can discover the beautiful oceanic world of Zanzibar with its corals, fish and other animals. My friends did this when they went to Zanzibar and said it’s definitely worth it to do one of the Blue Safari tours. So if you are around and have some more time, please do so and let me know about our wonderful experience.

Summary and suggestions:
Take cash to pay your Visa on arrival.
Take already enough cash before as ATM’s are very rare in Zanzibar (Only in Stone Town).
Take mosquito protection with you.
Take long clothes with you to protect yourself from mosquito and to respect the Islam religion in public.
Don’t accept the first given price for taxi rides, tours, at the shops etc. and negotiate with the people. They are all friendly and you can save lots of money. And it makes the people in the end happier if you leave them a bigger tip.

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