It takes an exceptional experience to make me go back to a destination. Zanzibar is one of those destinations I always want to go back to. The first time I went to Zanzibar in 2014 was quite impromptu. Kenya Airways was resuming their flight service to Zanzibar after a hiatus so when I saw the incredible offer for a return flight ticket to Zanzibar of $99 for a ticket that normally costs an upwards of $ 300, I snatched it up
Since the offer was limited I bought the ticket quickly and then started looking around for accomodation. I was on a tight budget and Zanzibar is not exactly cheap. I eventually settled for Mbuyuni Beach Village which is in the East Coast of Zanzibar, between Paje and Jambiani. The accomodation rate was $35 per night inclusive of breakfast.
Mbuyuni Beach Village is about 45 minutes drive from Zanzibar airport and I also needed to get around the island so for convenience I opted to rent a car and got this Suzuki Escudo 3 door for $35 per day.
I requested a friend to arrange for someone to meet me at the airport and guide me to the hotel since it I was going to be arriving at around midnight, I was going to be alone and I didn’t know how to get to the hotel.
When I travel to a new place I always want to get there during the day so that I can figure my way around but in this case I had no control over the timing since, well, terms and conditions of the ticket applied.
On the day of travel, I arrived at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, Zanzibar at around 2345 hours and found the guy from the car hire company waiting for me just once I exited the airport. He kept looking behind as if he was expecting someone else.
‘Umekuja na nani? Mume wako? Boyfriend? Ako wapi‘ (who did you come with? Your husband? Boyfriend? Where is he) he asked
‘Nimekuja pekee yangu’ (I travelled by myself) I responded
‘Daaah! Umesafiri pekee yako? Kwa nini?’ (what? you are travelling alone? why?) he was so surprised.Maybe even shocked.
He led me to the car and handed me the keys. The guide came to meet me and said hello then proceeded to his car. I got into the hired car and we headed out of the airport, with me driving behind the guide.
About 15 minutes into the drive I realized I had not collected my check-in luggage!! I flashed my headlight continously to get the attention of the guide and we turned around and headed back to the airport
Luckily by the time we got there they had not yet locked up so I was able to get my luggage, put it in the car and we set off once again. We arrived at the bungalows, I checked in and promptly went to sleep.
For the two days I was in Zanzibar I visited Jozani Forest to see the red colobus monkeys and mangrove forest. Zanzibar is also famous for spices so a visit there would be incomplete without a tour of a spice farm where you get to learn a bit about the history of spices, the types of spices grown there – you get to smell the spices and guess what they are- and you can also buy various spices. I particularly loved the locally made perfume with lavender scent, the smell is so heavenly.
Zanzibar’s stonetown is enchanting, full of vibrant people and rich in history. The architecture is amazing and it was great to see all the buildings made out of coral rocks and the beautiful artistic doors.
I went for the very touristy but very amazing dhow ride. I also enjoyed the nightlife in Paje, there was a beach party going on every night! I loved the street food and ate that for most of my stay. I only ate at a restaurant once.
Forodhani Gardens in stone town is also a great place to visit. In the evenings there is plenty of street food and you can watch young men diving off the pier into the sea, each dive more fancy than the previous one.
I went back to Zanzibar 4 years later, with my Mum and sister. This time I did not need a guide as we arrived during the day so I just hired a Suzuki Grand Vitara (5 door) from Zanzibar Best Car Rental who are really amazing and I would totally recommend, for $30 per day and used Google maps to get to my destination. We stayed at Uroa Bay Beach Resort in Uroa.
Aside from the jozani forest tour, stone town tour, spice tour and hanging out at Forodhani, we also visited the Zanzibar butterfly center , Darajani market and took a boat ride to Prison Island, learnt about the history of slave trade and also saw the giant tortoises on the island. We also had lunch at the very popular Lukmaan restuarant. Another restuarant which we went to and really enjoyed the food was Zenj Food Lovers Joint. So aptly named because we are food lovers. 🙂
There is not much going on in the Uroa area in terms of nightlife. Luckily the hotel put on very nice shows each night with different themes. On the last day of our trip we decided to just stay at the hotel and by the beach, soaking in the sun, eating sumptuous food, drinking cocktails and swimming.
Zanzibar still remains one of my favourite holiday destinations. The people are amazing, very kind, helpful, warm and welcoming. I think there is something about island people. All the islands I have gone to the people have been really really nice. The beaches are white and beautiful. The history is captivating. It is just magical.
I will share my tips on travel to Zanzibar: what to do, where to stay, how to get around, etc. on a separate post.