Okay, so maybe I’ve been too many places already and my enthusiasm wanes from time to time. The scuba diving and snorkeling were fine. Wish we could do that more often. The waters were crystal clear and the scenery was gorgeous by the sea. The food was very good. People were friendly…except for some of the men who pester and badger the tourists in Stone Town to be “guide for the day.” Annoying when they don’t take the first five NO’s as no’s. Instead they follow you down the street chattering and interjecting as if I wasn’t there to be with my spouse on vacation. Several times I had to resort to, “Look. Why do you think I’m here on Zanzibar?” Blank stare. “To be with my wife on a nice holiday, not to be with you. Do you understand?” And as he continues to walk along with us, “But why won’t you support the locals? This is my way to earn money.” “I am supporting the locals. Who do you think works at the hotels, the restaurants, the beaches?” “But you won’t support me.” “Support you too!? And the six other guys who accost us each day? How can I support EVERYONE IN STONE TOWN! Leave us now.” By now Barbara is two blocks ahead of me.
Zanzibar is “the spice island” and they take pride in their cooking. A first for me was to be among a population that is 98% Muslim. But the tourist areas served alcohol in many restaurants. What the locals won’t do is let you visit the inside of a mosque if you are not Muslim. We tried three places. A disappointment for Barbara, but we have both been inside nice mosques before.
An adventurous aspect of our holiday was navigating the island in our rental car (more left side driving) with a minimalist map. But we found our destinations each day eventually, if it took 50-100% longer than the inhabitants did it.
In the interest of Full Disclosure you should know that while my appetite was good and the hotel room was very comfortable, I had “runny tummy” EVERY day including a few days after leaving Zanzibar. On returning to Namibia I saw the wonderful PC medical staff in Windhoek who gave me excellent advice that got me back on track within two days of coming home to Keetmanshoop. So the island romance and exotic pleasures were more than a bit thwarted by a daily dose of diarrhea along with the resultant low energy at the end of the day. I tried to make the best of it.
The roads across the island were usually lined with school children, most in uniforms walking to and from mosques and schools. The discipline of the Muslim families was evident in the behavior of the children. They were having fun at the same time. And people tried their very best to help us with directions when we stopped to ask. Though it seems that giving a wrong answer is much preferred to providing no answer or “Sorry, I don’t really know.”
The Mizingani Seafront Hotel was charming and comfortable. Our room had mosquito netting, aircon, a small balcony, flat screen TV, fridge, beautiful bath, loads of space and a sea view. The dive company, Scuba Fish, lived up to the reviews and we really enjoyed the instructors and guests.
The tour of the Jozani Shwaka Bay National Park was just a couple of hours, but we loved seeing the red colobus monkeys swinging overhead with tiny babies clinging to the mothers. The mahogany forest was interesting as was the narration by our guide.
The spice market in Stone Town was really an “everything market” and very interesting, crowded and chocked with variety. I was tempted to load 5 kilos of fresh spices into our bags, but our budget did not stretch that far.
We opted not to go on a spice tour but would recommend that if you visit the archipelago.
US $ 2,170 for six nights, breakfasts and RT airfare. Not bad at all.
those are Tanzanian shillings