Not always must a wall necessarily be built of brick, sometimes it is not tangible, not visible but is felt. Unguja, erroneously known by all as the island of Zanzibar, made me live two distinct situations though in just a single step. In/out.
Inside, side of the beach in one of the many resorts where we are, and, out beyond that wall that separates the hotels from the villages, them, living with almost no real integration with the tourist closed in a world of its own.
Very different from the Tanzania I know so far, chaotic and all-encompassing, Zanzibar represented the end of the journey that lasted two months, in a huge country that has tired me beyond belief catapulting me in a dimension hitherto unknown, that of the beaches, the resorts, of the Western lifestyle implanted in a profoundly different cultural context, remember that Zanzibar is 90% Muslim.
An island of a thousand facets, mainly known for its idyllic beaches and the sailings on a dhow, but also for the spices and the colorful Stone Town Market, the turtles of Nungwi Natural Aquarium, and a particular charm that so much distinguishes it from the Continent. Unguja, that from now on I will call Zanzibar conscious of making a mistake, is relaxation and the sea that those traveling in the dusty Tanzania desire and look for, and that presents itself as a country in itself, distinct that at the beginning left me quite puzzled, making me feel OTHER than those same others that, until now, had had the ability to catapult me into their world of discussions about cows, cattle and huts.
And yet, it just needs a little time to get to the heart of this island where chaos seems to be a priority of Stone Town and the quiet and semi-deserted beaches even in high season captivate and invite into the sweet “do nothing” letting yourself be pampered by the sun burning on sand white as snow.
Prettu ready to go back to #Africa. Some memories about the last year spent traveling around the black continent. #zanzibar #jambianibeach #africa #tanzania #beautifuldestination #passportready #passionpassport #naturelover #ocean #sea #bbctravel #natgeocreative #natgeotravel #LP #travelblogger #viaggiatori #viaggi #worldphoto #photooftheday #igeroftheday
What to do in Zanzibar
Zanzibar is very large and the activities to do are many, not just lounging in the sun or by the pool. This is a selection of the activities that I recommend.
Stone Town and the spice tour
The excursion begins usually at one of the spice plantations, where the secrets and uses of spices such as vanilla, cloves, cardamom, pepper, ginger, nutmeg and tropical fruit trees will be revealed.
The tour then continues to the island’s capital where you will visit the slave market and the market of today colorful and chaotic as well as the city, famous for some important architectural structures, such as the palace of the Sultan, better known as the house of wonders, and the house of Freddy Mercury, who, for those who do not know, was born on this island.
Snorkeling in Dhow from Jambiani
As a place to stay, recommended by a friend seen in Zanzibar for 10 years, I chose Jambiani beach that remains among other things, my favorite beach.
Here it is easy to find some Dhow owner who, at low tide will take you on a nice private tour and snorkeling in the fantastic waters of this still fairly pristine corner of the Zanzibar coast.
Also known as Changuu, Prison Island is a small island 6 kilometers north-west of South Town.
Besides the wonderful snorkeling in its coral areas the real attractions of this place are the huge turtles, some have more than 180 years, and the slave museum. The waters are among the most beautiful of the island, with luck the dolphins that inhabit these waters can also be seen.
For booking the tour to Prison Island click here.
Recently declared a marine conservation area, Mnemba Island is a coral atoll surrounded by thriving, vibrant and crystal clear reefs of the Indian Ocean. The waters are teeming with a huge number of tropical fish, green turtles. On the return trip, if at high tide, you have the opportunity to visit Muyuni Beach.
This is an island that is seen only at low tide, a sandbar that appears and disappears. The island is a 30 minute boat ride from Zanzibar. My advice is to ask the locals to organize the tour for you, maybe in a way to avoid the crowds of resort tourists that flock to this heavenly place.
Make sure you arrive at low tide, and to leave when the high tide comes back, but the guys will know how to help you.
Generally, included in the cost is also a lunch of seafood. This tour is usually offered in combination with Prison Island.
A very beautiful and varied tour, only problem is the overcrowding due to the fact that now this is one of the most popular tours of the entire island. We start in the morning with a dhow to reach the strip of sand that appears only at low tide. After snorkeling follows the visit to Kwale island where we normally have the seafood lunch. The day ends with a visit to the mangroves around the lagoon.
Mkokotoni Fish Market and the northern beaches
It is worth visiting the fish market of Mkokotoni, a small traditional village famous for its fish. After the visit, you should do in the morning when the market is active, you can continue the visit to Nungwi and the nursery of marine turtles, created to preserve and defend them from extinction at Nungwi Natural Aquarium.
The best beaches of Zanzibar
One goes to Zanzibar for the sea and the island is famous for the phenomenon of the tides that make its beaches special, not always appropriate for bathing but very suggestive.
Wherever you go in Zanzibar you will not go wrong but what follows is my personal ranking. The beaches that make Zanzibar a unique place.
My favorite and where I stayed for the entire period. It is not yet besieged by tourists like many other better-known areas and most of all, the total absence of large resorts.
The beach is huge and beautiful, walking toward the south, you will reach a strip of sand that, at low tide, is surely the most beautiful of the whole island.
The beach is very beautiful and very quiet, white sand, clear water and coral reefs nearby. From here you can organize the dhow ride to Mnemba atoll.
Like other beaches of Zanzibar the phenomenon of the tides is quite interesting but if you arrive at the wrong hour, it will be impossible to swim. A 20-minute walk, at low tide, makes it possible for you to reach the barrier.
Kizimkazi was the capital of the island under the power of pre-Oman Wawinyi Wakuu. A beautiful beach and a few resorts make this place special. Known by tourists for the tours with dolphins, what characterizes this village is the presence of the oldest mosque in East Africa.
Michamvi and The Rock
A beach with a special charm thanks to the rocky cliffs and the mangroves. Famous area to admire the sunset and perhaps better known for The Rock restaurant, a small restaurant built on the rock accessible by foot at low tide and by boat, service of the restaurant, at high tide.
The prices are quite high and the food is not that good but this place represents Zanzibar in the popular imagination.
Getting around Zanzibar
Although Zanzibar is a very well-organized tourist destination, apart from your hotel/resort, you return to the scarcely equipped and logistically unnerving Tanzania.
The dala-dala pass by infrequently and takes hours to go 50 km. There are no times nor stations in the small centers but you have to wait for the dala-dala to honk to announce its arrival, rush to the streets to stop it and hope that there is enough place for you to get in.
Obviously, it is the cheapest solution but it does amplify travel times.
The best and easiest solutions are to rent a car or use a taxi. An international driving license is not requested to rent a car but you must obtain a permit from the police paying around ten dollars that will allow you to drive on the island. Alternatively, travel on taxis makes transport easy and simple, just ask your hotel to have one organized.
How to get to Zanzibar
The solutions to get to Zanzibar from Tanzania are 3 depending on the place of departure.
If you start from Arusha, the best option is to fly from Kilimanjaro to Stone Town.
It’s important to know that if the idea is to take the catamaran from Dar es Salaam you will need to consider at least a day traveling by bus and probably a night in Dar, it’s unlikely for you to arrive in time to catch the catamaran in the same day after the long journey by bus. Do not rely on the times that the drivers tell you, you will probably arrive one if not two hours after the scheduled time.
If you leave from Dar Es Salaam, the catamarans are comfortable, fast and cheap (it is recommended to buy your ticket at least one day before departure whether you leave from Dar or from Stone Town).
The problem is that you have to be in Dar Es Salaam which is quite far from Arusha, the majority of tourists combines Safari northern parks and Zanzibar.
For more information click here.
If you leave from Pangani it is possible to arrive by speed boat but it is a journey not really very simple and very adventurous. It is not recommended for those who are afraid of the sea and wants to travel comfortably. I would invite you to go to the bathroom before boarding the boat or you will end up like me in the middle of the sea to dive into the water with a number of people watching while I kept close to the ladder to not fall in completely in view of the waves. The cost, in this case, depends on the number of people on the boat, they do not depart daily and can be arranged by the Pangani tourist center.
Zanzibar offers beautiful sea and beachlide but also some of the most incredible tides in the world. #zanzibar #tanzania #traveldiary #travelblogger #african #ocean #africancreatives #beautifuldestination #wanderlust #wanderer #travel #travelling #aroundtheworldpics #aroundtheworld #passionpassport #passportready #nature #landscape #landscapelover #love #holidays
Where to stay in Zanzibar
I state beforehand that my choice on where to stay fell on Jambiani on the advice of a friend who lives on the island for 10 years now. Solution that could not be more apt because after driving along almost the entire coast, I can say that it is a beautiful corner where, above all, there are not yet large hotels and several resorts or villages that spoil these wonderful places.
Jambiani not only has a beautiful beach but the phenomenon of the tides makes it even more spectacular, especially at low tide, I invite you to stroll south to reach the strips of sand that while you walk, beside you women sitting on the wet sand take care of seaweed cultivation.
The North has not particularly impressed me, it is where are concentrated the large resorts all-inclusive, which is why after visiting the length and breadth of the island, I confirm Jambiani as my favorite corner (as long as they will not build other resorts, until today, it is probably one of the wildest stretches of coast).
Tanzania offers a very interesting and trilling trip!
Safari among the best in the continent, Swahili culture and dream islands. Zanzibar is definitely very special, and also very different from the rest of the country, especially if you have traveled Tanzania in length and breadth. A detour that gives a different and intriguing face to this amazing African trip.
I travel independently taking mainly public transport. A world trip began in 2011 is not yet finished, my mission is to explore the world and write about it. Travel consultant Galapagos, Argentina, Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Namibia.