Say Jambo to Zanzibar
For EID holidays my friends and I were deciding where to go. We had narrowed it down to 4 options. Pintrest boards were made as well as a list of pros and cons and the small island of Zanzibar, off the Tanzanian coast came up trump.
Zanzibar is a 5 and a half hour direct flight from DXB. We flew at 4am and arrived at 8am with the time difference which gave us a full day upon arrival. We stayed for 3 nights and had 4 full days to explore the island.
We arranged an airport transfer with our hotel for a set fee. We stayed up North in a little town called Nungwi which is about an hour and a half drive from the airport. Our hotel was a 4* star boutique hotel called The Zanzibari. The manager made us feel very welcome and offered us cold drinks upon arrival. After check in we were taken to our rooms. We stayed on the ground floor of a two story bungalow. The Zanzibari has it’s own private beach as well as pool with a bar and plunge pools overlooking the ocean.
Safari Blue Tour – This was our highlight of our trip without a doubt. The tour consisted of dolphin watching, multiple snorkeling stops, a quick stop on a sand bank followed by a BBQ lunch of freshly caught seafood, local Kilimanjaro beer and the option to climb a fallen Baobab tree.
The Rock – I’d highly recommend lunch at this unique restaurant perched on top of a rock in the middle of the ocean. Refer to my post here.
Prison Island – Our driver for the day who also took us to The Rock, then drove us to Stone Town where you can catch small boats from the beach over to Prison Island. We did not book a tour however we paid our drivers “friend” $40USD plus tip in total to take the 4 of us for a return boat trip. The entrance to the Tortoise Sanctuary was USD$4 per adult.
The lovely English manager gave us a tour with commentary including history about the Island and the tortoises. We even got to hold the baby tortoises which are kept in a locked cage and guarded by security at night to prevent people from stealing them.
Fodrohni markets – Is very popular amongst tourists and locals and it’s where you can buy street food. You can judge for yourself whether you should eat there but we decided to stick to more established restaurants.
Stone Town – If you’re going here in the daylight, I assume it would be fine. We however visited late one afternoon as the sun was going down. I had done a lot of research about where to eat in Stone Town and wanted to head to one particular restaurant. We set off in the winding maze of stone buildings and uneven footpaths.
We asked for help and were shown in many different directions which lead us around in circles. After feeling frustrated and now walking around in the pitch black with motorbikes beeping as they rode past our safety net quickly dwindled and we followed a group of mothers and children right out of there and back onto a main road. Now personally I would recommend for anyone that wishes to go and experience Stone Town to take a tour. As even in broad daylight you are bound to get lost.
Orphanage – On our final day in Zanzibar we spent the morning relaxing on the beach and taking in the stunning view and serenity. We noticed we hadn’t spent as much as we’d anticipated we therefore decided to leave our hotel a little earlier and asked the manager about any local orphanages that our driver could stop at on our way back to the airport so we could meet the kids and make a donation.
It’s sad to know that a lot of these children are without families but these shelters make sure the kids get the love and attention they need. Not to mention food, water, shelter and also education.
Vaccinations – Not essential (I checked with various people) however to be on the safe side I got a yellow fever jab (which lasts for 10 years) and also started taking malaria tablets but I personally wouldn’t recommend taking them as the side effects can be quite bad. Do your research. Instead, load up with highly effective insect repellent and be sure to wear clothing to cover your arms and legs, especially in the evenings.
DO: Take USD. The Zanzibari Shilling is rarely used.
DO: Tip and round up
DO: Book your tours
DO: Your research on the best areas to stay depending on the length of your trip.
DO: Learn the local lingo. Just some basic phrases will get you by.
DON’T: Drink the tap water. Drink bottled water only.
DON’T: Book a hotel that has a non-cancellation policy like we did. As we did find something closer and more affordable however it was too late to cancel. Although in the end it worked out fine as we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Zanzibari.
Traveled September 2015
Flights: AED 1740 – You can fly direct from DXB to ZAN with flydubai. They run a once a day service.
Accommodation: AED 1040pp based on twin share in a garden room at The Zanzabri Hotel. Read my review here.
Visa: USD 50 payable upon arrival
Tours: Safari Blue – USD65pp
Spending: I took USD400 which was more than enough. Food is relatively cheap even at 5 star establishments.