I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know whether I was excited or scared. Excited because this would be my first time on a plane and scared because this would be my FIRST TIME ON A PLANE.
The evening before we were expected to begin our journey, I couldn’t sleep. I just didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. But little did I know, paradise was waiting on the other side.
Zanzibar is situated in Tanzania. The people of Zanzibar mostly speak Swahili. Most of them have learned to speak English in order to communicate with the many tourists who have travelled from across the globe to come and experience this little piece of heaven.
Our adventure began in Stone Town. This is the main city of Zanzibar. In Stone Town, you will find many tourists wandering the never-ending streets and taking pictures in front of doors that will have you believing that it is the doorway to a magical world.
One thing that was not fun, was the intense heat. The weather was constantly humid and I always felt the need to take a shower after every walk. We were told that in April it is winter and the weather we were experiencing at that moment was nothing compared to the real summer days.
We met Hamadi, our taxi driver, who gave us a mini tour of Stone Town while on our way to our hotel.
Mizingani Seafront Hotel is exactly the way the name describes it. Situated on the beachfront and close to the harbour, it is an absolute dream and definitely one to be considered when visiting Stone Town.
We stayed in a big, beautiful room with a balcony with the best view of the ocean and harbour. The clear water is something you can only picture in your dreams… or something you’ll probably only experience in heaven.
Stone Town comes alive in the night time as the Night Market is something all tourists can look forward to. Here you can experience the various types of food the people in Zanzibar have to offer. Something you should know is that these people can make the most delicious food. One dish we loved was the Zanzibar mix. This dish is also popularly known as Ujoro Soup. Ujoro Soup is filled with potatoes, cassava shavings, coconut chutney, bhajias with hot sauce. The different spices that are added to this warm dish will make you want to ask the woman making it for the recipe. It is something that you’ve never experienced before but an experience that you will be grateful for. #UjoroForTheWin.
Another thing you should know is this place is FILLED with cats… EVERYWHERE. Some of the tourists loved it but I got a bit annoyed as the cats would bother you when you’re sitting at a restaurant and the good old “go away” trick doesn’t work at all. I was so afraid. So if cats are not your favourite, the Night Market in Stone Town is probably not for you. I haven’t seen any dogs for the whole duration of my stay in Stone Town, just a whole lot of cats.
According to a blogger named Tilla Erasmus, it is said that the “7th Century Arabs believed that cats were pure-spirited and pre-Islamic Arabs were said to have worshipped a Golden Cat“. Muslims are taught that cats should be loved and cherish. It is believed to be a sin if one mistreats a cat.
One place every tourist should go to is Changuu Island, popularly known as Prison Island.
The only way to get to Prison Island is by boat. For those of you who have sensitive stomachs and get seasick, you might want to sit this one out. But the trip is all worth it once you arrive at Prison Island.
The island was a place where rebellious slaves were kept. It later became a quarantine station for people with yellow fever.
Prison Island is known for it’s Aldabra giant tortoises. These tortoises were originally a gift from the British governor of Seychelles.
The size of these tortoises will intimidate you at first. But when you realize that they are really harmless and loves the attention, you would not want to leave. We were allowed to touch the tortoises and feed them. Despite being hesitant to go anywhere close to these dinosaur-like creatures, I gathered up the courage and put my fear aside and fed and touched a tortoise.
The tortoises will make you want to spend the entire day just staring at them while they go about their day, slowly. The babies are really tiny and are kept in a separate cage close to the older tortoises. You cannot touch the babies, but watching them slowly trying to find their way will leave you swooning.
One thing we were extremely pleased with was how safe it was in Zanzibar. While waiting for our driver to arrive, we sat in the hotel lobby clutching our luggage tightly. When the hotel manager noticed this, he asked why we were sitting inside, instead of enjoying the beautiful sunny day outside. We told him that we needed to be close to our luggage because we were afraid of someone stealing it. With a confused look on the manager’s face, he reassured us that Zanzibar is extremely safe and that no one would take something that didn’t belong to them. We were sceptical about it but soon realized that what he was telling us was true.
Zanzibar is extremely safe and at no point on the trip did we feel unsafe. The people are extremely friendly and always ready to help. But one thing you have to be careful of is everything in Zanzibar has a price, let me explain. When asking for directions at some point, this friendly man quickly offered to explain exactly where we would find certain tourist attractions in the area. Once we walked away, the man seemed to be following us and when we asked why he was walking with us, he asked if we weren’t going to pay him. We soon realized that every question comes with a price and that it would be best to ask the people working at the hotel for help. Trust me, this is the best way to find places in the area. The people at the hotel will not expect any money, they just really happy to help and do their jobs.
A website, Enchanting Travels, confirmed Zanzibar’s safety. “As tourism is the primary source of income in Zanzibar, the local authorities take the safety of tourists very seriously.”
The next stop was Kendwa. Kendwa is a Tanzanian village situated in Unguja.
When we arrived in Kendwa, all we could focus on was how beautiful the beach was. There was something about the ocean that demanded your attention and your time. Its beauty was captivating and made you feel like you were on holiday. The vacation you never knew you needed.
There are lots of things to do in Kendwa. There’s an option of going snorkelling and you can go on a romantic boat trip to watch the sunset.
In Kendwa, you can easily see that it is way different from the city. This part of Zanzibar is made for tourists. This is what you see in pictures when searching for your next holiday destination. People are laying in the sun, catching a tan and swimming. In the evening, a group of guys from the area take their mind off things by playing a game of soccer on the beach. While others enjoy some of the island’s finest cocktails, looking out at the breathtaking view.
Visiting Zanzibar has made me realize that there are so many things one can be grateful for. While being in Stone Town, it was evident that those people did not have much, but their smiles said a thousand words.
This should definitely be one of the destinations on your bucket list.
Check out the video of our Zanzibar trip below!