Escape: Zanzibar

I wrote poetry for you last week. I tried to paint a brief picture of my quick escape to Zanzibar. Apart from sharing the poetry, I’m finding it hard to fully describe my experience. The words escape me. I’m sure its because since returning home, I haven’t been able to stop raving about how keen I am to go back or how beautiful the beaches are. I’ve tried to find new words to share, out of fear of sounding repetitive, but alas all I have is tropical paradise, breathtaking, peaceful and gorgeous to tell you the story of Zanzibar’s infectious allure. I could talk about the delicious food, the different variations of a vast blue ocean, the soft white sand, the friendly natives or the vibrant colours but none of these would put in to words what felt like a fairy tale.

I understand why Zanzibar is a hot spot for travel junkies or honeymooners. It is paradise. I haven’t been to many yet, but Zanzibar has to be one of the most beautiful African islands. It boasts a dynamic African culture with a bit of an Arabic twist, which combines many different linguistic, cultural, and religious influences. I went with a group of girls, six of us in total. Two good friends and I was meeting three for the first time. Six women, six nights, we were drowning in excitement. From the moment we arrived in Stone Town, we were welcomed by a thick breeze from the Indian Ocean.

Where To Stay

You can experience affordable luxury at Smiles Beach Hotel, which is right at the foot of the beach found in the coastal fishing village of Nungwi. This is where we stayed. The views are exotic. Every morning greets you with an amazing sunrise and every evening a breathtaking sunset. Palm trees fill the skies. The hotel staff are over the top friendly, there’s no way you won’t make friends for a lifetime. It’s such a warm atmosphere here. Although we stayed in Nungwi, I would also recommend you check out Kendwa, that’s only a few kilometres away. During one of our sunset cruises down the stretch of the ocean, we witnessed beautiful resorts along Kendwa beach. You won’t go wrong with either. They’re both very laid back but filled with restaurants and beach bars that make staying here also quite lively.

What To Eat

Simple. The fruit. You have to eat the fruit. Juicy fruit greeted us each morning for our breakfast. From sweet bananas to mouth watering pineapple (my favourite), mango and watermelon. I know you’re by the ocean and the obvious answer should be sea food, and yes of course you should eat all the sea food you can here. You can get freshly caught prawns, barracuda, lobster, kingfish, octopus or squid. If you haven’t had East African cuisine before, you need to. Try chapati’s and pilau. Not everyone has the tastebuds for coconuts, but its no surprise that they’re every where on the island. Try them on their own or in a spicy sauce.

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What To Do

I don’t know where to begin with this one. If you’re like me and you like to experience everything you can in a new place, you’ll enjoy what Zanzibar has to offer. We started our vacation off with a few beach activities. A snorkelling trip and sunset cruise. The coral reefs make swimming in the ocean a beautiful experience. Definitely take a tour through a spice farm. You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn about the growth and uses of spices. You also have an opportunity to buy as many as you want and trust me, you’ll want to. Then take a walk through Stone Town, the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, singer and song writer of the rock band Queen. This is where you’ll get a glimpse of the everyday life of a Zanzibari. The old town is characterised by a rich history, narrow alleyways packed tightly with historic buildings and the most stunning doors.

Go to a beach party. At least one. There’s one every night at a different spot from Wednesday through to Sunday. You meet a lot of people here and have a view of several Maasai warrior’s dancing. We didn’t get a chance to, but you can visit Prison Island, swim with dolphins, watch fishermen build their Dhow boats and visit Jozani Forest to meet Zanzibar’s red monkeys. If you have the time, you could also explore Pemba Island just north of Zanzibar. Or you could indulge in some beach volleyball and just lounge by the pool or the beach and enjoy listening to waves crashing against the shore. I wasn’t ready to leave. So its definite that I’ll be going back. The only bit I didn’t really enjoy were the stray cats that slink nonchalantly through every inch of the island. Cringe. I’m not a fan of cats.

Travel Tip

Learn a bit of Swahili. You’ll be greeted with enthusiastic “Jambo’s,” or “Mambo’s,” everywhere you go. It would be nice to know how to respond.

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