Saturday, 21 January 2017

A guide to Zanzibar


Getting around Zanzibar

The best way to reach Zanzibar is by plane from Dar Es Salaam airport. The flight is only 20 minutes but it takes you worlds away from the busy streets of the city to the serene coral beaches of Zanzibar.

There are local taxis at the airport but it is best to pre book before you arrive.

Stone Town is the nearest town to the airport , it is a busy trading town which is popular with tourists. Stone Town is only a 4 minute drive along a straight road but make sure you agree a price for the journey with the driver before setting off.


Currency

The currency in Zanzibar is Tanzanian shilling , you can order this before you fly from a bureau de change or there is a cash machine right outside Zanzibar airport where you can withdraw money. -When you exit it will be on your right hand side.

Some larger outlets accept card but most shops and restaurants accept cash only.

Be wary of people asking if you would like help , they usually follow it up with a charge. Politely decline the offer and ask someone within a shop , hotel or restaurant if you need help or directions to be on the safe side.


Stone Town

Stone Town is the old part of Zanzibar city and this was our base for our first two nights of the trip.
It is a coastal town steeped in history , every street and building has a story to tell.

The best way to explore stone town is to get lost in the winding streets , you will come across extravagant arab buildings, bustling bazaars , craft shops and mosques along the way. - There is a tall church tower which you can use as a marker , just make sure it doesn't go out of site and you won't go too far and get lost!


Most of the hotels & b&b accommodation in Stone Town are in renovated traditional Arab houses.
The more luxurious resorts are based in the new part of Zanzibar city.

In terms of food you are spoilt for choice in Stone Town. Fish , fruit and veg all come from the area so you can't get much fresher , the only thing you may struggle to find is western food such as burgers , chips , etc.

The night markets offers an amazing choice of meat skewers , dried fruits , ice creams , churros and more! If you are visiting the market it is best to go with an appetite.

The Tower restaurant in Stone Town is worth a visit for 1.The amazing panoramic view and 2. The food. They have a wide menu of local favourites plus pizzas and small tapas style dishes to share.

There is an indian restaurant  called Radha food house which is really popular , it has a small menu but each dish our group had was cooked to perfection.


Prison Island (Changuu)

Changuu is a 30 minute boat trip from Stone Town.  Ironically the prison on the island was never used as an actual prison for criminals as intended however it was used to house slaves from the african mainlands as a way to prevent escape. After yellow fever broke out sufferers were also sent here into quarantine so there is of course and eerie feeling on the island when you think of what it used to be. I would advise to bring a tour guide as the island has so much history it is really interesting to hear the full story. There is a private hotel resort on the island which looked well kept but it was empty , I guess regardless on what they have made it into today the reminder of what once happened on the island still hangs in the air.





Giant Turtles
Prison Island is also home to Aldabra giant tortoises there is many roaming around the island.



Spice Tours
From Stone town there are regular 'Spice Tours' which take you out into the country farms to show you where many of the goods we see on our supermarkets shelves are come from. From peppercorns, exotic fruits and vegetables it is amazing to see where it all comes from first hand.




On the spice tour you will see where everything is grown then have a chance to sample a bit of everything at the end, you can also buy some to take away at the fraction of the cost you would say at home. Things like vanilla pods and spices are a great gift to pick up whilst on the tour.


Nungwi

Nungwi is a large coastal village which sits on the northern end of Zanzibar island. It is home to some  of the most beautiful beaches and coral reefs in the world.



There are beautiful beach resorts in the area which come with several restaurants on each , most resorts offer beach bungalows rather than standard hotels rooms.




Nungwi is a great place to relax after a few days of exploring in Stone Town but if you still want more adventure there are water sports available and you can grab some snorkels and check out the coral reefs.

Along the beach there is a turtle conservation centre where you see many types that have been rescued , you can feed and hold the turtles too . Its worth the trip , there is a small entry fee which goes towards housing and feeding the turtles.



For food there are many restaurants to try and seafood is a must as it is caught fresh from the beach , Cinnamon restaurant sits within the 'Z hotel complex' and offers a fantastic ambience , menu and views. http://www.thezhotel.com

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