It has been about 5 weeks since I had been in Kibaha and felt like I wanted to be a tourist for a weekend. Since it just so happened that it was a long weekend, my friends and I decided to go and check out Zanzibar. It’s an island off of Dar es Salaam and is apparently a little piece of heaven right here on Earth.
We took a ferry on Friday morning. These ferries are apparently known for their rough rides, and people often get sick on this 2/2.5 hour journey, so if you are planning to go take some gravol, gum or something that will help settle your stomach if you do get sick. However, when we went it was pretty smooth sailing and I didn’t personally see anyone get sick. There are two classes you can buy your ticket for – first class, which is less congested, and air conditioned and second class which is either outside or inside and a little congested. Also , generally in Tanzania there are different prices for foreigners and different prices for the locals so my advice to you is that if you are planning to be here for a while, learn some Swahili so that you can pass as a local and save some money.
I spent all of my 2 hours of the ride outside, by choice. It was a gorgeous day and we were in the middle of the Indian Ocean passing island after island. I had been craving to see the Ocean for a while and I wasn’t going to miss this for the world. Not only was there a great view, I also got to meet a couple of different people from all around the world. I met a girl from New Zealand who was working for an Ngo in Dar es Salaam and was going to the Northern part of the island – Nungwi which is apparently beautiful but quite far ( abou 7 hours to get there from Stone Town which is where you dock). Ifyou are looking for a gorgeous beach I hear Jambiani is amazing ( I did not ge the chance to go here yet but plan to make a second trip for that)– if you are ever in the area! And then I met a couple who were going to the North Eastern part of the island who were simply going to go diving for 4 days straight. Diving is apparently also amazing in Zanzibar and at quite an affordable rate.My friends and I planned to stay in Stone Town this time. Almost everything is based out of here and so we decided that it would be the most practical place to stay.
We arrived at midday and got all of our stuff settled into our hotel and decided to go and explore the city. As we walked passed the docks, we noticed that there were stairs that lead to the Ocean and there were kids who were diving into the water from here. It was a hot day and I had to go touch the green waters of Zanzibar. I felt so tempted to just jump in. All the locals were encouraging us to do so but I knew that we were about to go and explore the city and had no change of clothes so decided otherwise.
For the next few hours we explored Stone Town which is the cultural hub of Zanzibar. It is full of narrow alleys, old buildings,mosques and historical sites such as the Sultan’s palace, old forts, and the slave chamber where the Africanslaves were being kept to test their endurance and eliminate those who could not endure difficult conditions. After going through a little bit of history we headed towards the market. If you have never been to an African market, this is a must ( the hustle and bustle, the random bikes riding everywhere, puddle filled muddy roads ) and if you do not have time to do the spice tour you can go here , do an informal “spice tour” ( by that I mean get to pick up some of the spices in packets) and get to check out the different spices and even take some back home with you if you want.
It was already about 5:30 and we headed back to the hotel. Yet, we couldn’t be in Zanzibar and Not Swim! So we grabbed an extra pair of clothes and headed towards that random staircase to the Ocean. We got there and jumped into the water. It was such a spontaneous act and so liberating! I swam around for a while and went a little further away from the staircase. My friend gasped and signaled behind me and just as I looked I saw the snout of a dolphin dive into the water. It was literally not more than a metre away from me. Now,don’t get me wrong, I love dolphins and all but I was so not mentally prepared for it to be right behind me and usually when you see a big-ish mammal in the Ocean that’s grey– you think Shark! So , I backed away from the dolphin and sat on the stairs for a while. I could not believe a dolphin had come so close to the docks. In my mind you either go far out to the Ocean to find them or they’re in a pool for recreational sake. Anyhow that was defintiely the highlight of my day!
stairs from which we jumped off of:
It was getting dark and so we headed back to the hotel to shower and then get ready for dinner. Dinner would happen at the Forzani which is right in Stone Town and about 5 minutes from where we were staying. This definitely has to be jotted down on you must-do dinner places. It is basically an open space where people set out their tables and sell typical Zanzibar food which is basically all cooked on a grill right in front of you . This includes mishaki ( beef pieces) , barbecue chicken,octopus, chips, and all kinds of seafood. Specialties include the Mix(basically a mix of almost anything from vegetables, to meat and a couple of tangy sauces), Sugar Cane juice and Zanzibar pizzas. The sugar cane juice is made right in front of you as they squeeze the sugar cane through this manual lever kind of machine. You cannot leave Zanzibar without having this. Zanzibar Pizzas are made right in front of you too- similar to a crepe almost but thicker and has more egg in it. I would recommend the chocolate banana pizza for dessert! After you’ve grabbed all your food you can sit right on the wall that borders the Ocean, enjoy your meal and soak in the atmosphere.
Making of Sugar Cane Juice Final Products Here:
By the time it was 10 pm we were exhausted and headed back to the hotel. It was a pretty eventful day and we were excited for what the next day had in store for us . We were to have an early start for the day as we were going to head to the southern tip of the island to Kizimkazi for some dolphin –watching and possibly swimming with the dolphins! Sigh, Another amazing day in Africa 🙂