Saturday, September 2, 2017

Stone Town, Zanzibar - 2017

WOW! It's amazing how quickly time passes when I'm back in what I call the "rat race". It's been a few months since I left the "pole pole" life-style in Tanzania and since my last blog! East Africa is always on my mind - when I'm not planning safaris for others I am dreaming about being back with the amazing wildlife or relaxing on the warm sand and tranquil Indian Ocean.

At the end of March Moses and I spent a week travelling around Zanzibar, the spice island! We flew from Kilimanjaro airport to Dar es Salam with Fastjet, met up with family and enjoyed a nice BBQ dinner. Our stay at the Holiday Inn was short as we were taking the ferry to Zanzibar the following morning - I was anxious to get to the beach! Who wouldn't when you know you're on your way to a tropical paradise.  From Dar es Salam it's just a short flight, however, we wanted to experience the Azam Marine Catamaran Ferry (quick service)! I highly recommend to book the VIP seats if you are going this route, it's worth the extra money to sit in air conditioning in leather recliner seats. The check in process at the pier is quite a major chaotic process - with the porters aggressively harassing you to carry your bags - they are just trying to make a buck! Thankfully, knowing the language and how things operate there we pushed our way through and got checked-in and into the air conditioned VIP lounge. Our ferry was the Kilimanjaro VI and it took about 2 hours to reach the island from Dar. 

Our first two nights on the island were in Stone Town at the Tembo House Hotel, conveniently located in the heart of town. It is a great choice if you wish to explore the ancient town and be emerged with local culture. The hotel is not licensed to sell alcohol however, Livingstone Beach Restaurant is right next door to the Tembo Hotel, it's a great place to enjoy a drink on the beach - they have a decent menu as well. 

Tembo House Hotel has a large pool which helps keep you cool from the hot and sticky Zanzibar weather. Rooms are spacious and decorated in authentic Zanzibarian style, they offer air conditioned rooms and comfortable beds with unique designs, as well as the traditional hammam bath- we had a room with oceanview, which was lovely. The hotel is in walking distance to many shops and delicious restaurants. Be sure to explore and try new things. There is plenty of outdoor space for relaxing with their large terrace and balcony areas, one at beach level and the other is an upper level balcony -which is the ideal place to watch the sunset and the way of life. Each evening teens and children gather on the beach for some fun entrainment, jumping off tires and playing around in the boats that line the shore. 

The following morning we arranged a day trip with one of the locals on the beach, a short boat ride to Prison Island for a visit with the Aldabra Giant Tortoises, and to do a bit of snorkeling. Our departure point was the beach in front of our hotel, the Tembo House Hotel. Here's our guide preparing our boat...

Changuu Island (nicknamed Prison Island) is home to the giant Aldabra tortoises, which were a gift from the Seychelles. It is now a tourist site and a quite popular attraction for those visiting Stown Town. The tortoise numbers increase yearly as they raise the young on the island. There were about 50 young the day we had our tour.  If you do visit Prison Island you will notice they paint the age on the tortoises shell, some were as old as 158 years!! 


After walking around in the heat it was refreshing to jump in the ocean at the beach on Prison Island. As part of the tour you can relax here as long as you wish. Then it was time for a bit of snorkeling, the fish are so colourful and we saw many sea urchins and beautiful starfish.

Don't worry - it went back in the ocean :)

Heading back to Tembo House Hotel 

For those going on safari in East Africa I highly recommend you visit the vibrant spice island to experience not just the magic of the Indian ocean and beaches but the many cultures it has to offer. Exotic flavours and fresh seafood will warm your tummy. There are so many options for accommodations in Stone Town and the Tembo House Hotel is just one of my recommendations. Contact me to learn about other hotels or resorts that may suit your group, you can also check out an earlier blog post where I recommend hotels around the island. 

Keep following along as I continue to post about the rest of our adventures on Zanzibar island.