...but I'll order it from Zanzibar!

Trip Start Mar 13, 2010
Trip End Feb 13, 2011

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Where I stayed
Stone Town

Flag of Tanzania  , Zanzibar Archipelago,
Friday, May 7, 2010

Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the Fandango?,

Due to the generally shoddy state of African internet there's a bit of backdating to be done. So all I need to ask is: Are you sitting comfortably? Yes? So let's begin...

To set the background; our journey so far had taken us through the north of Tanzania, to the principle port (although not the capital city) of Dar Es Salaam. We arrived relatively late in the day on 6 May at our campsite, Makadi Camp, situated just outside the city itself and on the shores of the beautiful Indian Ocean. The heat was intense, the humidity unbearable. There was only one way to deal with the conditions - set up the tent, then all rush into the sea to play American Football with a Nerf ball! After we had all used any excess energy not drained by the duel that was driving through the Dar traffic earlier that day (2 hours to cross one junction, without any accidents/road works/any reason for such a long traffic jam) it was early to bed for the next morning, at stupid o'clock, we were heading to Zanzibar!

So, as they say, the early bird catches the ferry to Dar. Which was certainly true in this instance. Up before dark, the entire group grabbed and early breakfast and then we were off. We caught the short 10 minute ferry across the Dar bay to get tickets for the Dar-Zanzibar ferry. This short money for ticket exchange took our tour leader, Iain, only 2 hours - hence why we had to get up before the sun in order to catch a ferry departing at 1130! This time did however give us the chance to stock up on essential supplies (crisps, biscuits, etc) and to scout out the centre of Dar for important landmarks (i.e. the nearest Subways store). Incredibly, when the ferry arrived and everyone had boarded, we were only running about 30 minutes behind schedule and even had a fully operational on-board entertainment system - even if this was the film Shooter (starring Mark Wahlberg) repeated continually for the entire time we were on the ferry!

The journey itself was good. The sea not too choppy. And to my knowledge no one needing to go outside to get some 'fresh air'. Upon arrival at Zanzibar we went through immigration - hilarious given that it's still part of Tanzania, but another passport stamp for the collection - and headed for Safari Lodge, our hotel in Stone Town for the first night. Given the sea journey and general lugging of backpacks, we decided to relax on the first night - not an easy thing to do given the humidity meant I had to have a shower every time I left the air-con bliss of our hotel room! But in the spirit of relaxation, I gave it a go anyway. So we went for a late lunch at Mercury's Restaurant, named after, and adorned with photos of, the once resident lead singer of Queen. Then we trotted down the promenade to Africa House, a very colonial terraced bar, to enjoy cocktails whilst watching the sun set over the ocean. A very nice way to end the day.

We had another early start the next day as we were off to do a Spice Tour before heading to the north of the island for the next 3 days. The Spice Tour was fascinating; we were led around a spice farm, shown all of the individual spices, allowed to taste them, and were given a background to how each spice was introduced to Zanzibar by the Omanis centuries beforehand. We also had a tour of the old slave quarters used by the Omanis when Zanzibar functioned as a huge slave market; it was almost unbelievable how poor the conditions were. We piled into a 5x5 metre cellar, into which the drainage system used to flow, and which would flood at high tide, and were told that it would normally have held around 50 men, with a slightly bigger room behind us used to accommodate up to 75 women and children! Crazy.

After that rather sobering sight we had an hour drive northwards to ponder what it must have been to have the life of a slave, before arriving at our air conditioned, beach side bungalows. Now, I'd like to say that we made the most of our 3 days in North Zanzibar by snorkeling, scuba diving, etc...but I can't. We spent 3 days chilling out, relaxing on the beach, listening to music and drinking cocktails. And it was awesome.

The final night, we once again spent in Stone Town. During the day we took a boat out to Prison Island to visit the Giant Tortoises that bizarrely are housed there. They were apparently a gift to the British during their time of occupation of Zanzibar. Unfortunately people kept stealing the young Tortoises (I'd imagine stealing the fully grown ones would have taken too much effort, especially having seen the size of some of them), so in an effort to prevent any more of them going missing they were moved out to Prison Island. Not that there was actually a prison on the island! They originally intended for the area to house the criminals of Zanzibar, but then decided to use it for the isolation of sailors with contagious diseases. And in the end it was never used, other than to look after our giant friends from the Galapagos Isles. After we made it back, we popped into the Fishermans' Market for dinner; at the end of every day all of the local fisherman set up shop on stalls in the local park and sell their catch from the day. It really was excellent, every type of fish imaginable, squid, octopus, lobster, as well as sugar cane juice freshly squeezed to wash it all down, and then a pancake for dessert! Wonderful.

And then all too soon it was the ferry back to Dar the next morning. It was a fantastic 5 days and two extra completely meaningless immigration stamps in our passports. The journey back started ominously, with the ferry attendants handing out sick bags to everyone on board; slightly worrying as it was, there was no need to fret, as the ferry glided back to the mainland smoothly to a weird film starring Whoopi Goldberg about the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Anyhow, I've got to run. Lots of things to do and places to see, you know. It doesn't look like we'll be able to get photos up before South Africa, so you crazy cats will just have to wait until then to see how much fun we've had. Hope to write about Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Botswana soon.


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shiiuga on

Try sugar cane juice with orange juice, its awesome! Glad to see you're still having fun. Look forward to playing some poker with you in February :D

P Kiddy

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