Life’s a beach and then we fly…

Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
Trip End Jun 25, 2009

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Flag of Tanzania  , Zanzibar Archipelago,
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We arrived in Lushoto after a long and windy bus journey from the coast. We were tipped off that Irente Farm do good value accommodation so we jumped in a cab and headed straight there having called them to check availability on the way. The farm's about 6km out of town on a lush wooded hillside and we were made very welcome by the manager on arrival. We also found out that the farm produces rye bread, cheese, butter, passion fruit juice and jams and were pleased to hear that these make up the included breakfast! Yum!

The farm is near a lookout called Irente viewpoint which affords amazing views across the Maasai steppe, we headed there for sunset one evening – stunning! We also took a guided walk to nearby rainforests, it’s surreal to think that we were in the same country, it was so…. green!

While we were at the farm, a friend of the owners came to visit for a few days with his family. They invited us to join them on a trip they’d planned to another patch of forest (we were the only other guests). The drive took two hours on windy dirt roads and allowed us to see much of the mountain range; it’s a really beautiful area. We also stopped at a farm owned by Benedictine Monks on the way who produce their own wine, not great but certainly palatable!

After Lushoto we took our last long bus journey down to Dar es Salaam in order to catch the ferry over to Zanzibar!! We arrived late in Dar so had to spend the night and we met up with a friend from Arusha, Jo, who also wanted to visit the island.

Early the following morning we caught the first ferry to Zanzibar and, after a minor issue with our visas at Stone Town port (long story), we were met by a friend of a friend of a friend who’s apartment we’d arranged to stay at (another long story!). This friend of a friend happens to be one of the most renowned hoteliers in Stone Town and we were taken to a building he’s currently renovating to create his latest hotel. Just two rooms are complete and we were able to stay in one of them - a very elaborate room decked out like some thing from Arabian Nights! When it’s completed these rooms will go for around $200 a night…and we were lucky enough to stay for free (we think we were confused with someone else, as this definitely wasn’t the apartment we had originally arranged to stay at!)!

After the shock of our accommodation luck sunk in, we hit the narrow streets of Stone Town. It’s an amazing place, catching wonderful smells of spices as we walked the lanes we couldn’t help but instantly love it! It has a great combination of African and Arabian culture thrown together amongst the fading grandeur of what must have been an incredible town in its height. After a little browsing in the shops, we quickly found somewhere for a beer to watch the sun go down! Every evening in Stone Town, there’s a food market hawking barbequed seafood from lobster and prawns to octopus and blue marlin. We couldn’t resist and a dove on in!

The following day we struck out North to the sleepy costal resort of Kendwa. White sandy beaches, turquoise waters, bamboo huts… Kendwa’s a little slice of paradise and all three of us were perfectly happy sunbathing and relaxing! We decided to do a short snorkelling trip and were amazed how clear the waters were, just a few hundred meters from the beach we were surrounded by brightly coloured fish darting around a beautiful coral garden. Most impressively we saw two lion fish – really elegant creatures.

After a couple of days on the beach it was back to Stone Town as Jo had to head back to the mainland. This time, we were shown to the right apartment which although not quite as flamboyant as the hotel is really beautiful. We saw Jo off at the port and then the owner of the apartment’s private chef cooked us some dinner which we ate on the roof top… an amazing feast of kingfish, saffron rice and fresh veg – mango and papaya for dessert, followed by handfuls of fresh jasmine flowers to help us sleep!

So this just leaves us with one more morning in Stone Town, wondering round the market and drinking fresh coffee, and then it’s back to Dar es Salaam for one night before our flight the following morning back to the UK and the end of our four month adventure. It’s been an amazing trip and we can’t believe it’s come to an end…and we fully plan on boring you all about it on our return.
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