Zanzibar - (With Lots Of Rain).

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Tanzania  , Zanzibar Archipelago,
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Somehow or other we found ourselves driving a car in Zanzibar -  what a crazy thing to do!

We had an early 5.00am start (no alarm clock - its in our missing luggage - but the Muslim call to prayer does the trick) and the previous night our lovely receptionist at the Flamingo had organized a taxi to get us to the Tanzanian Air office, for our shuttle to the Kilimanjaro airport. On the way to the airport there was heavy cloud cover, so no sighting of the famous mountain, but 10 minutes into our flight to Zanzibar, Mt Kilimanjaro popped out of the clouds, looking magnificent.

Arriving at Zanzibar airport we were mobbed in the usual fashion for transport and taxis and it dawned us that without our Lonely Planet we weren't even sure of where the address of the beach we were going to was. We found a sort of info booth and a chap assisted us by ringing Sunny Safaris, who we had booked through, to find out at what beach. The next shock was that transport was going to cost us $50US one way or $10US to get us to the local bus stop then all day on a local bus for the rest of the way. As it was by now raining and this didn't seem a cheerful option, the tourist guy said what about a hire car? $40US a day and his friend could come and pick us up. OK we said if it was $30 US.  Before we knew it we had a brief piece of paper to sign, were taken to get a $10US Tanzanian drivers License and to the tourist office to BUY a map! ($6US No free give away maps in Tanzania). and we were behind the wheel of a small 4 wheel drive.

Then it was a real feeling of "what have we done"..... the map was not to scale and didn't have North to the top. We headed off totally in the wrong direction for 15 minutes or so ( there were no road signs at all!!.,) before stopping and asking several lots of people. We would show them the map and they would look totally bemused. After little help we sorted out our own bearings a bit by using the ocean as a yard stick. Eventually we cleared the city of Stone Town and headed towards Kizimkaze beach where our accommodation was booked. Whilst the skies were Gray, the rain had let up and the scenery of very poor subsistence farmers, struggling to make a living, slid by.

We arrived at our resort the  Karamba Lodge and were welcomed with a drink and shown to our room by our Spanish hostess, Gemma. There was a little bit of a problem in that she wanted payment, as Sunny Safaris had booked, but not paid her. As we had already paid Sunny Safaris in full, we were not paying again, but we did say we would email them and ask them to forward our payment immediately. Our room was a lovely little beach hut with an outdoor bathroom.

It became fairly obvious quite early there were more staff than guests and this was definitely the off season. We were dismayed to find the resort didn't take visa for payment of meals etc. and there were no AT M's outside of Stone Town. We had to carefully count out our Tanzania shillings and US dollars to be able to budget to eat!

We had a late lunch then went for a walk around the very poor village of Kizimkaze. There were no shops or Internet, just a little grocery type shop where we could buy water. It is a Muslim fishing village and we saw boats being made out of tree trunks from scratch.

By now we had worn the same jeans for twelve days - they just HAD to be washed. We couldn't afford to have the resort launder them due to our lack of cash, so we bought a sarong for Heather and borrowed one from our hostess for Avan and then hand washed our only trousers. Our dress for dinner that night was very bizarre but luckily there were only seven other guests to stare at us and wonder!

We woke up to rain absolutely teeming down with the air very damp, and along with the air, all our meagre supply of clothes -  now too late we realized washing them was not such a good idea! We wandered up to breakfast and lunch with an umbrella, (supplied in our room) wearing sarongs and runners with no socks. Doing anything other than relaxing was out of the question as the rain continued all day to pound our little beach hut. The waiter came to our hut an hour before breakfast, lunch and dinner to take our orders which was a bit strange. I think they wanted to make sure they were only preparing exactly what the few guests wanted! We both had good books on the go and so spent the day reading and doing crosswords, but our travel scrabble, languishing in our lost luggage, would have come in handy!

The next day, the rain had eased but our washing wasn't properly dry. We checked out and spread the remaining damp clothes around the car for the drive back to Stone Town. On arrival we found the place we were supposed to return the car, which was a busy intersection, when a man started waving madly at us and handed over a phone. The car owner was on the other end giving us authority to hand the car over to the "waver". Bizarre way of doing business!

We found our way to the Clove Hotel which had been booked for us for the night then set about going to the bank to get some money and buying ferry tickets to Dar Es Salaam. This was made more complicated in that it was much cheaper to buy ferry tickets in US dollars, so we  to walked a long way to Barclay's Bank to withdraw the cash. Not so simple, we found that we had to draw out Tanzania shillings and convert them to US dollars.. The heavens opened again on our walk back from the bank and we ended up wading through, in places knee deep, water. The next day we read in the paper that a car had lost control, where we had been, and drifted off the road. It was lifted out of the bog by the never ending stream of by standers.

With our ferry tickets secured for the next day, we decided we could no longer put up with not having clothes and set about doing some shopping - not much though! We bought a backpack (cabin luggage size) and another change of clothes each, a towel and some sandals and a few other bits and pieces. Most importantly we were able to find another copy of "Lonely Planet Africa on a Shoestring" so we didn't feel so much in the dark!

The Clove Hotel (quite cheap at $25US a night) was excellent and they rang Sunny Safaris for us, to advise them what time our ferry was to arrive in Dar, as we still did not have our train tickets for the next day. The arrangement was to be that we would be met and the tickets given to us on our arrival at Dar wharf.

A sunset stroll around the twisting alleys of Stone Town finished of our day quite nicely and we went to bed knowing we wouldn't need an alarm clock again - there would be that 5am Muslim call to prayer to get us up in time for the early fast ferry - and we had clean clothes!

Footnote: Stone Town Of Zanzibar is UNESCO World Heritage Listed and features in the book Unforgettable Places to See before you die.
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