Friday, June 3, 2011

Zanzibar - The Spice Island

Daryll writes:

We didn’t want to inconvenience Aisha as she was heading off for work the next day, so decided to head to the beach to camp and arrange our way to Zanzibar.  We didn’t have far to go and the it took longer to both pack and unpack the bikes than it took to ride the mere 2km down the road to the Makadi Beach Camp, a popular stopover for the overland crowd.  The husband & wife team of Lucho & Jo that owned the place were great and reserved us a place on the ferry to Zanzibar for 2 days later.  We wanted to chill out on the beach of the Indian Ocean again.


Despite the warning signs all over the campground, we ventured out to the village to try & find something for dinner.  It was about a 20min walk and was perfectly safe, but couldn’t find anything suitable as Dom is a vegetarian and all we saw was chicken and chips (french fries) so ended up having a few beers and dinner in the restaurant at the campground.


Before we could board the ferry to Zanzibar, Ang visited the National Museum and though it interesting while I sat in some shade and made notes for this blog post.  We are at the tail end of the rainy season in Tanzania and it rains without fail for about 2 hours daily and we got caught in the thundershower on our way to the ferry terminal.  Many of the locals that were on the streets stopped what they were doing and found shelter till the storm passed, but us, we continued the walk to the terminal and arrived sopping wet.  It wasn’t too long till the sun came out again and we had boarded the fast ferry to Zanzibar.  At US$70 return, there were a few tourists, but the ferry was filled with mostly locals, guess there must be a higher charge for tourists.  The ferry left later than scheduled, but this is Africa after all, and arrived 2 hours later in Zanzibar.  The water was calm, so the journey wasn’t too bad.  I remember the last time I had taken the ferry to Zanzibar, I tried to save some money and took the slow overnight ferry and ended up getting sea sick on the way back.  That trip wasn’t much fun.


Once we stepped off the ferry though, all hell broke loose as the touts were all over us trying to sell us a tour and take us to a hotel they knew off and indirectly get a commission off the hotel.  Dom had gotten off the ferry a few minutes before us and had already started taking to a guy that offered to take us to look at a few hotels for free but when the taxi drivers heard him make the offer, they were all over us saying that the guy we were talking to was a criminal and that we shouldn’t go with him.  I had about 3 guys in my face yelling and indicating that we should come with them and I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, so I simply yelled back saying that we would find our own hotel and for them to leave us alone.  As we started walking away, the so called “criminal” was still sticking to Dom, so decided to trust him and let him lead us to a place that he knew off.  Stone Town (the downtown part of Zanzibar) is filled with old, run down and dilapidated buildings with narrow dirty pedestrian only streets.  It is a maze if you didn’t know where you were going.  The first hotel the guy took us to seemed ok, but we had nothing to compare it to, so knew off a hostel that the Lonely Planet had recommended and asked him to take us there.  The Jambo Guest House was a lot nicer, the room had a fan and an aircon and included breakfast and for the same price as the hotel that we first saw, decided to stay at Jambo and took a triple room.


For the last few days, Dom wouldn’t stop talking about Mercury’s Pizza place in Zanzibar, so we had to stop there for dinner.  Did you know – Freddie Mercury was actually born in Zanzibar.  The pizza was amazing and with the view of the ocean, it was another remarkable day in Africa.


We spent 3 days in Stone Town and found it to be a photographers paradise with the old decaying buildings and the numerous wooden doors, each with it’s own unique design.  Dom went diving for 2 days while Ang did a Spice Tour and I watched the locals go about their daily routine.  We ended up going out to Indian restaurants for the next 2 evenings as we couldn’t resist the local spices.




I had booked us on the 9:30am ferry back to Dar which wasn’t as busy, but the sea wasn’t that calm either and I wasn’t feeling too well.  I tried to close my eyes and focus on not being sick and the ferry docking couldn’t have come at a better time.  Any longer on that 2hr ferry, I think I would have lost the battle with breakfast.  While on Zanzibar, we had left our bikes at the Makadi Beach Camp, so stayed there for another night before leaving Dar Es Salaam.  That night, 2 South African bikers showed up on a DR and a Dakar.  They were also hoping to get to Ethiopia before returning to South Africa.  As we headed out of town the next day and stopped for a break, we noticed 2 KLR’s pass by and waved.  Both the riders immediately made a u-turn and came back to talk to us.  They were a couple from Durban, South Africa.  Nick and Kristine ( started their RTW trip in SA and were making their way to Europe to find some work, before continuing across Asia, Russia and then down the America’s.  We stayed and chatted for a bit as we haven’t seen a whole lot of travelers heading either south or north.  We met a German couple on 2 KTM’s in Namibia, and then now these 4 South Africans.  So hope to meet up with Nick and Kristine again.


The campground that we intended to stay at for the night ended up being closed, so we had to continue for another 50km to the next town and decided to stop at a Motel.  There wasn’t any camping around and it was getting late, so decided to bite the bullet and spend the US$26 for a room for the night.  Ang was just too happy to be sleeping off the ground for another night and safely tucked away from the mosquitoes under the mosquito netting.  Our destination the next day, May 28th (our 6th wedding anniversary) was Arusha – the world capital of Safari’s as it is the hub for safari’s to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater where we were hoping that we could join up with a few people to go on safari.

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