zanzibarWe took a 2.5 hour ferry to Zanzibar for a nice 4 day break from the tents and the dust. As soon as we were off the boat and managed to get through immigration, we set off on a spice tour. Lunch was the first stop where we had yummy spicy curries. Next we head off to the ‘farm’ where they showed us the spice plants and local fruits.

After about an hour of seeing all the spices one could think of, they sat us down to a smorgasbord of fruit was lovely! Some people bought some spices and soaps (only to find out later they are half price in Stone Town) and we were finally off to Nungwi for some beach time. After an hour or so of driving, we were at our resort – Amaan Bungalows – not bad for a budget place. It wasn’t long before a few of us were in the water, but unfortunately we were watching the sun set, so it didn’t last too long before we got cold.

After a few drinks, we decided to find some dinner. We waited over an hour for the meal to arrive and by the time it did, we were beyond hungry at it was approaching 10pm. Everything runs on African time in Africa!

Next day we got up for breaky to find some rather nasty looking storm clouds. We waited out one storm before heading into the local village for a look. Then the rain started again. And it was a heavy shower. We took shelter until it let off a little, and then it poured down again. So typical – pretty much the only place we’ll be at the beach and it’s pouring. Just our luck! After a few more heavy showers, we gave up and head into an internet cafe for a bit. The internet was slower than slow, and I went back to grab our raincoats before we headed to a local coffee shop.

This coffee shop was run by an expat who has been training students in cooking and hospitality service. She explained how she worked and taught them to bake, cook, prepare and plan ahead. She was an interesting lady who had clearly traveled much in her life and seen many different cultures.

Next we had some lunch then wandered up to a turtle conservation sanctuary. We met the babies (25 days old), infants (9 months old) and adults (ranging from 4 to 25 years old) and fed the adults some seaweed. They were absolutely gorgeous and so gentle – except we later heard that one took a bite at another guy’s finger! They also had a python, a rather large lizard and some land tortoises there as well.

As we left, the sun came out and we walked for about 20 minutes back to our hotel to get ready for a dip in the ocean – whoo! It wasn’t long before we started to get stung by what we assumed was tiny jellyfish.

Next day the weather was the same – raining in the morning, but luckily, it cleared up in time for us to go for a dhow cruise at sunset with some snorkeling. The snorkeling was unfortunately a little ordinary due to a combination of a very high tide, intermittent sunlight and the fact that the dhow boat drivers would drop their anchors anywhere – on top of coral included. Others who had gone out in the morning said it was better where they had been and it had been low tide, so we figured it was just bad luck.

A group dinner and good sleep, the next day we headed Stone Town. We were given the warnings about personal safety in Stone Town as it is renowned for muggings and pick pocketing etc. Once we got there, George took us for a walk through the town pointing out places of interest (including bars and internet cafes!) and we bought a magnet then headed to a recommended bar for a lazy drink and some lunch.

In true holiday style, we then headed back to the hotel for a poppa nap before heading to Africa House (previously only allowed African’s) for a lovely drink while watching the sunset and a tiny pet monkey crawling over everything and everyone. It was from here that we could see the night market stalls where a whole row of men dressed with chefs coats and hats where cooking local delicacies. So we made a beeline for some dinner. Zanzibar pizzas (which are like big versions of Asian dumplings), beef, liver, chicken and prawn skewers, sugarcane juice pressed right in front of you, ‘meet’balls, potato balls… the list goes on!

After filling up nicely on a big variety of food, we all met in a group to walk back to the hotel. You could instantly see why this place is notorious for muggings. The street lights were dull at best, the town is filled with tiny alley ways (which are actually quite cool to get lost in – during the day), and there are all sorts of people lurking around every corner. But we made it back in one piece with no dramas.

Next day we wandered through the streets browsing in some shops and checking out the local art. We bartered a bracelet for Kim down from 12,000 shillings to 1,500 – these guys will sell your soul if they knew how. Then 3pm came and we made our way back to the ferry to travel back to the mainland. We all decided to stay outside on the top deck for this trip, though it wasn’t long before the left hand side of the boat was drenched (people included) from the boat cutting through the waves. Kim was feeling a bit off colour by the time we got to Dar, but he managed to keep his lunch down :) We jumped on the bus, then another ferry to Oyster Bay where we had left our tents for our last night on the beach. Strange as it might sound, we were all glad to be sleeping back in our tents!

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