Our start to the final leg of our African trip began from Dar es Salaam, moving by tuk-tuk to cross the river and board the Zanzibar ferry. The heat of the African sun beat down on us while queuing for the ferry. After multitudes of tourists and locals frequently cutting the line and sweating up a small thunderstorm we got a bit short tempered, but we eventually passed the superficial security checks and boarded the Kilimanjaro II for our journey. On board were quite a few boxes containing live chicks, 100 packed into a small crate.
On arrival to Stone Town, Zanzibar we quickly inhaled a cheap local Indian meal then piled into the air conditioned bus to travel to the Spice plantations. Here, the singing, slashing and soccer shirt wearing locals fetched all kinds of locally grown spices and tropical fruit. Tam was quite partial to the lipstick fruit, managing to even get some on Mitch. Banana leaf fronds were woven into hats, ties, handbags and rings while we drank from coconuts gathered high in the trees.
That night we were introduced to the bustling nightlife in Stone Town, particularly the Night-Markets, where seafood was cooked in open barbeques. Mitch was a bit surprised by the cost of his marlin, lobster and calamari kebabs – 48,000 TSH! Probably a better lesson in enquiring and negotiating prices before you eat! The food was still beautiful and well worth the experience. The following morning was fun getting lost in the alleyways and curio shops. The buildings are a mix of Portuguese, Arabic and Indian architecture and built several stories high from plaster and wood. A central fort served as the local prison, now an amphitheatre and art hub. Having resisted the numerous artworks on display in favour of essential food supplies, we headed north for beaches and more expensive tourist resorts.
Our resort on Kendwa beach was very nice despite a few power cuts and some painfully slow service. A man patrols the beach “Pineapple, Mango, Drinky Coconut eh?”. A blue-balled monkey is chained up a couple of resorts along. Our first night had local dance troupe in pink chino’s dancing to Michael Jackson hits, then an open dance floor and several Masai warriors. Another jumping competition ensued between a few of the boys – up to the rafters.
We were perplexed by the practice of reserving sun loungers by putting your towels on them in the early morning. You have to get in early before the Germans and Russians who leave their real estate absent for about 7 hours of the day… After some exploring, we tried to get onto the restaurant out over the water. After being escorted twice off the premises by their security, we got the idea that this place was a bit more exclusive.
On the third day we went on a snorkelling trip with a local operator to the Mnemba Atoll. After being told that they had the fastest speedboat on the island, we piled into the wooden clinker, complete with a 40HP motor and began the two hour journey around the point. We were certainly privileged with our captain being the ‘most experienced’ in all of Zanzibar. Despite this, he still managed to drive through a set net and into some coral…
The snorkelling was great fun, full of thousands of fish of all variety, shape and colour. Mitch made a nuisance of himself swimming down and pestering the scuba divers for air or harassing fish. Tam found a massive clam and got a mighty sting on the lip by some small jellyfish.
We farewell our tour group today, with some of them traveling for the next forty days to Cape Town. The group are a great bunch of characters who enjoy a lot of banter, saddling and partying. Wish them well on their future travels. Special thanks to our guide Kanyo and driver Koto. We depart for London tomorrow, via Nairobi and Abu Dhabi. Sad to see the end of our African travels, but looking forward to the next adventure!