Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Life is Hakuna Matata on Zanzibar

The second you step off the plane onto the sands of Zanzibar you know you have found a slice of paradise. The salty air and gentle breeze instantly whisper to you the island mantra: "Hakuna Matata" ( Swahili for "no problem") reminding you to relax and enjoy all that awaits.

Arriving from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's Capitol, on a twin engine 12 seater prop plane, I was ready for my island break. Although Zanzibar is only a 20 minute flight or 1 hour ferry ride from Dar it became clear in the 15km drive from the airport to Stone Town, the largest town on the island, that Zanzibar is a world away from the hustle of Mainland East Africa. The narrow streets and ancient buildings speak of a place with a deep history, rich traditions and a time system that moves slow. 

First stop Stone Town. The largest town on the island of Unguga (aka "Spice Island)", Stone Town used to be a major spice and slave trade center. Due to Arab influence and the recent funding from Aga Khan, Stone Town is now a culinary destintion. Arriving late in the evening and with an empty stomach a stop at the Forodhani Gardens, Zanzibar's nightly outdoor street food market, was a must. Packed full of the most elaborate food stands, this park is competing hard for best street food in the world award. Every night starting at dusk this park fills up with food stands that offer up delectibles such as the Zanzibar pizza ($3), kebabs and coconut bread ($2), mango with pili pili (20cents) and glasses of freshly squeezed sugar cane juice to wash it all down.

Mr Nutella
Beyond the food of stone town, this city is a great place to soak up history. Visitors can tour the old slave market, prison island (a short boat ride away), or go on a spice tour and learn about Zanzibar's most precious resources: cloves and vanilla.

After a hot day of walking around Stone Town it was time to hit the white sandy beaches that make this place world famous. Although one cannot really go wrong with any of the beaches on Zanzibar, one must decide what they are looking for because each area offers something slightly unique. Want to kite surf? Head to Paje. Want high end, all-inclusive resorts? Head to Jambiani. Want a good party and beaches that don't recede with the tide? Head to Nangwi.

Wanting to relax on the best beaches by day and party by night (while still watching the wallet) the beaches at Nungwi, and more specifically Kendwa, seem like the best bet. A 1 hour dulla dulla ride ($2) away from Stone Town, Kendwa turned to be just the paradise I was looking for. The tropical blue waters and soft white sand mixed with comfortable beach loungers and cold drinks made for a week of pure unadulterated laziness. ($15 hour long massages helped tremendously). If one wanted a break from their beach chair Zanzibar Watersports, operated by adventure aficionado Chris, was steps away to hook you up with snorkeling and diving trips to Mnemba atoll, kite surfing, deep sea fishing and much more.

Although one could spend a lifetime on Zanzibar, after 6 days it was time to pass on my now imprinted beach chair to another mzungu in need of a beach break...but only after I suck down one last glass of sugar cane juice. 

1 comment:

  1. The word “Hakuna Matata” reminds me of “Timon and pumbaa” from the movie Lion the King. I used to love those cartoons. Tanzania looks like an interesting place. I enjoyed reading this post. It had some really interesting piece of information. Thank you for sharing it with us.