This is a retrospective post. I travelled to Tanzania a couple years ago and returned for a second trip a year later. This was the first ‘faraway’ place I had ever visited and made for a number of memorable experiences. My trips to Africa have been for the purposes of volunteer work related to my profession but I added on some leisure travel to both.
My first leisure stop in Tanzania was the island of Zanzibar, which is a semi-autonomous region of the country, composed of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. My friend and I were referred to a local tour operator named Cholo who arranged a 3 day tour for us.
We stayed at Tembo House in Stone Town, which is the old part of Zanzibar City and a UNESCO world heritage site. We had a great view of the ocean from the open dining area.
Venturing out to Prison Island
We started off our tour on a boat ride to Changuu Island, also known as Prison Island due to its historic use as a prison for rebellious slaves in the 1860s. Nowadays, it is a resort island and one of its main attractions is the population of Aldabra giant tortoises that were brought there as a gift from the British governor of Seychelles. The most recent numbers I could find indicate that there are about 17 adults, 50 juveniles, and 90 hatchlings that are held on this island. Unfortunately, there have been issues in the past with people stealing the tortoises, so the numbers have fluctuated over the years.
Later on, we went on something called a Safari Blue excursion. This included snorkelling and swimming at a natural lagoon, and then a stop at a sandbar for more lounging and swimming.
We then headed to Kwale Island, where we stopped for a massive seafood lunch which had been prepared and packed by the tour company. The island itself is otherwise basically deserted without much to do or see, so we spent our time there stuffing our faces with way too much food for only three of us and our guide.
A spicy finale
Finally, we finished off the last day of our trip on a spice tour. We weren’t sure what to expect but this turned out to be surprisingly fun and interesting. We were driven to a spice farm just outside of Stone Town and given a tour by a knowledgeable guide about the various crops they had growing. The farm wasn’t restricted to spices per se; we in fact saw various tropical plants and fruits. This trip was taken in my pre-Mr. Chuckles days, so he regrettably did not get the chance to hone his horticultural knowledge here. This was followed by another huge lunch. An amusing moment was when the kid they had trailing us on the tour fashioned up some banana leaf crowns, bracelets, and baskets for us along the way. Unfortunately these did not survive in my suitcase. The day ended with us watching a guy bolt up a coconut tree.
We also made a trip out to The Rock restaurant. This place is featured on many travel websites and books, and is basically a restaurant set out in the middle of the water which sometimes requires a boat to cross. We arrived there during low tide, so only ended up walking down the path. It’s definitely picturesque and a neat experience, but the food is just okay. It was actually an Italian menu that I don’t really remember. 🤷🏻♀️
So there you have it, a retrospective highlight reel of my trip to Zanzibar! After this, we headed off to the mainland which is a mere 30 minute flight away. There’s also a two hour ferry ride available, but our schedule did not allow for this. Our next stop was the Kilimanjaro region, where we went on a day hike to Mount Kilimanjaro base camp, a story for another post!