ZANZIBAR

After climbing Kilimanjaro last year (August 2004), Matt and Shannon visited Zanzibar before heading home.  Mike and Cathy had to get back to Johannesburg after the climb though and ended up missing the Zanzibar part of the trip. So, with Matt and Shannon on their way back to Canada for 10 days, Mike and Cathy decided to head over to Zanzibar to see the island.

From Dar, Mike and Cathy took the 2 hour Sea Star ferry across to Stone Town and then a shared mini-bus taxi to the north part of the island for a few days at Nungwi Beach.  After a bit of a misunderstanding on which resort we were supposed to stay in, we made it to the correct location, Amaan Bungalows, by mid-afternoon and we immediately went for lunch at the Fat Fish restaurant before hitting the showers.

Nungwi Beach has a number of bungalows and mid-range resorts but Amaan seemed to have one of the better locations as far as beach, restaurants and facilities are concerned.  We had 3 different restaurants to choose from right on our doorstep, a nice beach with stores and bars, a coffee shop serving great chocolate cake and an internet cafe with relatively quick access. 

Most of the people around us seemed to have just finished climbing Kilimanjaro recently and were using Nungwi Beach as a place to recuperate afterwards.  We fit in quite well though because, until we showered, we were just as dirty and run-down from the driving and camping we'd done since leaving Lusaka.

We ate some great food. burgers, pizza and a great seafood barbeque; we relaxed on the beach; and we were able to catch up on our communication with friends and family.  It was exactly what we needed in a luxury stop.

Leaving Amaan Bungalows at Nungwi Beach we went back to Stone Town to experience city living in Zanzibar and to meet up with Jimmy Linskey who was flying in from Johannesburg to take advantage of the opportunity to join the trip because there was space during the time that Matt and Shannon were back in Canada. The plan was that Jim would join us for a few days in Zanzibar then camp with us as we drove to Kilimanjaro to pick up Matt and Shannon who would be flying in on October 6th after their trip to Canada.  Then Jim would head back to Joburg from the Kilimanjaro airport.

We got to the Chavda Hotel in Stone Town early afternoon and immediately went out for a walk around the city to find a place for lunch.  The walk around the city was good, but we got a bit lost on our way back. But, as luck would have it, we found an awesome Indian restaurant while we were wandering and sat down for a set menu lunch.  Mike had the "Flavours of Zanzibar" set menu and Cathy had the "Taj Mahal".  Both were great.  And, as it turned out, the restaurant was actually close to our hotel AND the one that comes recommended as the best Indian restaurant in Stone Town.

Jim came in around 9pm and we met up with him for a beer at the roof top bar and restaurant at the Chavda hotel.  As the name suggests, it is on the roof of our hotel and it is a great place to look out over the city.  The beer was good and so was the dinner. 

The next day we spent wandering the city and stopping in at all the interesting spots for beer. Lunch was at Mercury's (it turns out Freddy Mercury from Queen was born in Zanzibar) for some great calamari. 

At Mercury's we met up with Canadians Julie and Beth.  Julie was wearing a Queen's physical education T-shirt which Mike knew people only could get if they steal it from the gym. After another beer, Jimmy went over to the two women and accused Julie of stealing her shirt.  Turns out she worked for the Phys. Ed. Centre and the shirt was given to her. They joined us for lunch which was great and  gave us great advice on travelling through Rwanda and Uganda.  It turned out that Beth volunteers for a Sports Programme ("Right to Play") in Kampala.  We chatted for quite some time and let them know we would be at the Africa House for sundowners. 

After a quick siesta and shower at the hotel that is right where we ended up.  We showed up a little early for the sunset, but that was a good thing as every tourist in Stonetown that evening came to the Africa House terrace for drinks.  At the Africa House we met Michelle.  We recognised the young woman who had lunch at the table next to us at Mercury's.  We borrowed her "Africa on a Shoestring" book as Mike was looking for a bank in Stonetown.  She was alone at lunch and alone again at Africa House so Mike asked her to join us.  Michelle is from Australia and her friend left that day to take the train to Victoria Falls.  Michelle was flying the next day so had the day to herself in Stonetown.  AND it turns out it was her birthday.  So we enjoyed her company and hearing of her travels through California, British Columbia, Egypt and Tanzania. 

After the sunset Julie and Beth showed up and all six of us made our way to the infamous Indian restaurant for dinner.  Dinner was excellent though a tad spicy for Julie and Mike.  So much so that Mike had to make a headband with his napkin to stop the sweat from stinging his eyes.  It was a great night after a great day.  We said goodbye to Julie, Beth and Michelle after exchanging phone numbers and email.  We are hoping to see Beth in Kampala and Jimmy may be able to cross paths with Michelle in Johannesburg.

The next day was another nice late start.  After breakfast Jimmy, Mike and Cathy headed out again to see the sights.  We managed to stumble across the anglican church and old slave market.  We saw old slave quarters, the church (which has the alter where the old slave post was) and a memorial.  It was pretty heavy and a must see in Stonetown.  After that we headed to a nice Italian restaurant for some drinks and lunch (with great ice cream).  Then of course we had more drinks after lunch at the Serena Inn (a 5-star hotel on the water). 

Sunset that evening was taken in at Mercury's and was probably the best sunset we had seen so far.  After drinks and Mercury's great calamari, we headed along the water to our dinner destination.  Along the way to the restaurant we passed through the park on the water.  All along the water's edge food stands were set up.  Each stand selling a variety of foods, mostly seafood and fish on a stick.  But there were also somoosas, pakoras, nan, doughnuts, chips, huge calamari heads and octopus.  Mike couldn't resist.  We stopped and Mike got calamari, baracuda and shark kebobs and some nan.  Another appetizer before dinner.  There were many stands set up and the park was super busy.  It was fabulous and another must do in Stonetown.  We continued on to dinner where we ate at "Monsoon Restaurant", a swahili restuarant where patrons eat in traditional style on the floor with musicians in the background playing great East African music.  It was a great experience and so relaxing both Jimmy and Mike had a couple of laydowns during dinner. 

The next day was another late start and the end of our stay in Zanzibar.  Mike, Cathy and Jimmy are now off to Moshi (and back to camping) where we will meet up with Matt and explore Northern Tanzania.