Zanzibar was one of those destinations that I was attracted to by its sole name. Indeed, I felt an incredible attraction to Zanzibar and I knew that one day, not so far away, I would go there.
Here I am now finally going to Zanzibar and I will stay there one week! Before Zanzibar, I was already on a safari in Tanzania. Tanzania is made up of a union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika (the African part of this country). We flew with Qatar Airways, for me one of the best airlines in the world.
I also saw Turkish Airlines, FlyDubai, and Ethiopian Airlines planes at Zanzibar Airport. So these are your options on how to get from Europe to Zanzibar.
The island is incredibly exotic. It is totally felt in the air. The first thing is that the air is really different, it is very hot and humid. There are smells everywhere, after all, this island is called the island of spices.
As I sat in the rooftop cafe of my hotel in Stone Town and watched the Indian Ocean I would watch small traditional fishing boats, then the ferries connecting Stone Town with Dar-al-Salaam, then tankers from all over the world. Across the strait you know there is Africa. You also know you are watching the Indian Ocean.
My hotel was the Best Western Stone Town, and is located in the historic center, along the harbor and promenade by the sea. The heat was exceptional, but the bigger problem was the humidity. Luckily the hotel was very high quality, and the air conditioning worked well.
When I needed to come to my senses, because of all the heat and humidity I would just go to my room and enjoy it for an hour. Still, I have to admit, the roof terrace of my hotel, which is also a cafe, was my favorite place to chill. I spent hours and hours there enjoying the views of the Indian Ocean.
All around you, there are Africans, Arabs, and Indians – these are the groups that make up the population of this island. So, from absolutely every aspect, I felt in Zanzibar in perhaps the most exotic part of the world I’ve been to so far.
Stone Town, the city of stone because is on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of its rich architecture. For me, that architecture was very exotic, as was the whole island. Namely, hundreds of years ago, rich sultans who ruled the island, as well as rich merchants would have built themselves magnificent houses. And today those structures form the city center.
As we have already said, Zanzibar is a combination of three exceptional cultures, Africa, Arabia and India, so the architecture of the island can be seen in these three cultures. The architecture is absolutely a mixture of India, Africa and Arabia.
Unfortunately, everything is in a very bad condition, and extremely dilapidated. Let’s hope that one day the local authorities will be able to raise funds to renovate the buildings. Renovation of most of the buildings in the historic center of Stone Town is absolutely necessary.
Walking through the center of Stone Town you will feel very strongly the breath of the past and all the majesty of the strength and richness of this island. Of course, we are talking about the past, because none of this is present here today. Today there are no more of these wealthy merchants who traded in spices, nor the rulers with their palaces. But that’s why they left us a legacy of extremely rich urban architecture.
Zanzibar is a favorite destination of many people who are just looking to relax in an exotic setting. For this reason, there are many bars in Stone Town that offer just that, a great relaxing atmosphere for a beer with light music, all in a typical ambience. You will spend a few days in Stone Town this way without any problems. And then switch to some place along the beach. It was the second part of my stay in Zanzibar.
Exotic cuisine of Zanzibar
Probably the most famous son of Zanzibar is the legendary Freddie Mercury. There is a lot in his honor in Zanzibar, including a restaurant, a cafe at the beginning of the promenade, that we frequented very often.
Especially enchanting is the evening market along the promenade, which is actually a very large open-air restaurant. You have so much to feast on, and it’s all about fish and seafood. No wonder when it is known that Zanzibar is an island that was throughout its history turned to seafaring. So many different fish and seafood dishes, that your eye can’t get enough of watching those scenes.
And only lobsters! We have never eaten as many lobsters in our lives as in Zanzibar! They sell lobsters at every turn and cheaply, too. I tell you, we will never eat so many lobsters again in our lives as in Zanzibar. Not to mention how exotic the cuisine is in Zanzibar.
You will realize very quickly that the island is called the island of spices for a reason. Africa, India and Arabia will come to the fore again, so you will enjoy the flavors. From swahili cuisine, to curry, to saffron!
The best expression of fish and fishing in Zanzibar is at the fish market in Stone Town. I have to admit that the intensity of the smell was a little too strong for me at the city fish market, so I shortened my tour a bit. But the experience is definitely unforgettable.
During your stay in Zanzibar, you have the opportunity to go on excursions and discover the island. These trips are really very interesting and enrich you very much. For example, on one trip we saw huge turtles. On the second excursion, we went on a so-called blue safari, a boat trip across the Indian Ocean towards the coral reef, and observed fish in all possible colors, then there is a spice farm tour and so on.
This island in the Indian Ocean is called the island of spices. We had the opportunity to go on a trip called “Spice farm”. We all thought that it would be an industrial plant, that everything would be sterile and that we would be greeted and shown on the “farm” by employees in white coats.
It’s not going to happen! We had a much better, surprising, not to say spectacular experience. Also, here we saw and understood in the true sense of the word why Zanzibar is called the island of spices. We came to the forest, there were some huts, some people live there. We were greeted by some of these locals and they lead us through the forest.
Everything we consider exotic grows naturally here. So it’s not that someone planted those plants here. No! They grow there on their own. So we saw a pineapple, a saffron plant, a coffee bush, tall coconut trees, all sorts of plants! Our guide and we took a walk in the woods, and he showed us all sorts of plants. For tourists, they wrote in front of some trees, plants, their names.
This was a surprisingly interesting experience. We really didn’t expect this, I was expecting an almost boring trip.
Blue Safari Zanzibar
Also, a trip that thrilled me, and I really didn’t expect it, was the Blue Safari. They took us to the other side of the island, where a boat was waiting for us. With that boat we sailed the Indian Ocean to the coral reefs. When we got to the coral reefs, we got a mask and snorkels, and swimming on the surface we looked at the coral reefs. That splendor of colors, all those colorful fish are a really amazing sight. You feel exactly like you’re watching the movie “In Search of Nemo” live.
Then we drove to the so-called “sand bank”, or sand dune in the middle of the sea. There our guide and the guys from the boat pitched a tent for us, to have shadows. The sun is too strong really, certainly a minimum of 35 degrees Celsius. Then we were treated to exotic fruits, pineapple, mango and other fruits from that region. We of course had time to swim as well.
For lunch we went on with our boat, to an islet that will remind me a lot of scenes from Robinson Cruse. In fact, a lot of things here reminded me of Robisson Cruseo. So did the place where we had lunch. They were like some kind of thatched canopy open tents, with wooden benches and tables. Like some kind of picnic area, but all absolutely in harmony with nature. And by Zanzibar nature.
Then our guide and the guys from the boat brought us lunch. Of course, lobster again. We had time again for swimming and for a walk in this magical, totally different nature.
To end the trip we went to a bay, very secluded and extremely picturesque for swimming. We swam, enjoyed every moment. Indeed, this trip exceeded all my expectations. We have seen so much, we have experienced the Indian Ocean so much. In fact, I don’t know if one can even get to know the Indian Ocean any better than this trip.
Of course, we also spent some days at our hotel, on the beaches of Zanzibar, without doing anything, just relaxing! But this day on the Blue Safari we had both great weather and a rich program. It was all really excellent!
I spent one week at Zanzibar, and I have to say that Zanzibar really met all my expectations. I have traveled all over the world, but I must admit that there is a particularly pronounced exoticism in Zanzibar. When we add to that that I have never eaten so many lobsters, it really is an island that exceeded all my expectations!
I’ve been actively touring the island, but it’s a good idea to also spend a vacation in Zanzibar at some beach hotel, a week or two, and do nothing. The beaches are really huge, like from postcards. Sandy, with palm trees, and the Indian island is always warm.
The differences in low tide and high tide are remarkable, so hotels even announce the hours in which the sea recedes the most every day. Sometimes you have to go very far to get to the depths.
Our return home was with Qatar Airways, one of my favorites airlines. We flew directly from Zanzibar to Doha.
Definitely, if you have the opportunity, go to Zanzibar!