Last night we all packed some essentials into smaller backpacks to take with us to Zanzibar for 3 days. The truck, and Vincent, will be staying behind. I'm gutted for Vincent as he's always the one to stay behind when the tour guide and translator go to the island but he's been there before so isn't too bothered.
Apparently there is a little restaurant nearby where he spends his time drinking beer and eating pap! Enough to keep Vincent happy for days… He's also a man for the ladies and, apparently, has one in each town despite having a wife back home. Gossip is rife amongst the Nomad staff and Stefan is nice enough to give a few of us some snippets! Knowing Vincent though it's not just idle gossip!
We got up early and Mandla drove us all, with Vincent, to the ferry port. He then dropped us off and drove the truck back to camp as he's the only one on board with a licence to drive it. Vincent took us across on the ferry to the office to get our boat tickets to the island and we then had to wait for Mandla to catch up. When he did Vincent waited around until it was time for us to go and then headed back to the campsite without us.
It took about an hour to get to the boat office despite the insane amount of early morning workers making their own way into the city with bicycles, motorbikes, trailers and on foot. A lot quicker than driving around!
The boat journey took about 2 hours although I slept most of it. The boat itself was like a slightly smaller version of a cross channel ferry and was quite luxurious, all things considered. The seats were about as comfortable as you might expect on that type of boat but that didn't deter me from passing out for almost the entire journey. I must have been tired!
Just as land was coming into view I woke up but was still too drowsy to get up and take pictures. From there the island didn't look half as spectacular as I had expected and the weather didn't look too brilliant either. It had clearly been raining!
On dry land we had to go through passport control. Strange really seeing as Zanzibar is still a part of Tanzania, although its more complicated than that so I'll refer to my trusty itinerary:-
"Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25-50 kilometres off the coast of the mainland, and consists of a number of small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, informally referred to as Zanzibar), and Pemba. Zanzibar was once a separate state with a long trading history within the Arab world; it united with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964 and still enjoys a high degree of autonomy within the union. The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City, and its historic center, known as Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site. Zanzibar's main industries are spices, raffia, and tourism. Zanzibar is also the home of the extremely endangered Red Colobus Monkey.
The word "Zanzibar" probably derives from the Persian, Zangi-bar ("coast of the blacks"). However, the name could also have been derived from the Arabic Zayn Z'al Barr ("fair is this land"). "Zanzibar" often refers especially to Unguja Island and is sometimes referred to as the "Spice Islands," though this term is more commonly associated with the Maluku Islands in Indonesia.
Some trivia: Zanzibar was the first region in Africa to introduce colour television, in 1973. The current TV-station is called TvZ. The first television service in mainland Tanzania was not introduced until some twenty years later.
The musician Farrokh Bulsara (a.k.a Freddie Mercury) of Queen was born in Unguja, Zanzibar on September 5, 1946 to Indian-Parsi parents, who were employed by the British colonial administration. There is a restaurant named 'Mercury's' on the beachfront of Stone Town. In September 2006, a radical Islamic group on the archipelago, Uamsho, forced organizers to abandon plans to mark his 60th birthday, saying he violated Islam with his openly gay lifestyle. Zanzibar criminalized homosexuality in 2004, but despite this it remains a popular resort destination for the South African gay community."
Once through passport control we were met by our local guide who ushered us all into a deliciously air conditioned minibus to take us to our guesthouse. The island is extremely hot and humid!
Accommodation for the night is basic but clean. It seems to be in a good location though so no complaints there. By this time it was lunchtime and we were feeling hungry so everyone headed out to grab some food promising our local guide to be back at 2pm for a spice tour and a tour of the town.
The tours are optional extras and our guide was only expecting to do one of them. He thought that we would choose the one we wanted to do between us meaning we would have all afternoon for that one activity. Unfortunately for him everyone wanted to do both! This meant a more restricted timescale but we were sure he could pull it off.
First off all we were taken by the same air conditioned minibus to a small farm outside of the city that grows lots of spices as well as fruits, vegetables and other plants local to the area. There another guide took over and took us on a tour of the small, tropical farm.
I'm ashamed to say that we were given so much information during this tour that I've forgotten most of it. It was REALLY good though, much better than I expected and very informative. Everyone enjoyed the tour, even Mandla who joined us because he's never done this tour before. The highlight for me was the frog a local kid made of out reeds for me. He made one for each of the women and made them into necklaces. So sweet!
Afterwards, most of the group having spent a small fortune on spices in the little shop, we headed back into Stone Town and were dropped off for our city tour. This was pretty boring by all accounts, probably not helped by the fact it was fast getting dark and the tour was shorter than normal because of this.
We did see one interesting feature, the grave of Tippu Tip, a slave trader of the late 1800's down one of many back alleys. What made it so interesting is that the whole site is one big rubbish tip, a fitting tribute from the locals!!!
The town itself is a World Heritage Site although I didn't find it overly inspiring. It was pleasant and the many winding alley's that seem to go around in circles and aid to get you well and truly lost (even with my pretty good sense of direction) were rather quirky, but other than that it was just another old town.
There is of course the Freddy Mercury museum but it looked shut!
After the tour we went to a nearby hotel which has picture perfect views of the sunset over the bay, although the sunset wasn't at its best on this particular evening, and enjoyed a cocktail or two. Those of us who were feeling hungry then went down to the nearby food market which sets up each evening further up the beach and offers meat and poultry kebabs and lots of seafood for a cheap evening meal. To drink, there is freshly squeezed Sugar Cane, something Adam's never tried before!