The next big highlight on the tour was Zanzibar. The tour was 3 weeks long but a lot of the time was actually spent driving long distances across East Africa, and there were only a few places we were stopping at for a few days. The rest were just stop overs for the night along the way.
The first highlight was the Serengeti and the second was Zanzibar. In order to get to Zanzibar we had to drive for 2 days from Arusha to Dar Es Salaam, where we were getting the ferry from, via Lushoto, a small town up the top of a mountain and about half way to Dar Es Salaam. We got to Lushoto at a fairly reasonable time and although there was a sundowner trip to a mountain viewing point on offer, for a ridiculous $20 per person, everyone on the tour decided to take advantage of some time chilling and spent the afternoon on the hotel veranda before having dinner by the truck.
The morning was an early start and we were on the road by 6am heading for the ferry. There was a bit of excitement on the way when leaving a shopping mall car park and our truck got stuck on a rope tied to a barrier, managing to pull the concrete barrier out of position. It caused a 30 minute argument with the world and his dog getting involved (mostly just randoms off the street rowing about what happened and whos fault it was!) and eventually our driver got dragged into the office, where I'm sure he bribed his way out, before we were allowed to go on our way. We then had a nervous 45 minute drive to the ferry terminal with all of us convinced we were going to miss the ferry, the last one of the day, but luckily managing to catch it by the skin of our teeth and could all relax on a nice 2 hour ferry ride to Zanzibar.
We were staying on the island for 3 nights, the first night near Stone Town and the last 2 nights north of the island in Nungwi. When we arrived at our first hotel we were again stunned at how lovely it was. It was right on the beach with the bar and restaurant hanging over the sea. The sun was just setting so we sat in the bar with sun downers before getting showered and meeting in the restaurant for a nice meal.
In the morning we were picked up by a Zanzibar tour company and taken to Stone Town for a city tour. The town was actually pretty tiny, but was quite cute, all oldy worldy with higgledy piggledy tiny streets and alley ways. It reminded us of Morocco. Part of the tour was to take us to the fish and meat market where they auctioned off whole fish and sold cuts of meat. It absolutely stank, there was no ventilation and I'm not convinced it's ever cleaned either so wasn't particularly hygienic! In the meat section they sold every part of the animal, including heads! I saw a cows head out of the corner of my eye and had no interest in seeing it properly so head down, I held my breath and marched to the end of the market. Grant of course didn't follow me and instead stood there taking photos of all the gore! How lovely! ;-) Next stop was the old slave auction house where we could see the conditions slaves were kept in before being sold off, it was awful. They were kept in tiny rooms in the cellar that flooded when the tide was in. Apparently it was closed down when slavery was abolished after an English General visited Zanzibar, saw what was going on and campaigned for slavery to be made illegal. Eventually he got his way. Glad to see we did something right!
After the tour we were given some time to wander round and do some souvenir shopping. We've bought wrist bands and a key ring in every country we've visited so wandered around perfecting our haggling skills and were quite impressed with our purchases. The rest of the group were doing a spice tour in the afternoon but it wasn't really something we were interested in (or wanted to pay for!) So Grant and I, and Marco another member of our group, got a shuttle to our new hotel in the north of the island to relax for the afternoon.
The Nungwi hotel was even nicer than the Stone Town one! Again it was at right on the beach with a bar, restaurant and cafe hanging over the beach, and when the tide was in also hanging over the sea. It had a massive infinity pool with sunbeds all around it and after a bite to eat in the cafe above the sea, we spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun and swimming in the pool, waiting for the others to join us. It was lovely. It was the first time in a while we'd been able to properly relax. We needed it after spending so much time on the truck and getting up before 6am every day for the last 3 weeks!
We had made pretty good friends with another couple on the tour Jo and Kev, who had lived in London for the previous 6 years and were travelling around for a few months before going back home to New Zealand. We spent most of the first week hanging out with them, with Marco from Germany sometimes joining us, and when they got back from the tour we headed to the bar for happy hour cocktails and watched the sun go down. For dinner that night the group headed to the hotel restaurant for a nice meal, that for some reason seemed to go on for ages, and we got to bed about 11pm, late for us over the passed few weeks!
The next day was a day off from the tour. We had no activities planned so it gave us the chance to just do what we wanted with our day. The morning didn't have the best weather so Jo, Kev, Grant and I decided to have a wander down the beach while the tide was out and find a turtle rescue place that Jo had heard about. When we eventually found it we were pretty impressed. It was a rescue place for turtles that were caught by accident by fisherman. There were about a dozen massive turtles which you could feed seaweed. They swam up to you and took it right out of your hand. There was a separate section for baby turtles, who would be reintroduced to the wild at some point, and you could pick them up! Most of them didn't like it too much so you couldn't hold them for long but my one seemed to be resigned to it and just sat there in my hand staring at me. So cute!
We wandered back down the other end of the beach, said 'no thank you' another million times and headed back to the hotel to sit by the pool. The weather had almost cheered up so while we were waiting I had a lovely cheap massage (it didn't exactly have a happy ending but the women certainly wasn't shy about where she was massaging, she didn't even bother covering me up! Bit odd!) Then the sun finally came out and I baked myself in the sun for a few hours.
That evening we had seen a nice restaurant next door so Jo, Kev, Grant and I went out for a lovely meal just by the 4 of us. It really felt like we were on holiday :-).
The next morning sadly we were up early packing to leave our hotel and head back to Stone Town for a bit more wandering around before getting the ferry back to Dar Es Salaam. I really enjoyed Zanzibar and could have done with another day or so there, but it was nice to see it and certainly did relax us!
The ferry ride back was pretty uneventful until we got to Dar Es Salaam, where we were expecting to get picked up by our truck, only to be told that there were too many road works for the truck to come into town and we needed to get another ferry to the other side of the city. We were all ushered onto a local ferry, causing a bit of a stir with the locals who obviously weren't that used to white people being on there, and nearly got lost in the throngs of hundreds of people getting off, eventually making it to the truck.
Once on the truck we had a short drive to the beach where our accommodation was for the night. Yet again the accommodation was lovely, with our room being in a tree house with a hammock on the balcony. We had a quick swim in the sea then chilled out on the balcony reading before a few drinks in the bar, and dinner by the truck. The next day we had an early start to pick up 5 new people to join our tour so it was an early night ready to get up at silly o clock and meet our new friends.