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Stone Town, Zanzibar

I’ve been taking you on my Zanzibar trip this past week, so don’t forget to scroll down and click on “Older Entries” to view the other posts and photos.

Sox and I decided to find out how much it would cost to go to Stone Town. Mom and Dad had started their trip here and were now back in SA. It was our turn to explore.

At the hotel, the tourism desk wanted to charge us $187 for the 2 of us to be transported to and from Stone Town with a quick tour.

As a South African who has to convert dollars by 10, that just seemed too expensive. We enquired a bit more and found another tourist guy who would take us there and back for $35.

We took the hour long trip and as we got out of the taxi (thankful for aircon), we were hit by the humidity and heat.

It was an absolute culture shock, but one that I thoroughly loved. There were a bunch of guys who approached our taxi and I must (shamefully) admit that I was a little bit scared. It’s intimidating when you have men rushing at you, speaking another language. It turned out they were all trying to become our personal tour guide. We bartered with one guy and he took us on an incredible tour.

We went through the fish market, which was an absolute stench and got whisked through the rest of the market of stalls selling spices, sarongs and kaftans, fresh fruit and vegetables and other tourist attractions.

We wandered through the streets… bicycles and scooters everywhere gave it a European feel, almost.

Prettiest Man Hole covers I’ve seen

Our guide took us to the Slave Museum, which honestly broke my heart. It felt very heavy and stifling as we walked through.

Our guide was an amazing story teller and if I didn’t know any better, I would almost have thought he had been there at that time. He almost felt like a ghost coming back a century later to relive and describe his tales. He got emotional at times and I could feel the emotion and pain the slaves must have gone through.

A magnificent church was built on the grounds where the whipping tree used to be.

This tree is where the Slave Auction would take place. Buyers would stand around in a circle and the slaves would be under that tree, waiting to be sold.
This picture is eerie to me

Dr. Livingstone put a stop to the Slave Trade and is a hero to this day.

This is the original organ – it’s over 100 years old and still works perfectly.
Edward Steere who built the church and helped Dr. Livingstone is buried right here, within the church.

We were taken into the room where the slaves were kept. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, not because I wasn’t finding it fascinating and not because the reality of what happened there was uncomfortable, but because I felt like I couldn’t breathe down there and call me crazy, but I could feel the air thick with tragic emotions.

This is where 40 slaves were kept at a time, chained together for 2 days with little to no food or water.

As we walked on, we saw a gap in between the buildings. How amazing to see the Anglican Church and a Mosque almost side by side.

 The town is famous for it’s beautiful doors. The rounded doors are Indian style and the rectangle doors are Arabic.

Jaws Corner is where the locals meet up and play their card games. Our guide told us that a week before, former President Bill Clinton had been sitting right there, chatting to the locals.

The Palace Gardens

This man had eyes that twinkled. I’m sorry they didn’t come out in the photo. I asked if I could have a photograph with him, expecting a “No!” but he was so excited to have his photo taken and this moment really made me smile.
I love this moment captured with the children running around me, playing.
Juicy Pineapple carts – I was so tempted. The pineapple is so delicious, sweet and juicy.

 If you’re a cat lover, Stone Town is for you. There are cats everywhere.

We stopped at Memories – the most popular tourist shop to buy souvenirs. Sox and I bought some Vanilla Tea, which tastes slightly more woody/earthy but just as lovely and fridge magnets.

I have never been so grateful for air conditioning.

Our guide took us to Freddy Mercury’s House. This is where he grew up.

At sunset, we went to the Forodhani Market where young boys jumped off into the water, fully clothed. I’m not sure what the tradition is for, but they all seemed to have an absolute blast.

We decided to try the pizza… We ordered a Cheese and Tomato pizza (which they added an egg to) and a Nutella, banana and coconut pizza.

They make pizzas differently to how I’m used to them, but they were delicious.

After an amazing afternoon/evening at Stone Town we returned to our hotel feeling exhausted, hot and sticky but blown away at how beautiful the town is and how warm and wonderful the people are.

Travel Tips: 

  • Make sure you wear clothes that are cool and don’t show up any sweat/water marks. It is so humid and hot that you will be drenched. My dress was soaked and that is no exaggeration.
  • Girls, I wouldn’t even bother with make-up. You’ll be wearing sunglasses anyway. Put lots of sunscreen on your face and leave the rest. It will melt off.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated. Carry water bottles with you and don’t forget the sunscreen.
  • Have respect for the culture. This is tricky, especially because it is so hot, but don’t wear mini skirts/shorts and strappy tops. Cover your shoulders.
  • Take as many photos as you want, but respect those who shy away from photos or ask you not to. They really do not like having their photo taken. Ask permission first.
  • It is better to have Shillings on you rather than dollars. They tend to round up when converting their shilling price into dollars.
  • When traveling to any new place and new culture, have your eyes, heart and mind open.
  • If you can spend a night or 2 in Stone Town, do so before moving onto another resort. I wish we had done this. My parents did that the week before we arrived and they really got to experience so much more, like the Spice Tour and Prison Island.

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