I really hope you enjoyed this weeks posts of Zanzibar. You can see why I had to split the trip up in different posts. If you want to read my previous posts and travel tips just make sure you scroll down and click on “Older Posts.”
I absolutely loved Zanzibar. It’s a magical, tropical place with the most wonderful people.
There is almost no crime and so much love and respect for one another.
It definitely gave me hope in humanity for Africa.
When I asked the locals about the poverty, the people looked at me like I was crazy and asked: “What poverty?”
It humbled me. They have everything they need and they seem genuinely happy. I saw children laughing, kicking around a soccer ball, splashing each other in the sea. No TV, computer games occupying their time. Good ol’ fashioned happiness.
When we were in Stone Town there was a little kid with a toy gun – it looked so real that I think my heart stopped beating for a few seconds and I felt my blood go cold. When I finally breathed again, my guide started laughing at me saying: “Don’t worry! It’s just a toy. There are no guns in Zanzibar. Only the police have guns.” I asked about knives and he said this: “If you are caught carrying a knife and you don’t have a pineapple or a coconut, then the police will ask you what you are doing!”
I am so glad we got to experience both resorts – both very different, but both wonderful.
Knowing what I know now, my suggestion would be to go to Stone Town first and experience the old town, Prison Island, the slave market and museum, the palace museum, the food square, the jumpers at sunset and so on.
I would then move onto the busier resort and enjoy the fisherman, the village life and the Turtle Aquarium (an absolute must) and finally I would end off at the more private beach of Pongwe, where you feel like you’re on your own deserted island.
- Carry small dollars with you so that you can tip staff as well as possibly pay for photographing the people.
- Bring Tabard and take Malaria tablets – invest in the more expensive ones. The cheaper ones are known for giving people insomnia or night terrors. No thanks! It’s a personal choice, so ask your doctor for all your options.
- Don’t forget to have a Yellow Fever injection, 10 days before you enter Zanzibar. Any travel clinic will give you one. You won’t be allowed back in South Africa if you don’t have it.
- Wear cool clothes in material that doesn’t show up sweat, aka, stay away from the grey t-shirt. It is extremely humid and the dress I wore in Stone Town was sopping wet (thankfully you can’t see that in the pics) and it’s no exaggeration. I felt like I was walking around in one giant Bikram yoga studio. You literally drip – sexy!
- If you’re going to wear make-up, make sure it is water proof or it will melt off. I’d take the time to give your skin a rest. I hardly wore any make-up over the 10 days. I wore sunscreen on my face at all times, a little concealer, which I applied lightly and at night I’d put a little dab of lipgloss and waterproof mascara.
- You really can pack lightly and don’t bother packing heels. Obviously, check with the resort you’re staying at, but really, they will be a waste and take up unnecessary space. Most resorts ask you to “dress up” for dinner, but honestly, it’s just so you don’t arrive in your bikini or barefoot. When it comes to the dinner parties, you can wear a pretty dress and flat sandals.
- Be respectful of various cultures. If you are going to be walking around their villages, wear a t-shirt that covers your shoulders and don’t wear your short shorts and mini skirts.
- Shop around for the best prices. Sometimes the hotels charge exorbitant amounts for excursions. I’ll give you an example, we were quoted $187 for 2 of us to be taken into Stone Town with a guide. Crazy. We found a guy who took us via taxi for $35 and once we arrived, we were approached by various guides – we gave him $15.
- Another example, we were interested in the Jet Ski trips (which we didn’t end up doing anyway) and were quoted $200 each for 75 minutes or if we used one jet ski and shared it – $220. A little further down the beach, we saw another sign for jet ski’s and it was $15 for 30 minutes.
- When you’re at the airport – get Shillings. You can pay in dollars and shillings, but sometimes it works out cheaper in shillings when paying for goods in the markets or on the beach.
- We all know the sun is hectic and bad for you etc, but in Zanzibar it’s not kidding around. It also makes you go red. Even my Greek boyfriend, with his natural olive skin (so unfair) went red. You will go brown – a golden brown, but expect the redness first and don’t burn! Make sure you wear a higher SPF than you normally do. You will still tan. I didn’t apply sunscreen properly around my bikini top (it’s always that annoying realisation after the fact) and I burnt my skin so badly there it blistered. Not worth it.
To answer some of your questions from the comments you left me:
Melissa Jones: I love your bikinis and cover ups – are they recent purchases and if so where did you get them?
I recently got my neon bikini from Periquita (JHB and CT) and my black and white leopard bikini from Pringle. The green kanga I bought there at Pongwe. They make them for you in fabrics of your choice. My other cover ups are older and I’ve bought them in Mauritius, Woolworths and a little store I can’t remember the name of, sorry.
Jackie K: Wow, it looks so amazing, Is the resort all inclusive, meals, drinks etc included?
You get different packages. Most resorts offer all inclusive or half board. We were full board at Double Tree by Hilton and half board at Pongwe Beach. It really depends on how much you are going to indulge in with cocktails, food and so on.
Jessica Franks: I’m really enjoying your series on Zanzibar, especially because I am heading there in December. I just have one question – did you just take dollars, or did you take Tanzanian shillings as well?
We took dollars with us and at the Zanzibar airport we exchanged some rands into Shillings. I’d suggest you have both. The shillings are great for the beach vendors and markets. Dollars are needed for the excursions and tours.
Michael: What camera did you use? Your photos are fantastic!
I used my Canon SLR 550D and my iPhone 4S.