Following our challenge that we completed to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, our tired bodies were guiding us naturally toward a more relaxing week in a calm and peaceful scenery. What’s better than beautiful beaches and turquoise water to accomplish this!
August 11th – Transfer to Zanzibar
We flew that day from Kilimanjaro Airport to Zanzibar. Benoît and Eloise had left earlier in the morning and Komivi, Gabby and myself took another flight later in the afternoon. We arrived in Zanzibar around 7pm at night and already had our driver awaiting us at the Airport. We drove through the Island from the West to the East coast up to a small fishing and kitesurfing village named Paje. The air was definitely warmer and more humid than the previous week inland. The scenery was also quite different as Zanzibar is Muslim compared to the main land which is more mixed and mostly Christian.
We reach our accommodation, Hakuna Shida Guesthouse, in Paje around 9pm and went out nearby to explore the beach at night and we had few drinks and dinner at the bar next door (Paje by Night). The place ran by expats, was quite nice and modern, although it was relatively quiet with only few travelers were sipping their drinks.
August 12th – Zanzibar – East side- Paje
We woke up after a good night of sleep to the side of the beautiful white beaches of the Indian Ocean. This part of the trip wasn’t particularly planned ahead and the next couple of days were not really organized, we had only a list of few highlights to checkout.
We had breakfast at the guest house and met with Jorge the Peruvian hotel manager and went by the beach to see the surrounding and checkout things to do for the next couple of days. The beach was magnificent. It was low tide and the shore was going far into the sea. The water was warm and the breeze also was. It was good! There were few kite-surfers around grasping every pocket of air and shattering the waves.
We were quite productive for a relaxing day and organised the next day dive trip, we booked a blue safari tour. Inspired by the action going on outside Benoit booked a session of kite surfing. We also organised a BBQ on the beach and rented a car to go around and explore the big island, everything was negotiated intensively with Komivi our African expert!
We took the car and went visiting the Jozani Forest for its Red Columbus Monkeys and the mangroves and forest about half an hour away from Paje to the West. A local guide brought us in the forest where we could observe these monkeys, who can only be found on Zanzibar. Another interesting feature of the place was that the ground was covered with old coral stones. This indicates that Zanzibar was at some stage in history under the sea level. The forest was nice and dense. We drove back to Paje afterward and stop by the supermarket to get some booze for the BBQ on the beach.
As promised by the local fishermen, they prepared a fresh seafood BBQ and spice rice for us on the beach. It was honestly really nice! Food was delicious and fresh and the ambiance given the fire on the beach was awesome. We stayed for some time discussing with the local and exchanging on culture. We appreciated the fact that Paje was still at the early stage of touristic development and the sentiment of the locals toward tourists in general were still really good, bringing a little economic boost to the place but without transforming it tremendously, at least as of yet.
August 13th – Zanzibar – East side – Paje – Diving
We had breakfast and then Benoît went masterising the art of kitesurfing. In the meantime, we decided to go and explore the south eastern coast of Zanzibar. We drove for about half an hour on the coast and parked in a small village. We then walked on the beach exploring the local area. The beach was really nice. Tide was low, villagers where fishing and collecting shells on the beach.
We drove back to Paje just in time for the Diving trip we booked with Buccaneers Diving. The sea was getting more agitated as we were riding away from the shore. The first dive was good but not exceptional. Corals were nice, plenty of fishes and the visibility was great, but nothing I haven’t see in my previous dives in Australia, Vanuatu, Indonesia or PNG (which are all diving paradise, so our standards are high!). The sea was getting more choppy and we were all starting to feel it. I was probably the worst among the 4 of us, as usual. After an hour of surface time between our 2 dives getting hammered by the waves, we finally got in back to the water. The water was still quite agitated and a jelly fish stun Gabby. We panicked a little not knowing what type it was and the dive master wasn’t really caring too much. We descended in the water quickly where the situation improved significantly. The dive was very similar to the previous one with a big wall. Even down at 15m we could feel the sea moving. We completed our dive and went back to the boat. We took off our gear and got back to quieter water as we were approaching the coast.
We met with Komivi back at the beach and went preparing for our second BBQ on the beach with Captain Kitete. He prepared us a nice BBQ too with another fire on the beach. Some of his friends joined and played music with us, drum and guitar. We also meet with another guy from Vancouver, Canada. A mountain tour guide who climbed the Everest and the K2 several time. Quite impressive. It was another good night.
For the next day, we had booked a tour for a Blue Safari on the South West side of the Island. We departed with few other people in a Dhow boat, a traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails used in the Indian Ocean region. To the contrary of the previous day, the sea was really quiet and the ride was enjoyable. The colour of the sea was beautiful.
The tour was including few Island visits. The first was a sand bank. It was quite nice but heavily visited by tourist. We did some snorkeling. The next one was larger, with interesting features, such as a very old and massive baobab tree and nice coral reefs. The effect of the tides over time on the islands was stunning. Rock were carved by the sea, at the point that you would have trouble understanding how some of the smaller rocks could still remain standing!
On the way back, we sailed the entire way. It was quite pleasant. Arrived back at our guest house, we prepared our stuff for our last night and dinner all together. We then went to Paje by Night for a drink or two.
August 15th – Transfer to Zanzibar
We all left early in the morning so that Benoît and Eloïse could catch their flight to France and Australia. As for us, we drove to our hotel in Stonetown to check in and drop our bags and then went on a Spice tour to discover some farm land around where they cultivate a range of spices for which Zanzibar is famous for.
The tour was quite interesting and we bought couple of ingredient to do our own version of the delicious spice rice back at home. Could you guess what are the ingredients above? Among other, you should be able to identify Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, and Vanilla. We even had some demonstrations of acrobatic skills by a guy climbing that huge coconut tree bare foot and doing some free style pose in the air, without too much of a safety net or fears.
After the spice tour, we went on foot exploring Stonetown. We were very surprised by the city that has a different feeling than all we have seen in Tanzania so far. First by its people as it was predominantly Muslim and by its mixed Persian and Indian influence and architecture (doors especially). We went exploring on foot around town where scooters, bikes and people all shared narrow alleys and buzzing streets. We visited the slave markets (*sigh*) that was active until it was abolish early 1900, old churches and other crafts markets.
We finished our walking tour at the city port for sunset. There was a lot of things going on, families hanging around, a night street food market, different people performing street acrobatics or music and the most interesting one some youth running and jumping off the ledge of the pier in the clear waters.
We had a couple of drinks looking at sunset and listening to Jazz music and then we had some fresh seafood. We came back early that night, pretty exhausted from the day of walking.
August 15th – Transfer to Zanzibar
We had breakfast on the roof top of the hotel we were at for our last day in Tanzania. Komivi left early in the morning for his flight back to Canada. Our flight was scheduled for 1pm. We took the opportunity to see more of Stonetown and got back to serious business looking for the “precious”, that ring that I didn’t carry with me on the Kilimanjaro! Unless you looking for Tanzanite (a gem apparently unique to Tanzania), I couldn’t find anything nice enough for Gabby’s hand. Therefore I decided to pass on the opportunity for now and keep looking once we are in Singapore, the last leg of our journey.
Arrived at Zanzibar airport, the fun was over with all the chaos and the disorganization of the place. We also learned that our flight was delayed for initially 1 hour, that turned slowly into 2 hours and then 3 hours. That squeezed our time at Dar es Salaam for our international flight to Doha and Singapore but finally managed to make it okay. Well almost, as my luggage got lost when we arrived in Singapore!
Thanks for readings,
Pascal & Gabriela