Zanzibar - The Spice Island

 

It's very rare these days to visit a place that has not been heavily influenced by western society. New options and continually decreasing costs of transportation means that more people are traveling more places. Usually that means 7 Elevens and KFCs are opening in more and more locations. While that brings some convenience and familiarity, it's easy to see how that also means unique qualities of a place are eroded.

Zanzibar is one of a handful of places I have been that has (so far) been relatively untouched by the west. There's virtually no western chains of any kind on the island.

The Spice Island is located just off the eastern coast of Africa. Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to be one nation in 1964, forming what is today Tanzania.

GETTING TO ZANZIBAR

There are regular, numerous short shuttle flights between Dar Es Salaam and Stone Town, the main city in Zanzibar.

We flew on board a Coastal Aviation Cessna aircraft. The flight from Dar Es Salaam was only about 20 minutes.

Coastal Aviation's emergency exit instructions ... in Swahili only.

Zanzibar's main airport is also served by some limited larger airlines, including jet service to Dubai and Oman, as well as chartered service by LOT Polish Airlines, and others.

Zanzibar airport

SEEING STONE TOWN

One day is plenty to see the main sights. A walking tour of the city lets you explore the old, narrow roads and passageways. Numerous shops and restaurants carrying local and foreign products can be found along the way.

Colorful streets of Stone Town in Zanzibar

More streets of Stone Town

Zanzibar is known for it's old and beautiful doors. These can be found all over the island.

Gorgeous old doors of Zanzibar

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Architectural details in Zanzibar

Zanzibar street art

RELAXING IN ZANZIBAR

Following our stay in Stone Town, we traveled to the remote northeast part of the island and stayed at Matemwe Lodge. There was really nothing to do but enjoy the peaceful surroundings and relax - exactly what I needed to take a break from the stress of work.

Each room is a separate hut overlooking the ocean. There’s a nice breeze, but one of the drawbacks is there was no air conditioning. We managed to get by as the days weren’t that hot.

Matemwe Lodge isn’t near anything. It’s 60-90 minutes drive from Stone Town, so there is little temptation to leave the resort.

My friend Elias who was traveling with me did go into town one day to buy a ton of school supplies. We then walked over with one of the guides to the village just outside the resort and started handing these out to the endless crowd of very young kids.

It was a really special thing to do, and I’ve never experienced anything like it. The kids were so excited just to get a pencil or notebook. The experience was well worth the effort.

Fish at the Zanzibar market

Vegetables at the Zanzibar market

Bananas, anyone?

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More vegetables at Zanzibar's market