In this past week and a half I have been exploring Zanzibar and a part of Dar es Salaam. I started off in the North of Zanzibar; I was in Nungwi with my eldest sister. This was a little bit of a spoil trip as we were in a fully equipped hotel, which offered activities on the resort as well. Most of our days were spent on the beach, catching up and enjoying cocktails but we did enjoy some snorkeling near Tumbatu Island and kayaking at Nungwi. I had to keep reminding myself that there is nothing in the water surrounding Zanzibar; coming from South Africa I always make myself aware of the “swimming allowed” signs but out in Nungwi you can swim out as far as you like. I remember when the boat stopped for snorkeling and I thought “This is going to be a life of Pi” kind of story but it was one of the best experiences of my life. Just an important note when doing activities on vacation (especially water based), do not compromise on price. Even if you are doing budget travelling be sure to go with a company that provides everything you need and is registered. Saving money isn’t worth more than your life.
Pictures from Nungwi, Northern Zanzibar:
After dropping my sister off at the airport I went down to the East Coast; a small village called Paje. Here I was staying in Jumbo Bungalows, which is situated right on the beach. The first thing I noticed about Paje was the fact that it was less touristy than Nungwi. Though many people go there, investors have not interfered with the people and their lifestyles; as a result you won’t find large resorts in this area and if you do it is more modest than at Nungwi. This was a fun experience because in the morning you watch the locals fishing and collecting seaweed; going about their day as normal. Very different from Nungwi, where you have a private beach and the only locals you will see are the resort staff and the people trying to sell you things as you walk down the beach. So if you are looking for a more exclusive beach holiday the north is where you want to be; if you are looking for a place where the locals may join you for a drink at the bar and sit around the beach fire catching up after a long day the smaller villages are better. I also made a day trip to Stone Town; I was not so impressed by it and found very little to do but this is because I was not interested in doing an architectural or history based tour. Other activities you can do on the island, if you are tired of lazing around, are swimming with dolphins; a tour of Prison Island, which is where you can find large sea turtles; spice tour and blue safari, which is a day out on a boat. Remember that most of the villages do not have ATMs so take a substantial amount of cash to avoid having to spend money going back into town for a bank.
Pictures from the East Coast:
Once I was satisfied with what I had experienced on the island I began to make plans to go back to the mainland. I got a ride with a new friend from Paje to the Harbour, this usually costs $30. Upon arrival I bought my ferry ticket. I got the cheapest which is economy/business class- this costs $35 for non-residence on Azam Marine Ferry; the ride takes about 2 ½ hours and is very comfortable. When you arrive at the mainland you will encounter the same environment as the buses, in terms of porters and drivers; again just be firm, remember porters need to be paid once your luggage is loaded and go with whoever you feel comfortable with. There are more than enough options (you can read my blog on bus tips for more details). I was staying in Picnic Villa in Ubungo, Dar es Salaam. The only good think I have to say about this place is that it is close to the bus terminal. Otherwise, I would not recommend it. The day after I arrived I took the bus to Kariakoo, the local market area of Dar es Salaam. I left the bus station at 08:30 and arrived at 09:00. This trip cost me 400 Tanzanian shillings (R2,50). I spend the next 3 and a half hours walking up and down each street as I wanted to get some material and hairpiece before heading out. I had given myself the whole day because I wanted to make sure I got everything I wanted but by 12:30 the sun has very harsh and the streets had become too busy for me. Kariakoo is the local market place so everything is day to day living for the locals; Expect crowds, people pushing in the narrow alleys and shop keepers who speak very little to no English. What I did before going was learn how to say the following in Swahili:
“How much is this?”
“That is too expensive/ what about x?”
“Can I have x of these?”
“What colours do you have?”
I also reminded myself of how to say the numbers 1-10, a thousand and a hundred. With this small vocabulary I managed to get everything I wanted at a good price. In the afternoon I headed to Mlimani City Shopping Mall to meet up with one of my father’s friend. We had a late lunch at Samaki-Samaki, which specializes in sea food. It was meal fresh with a very welcoming environment, a great way to recover from the trip to the market. I must admit I think one day in Dar es Salaam was enough for me; It is a very busy city and going at it alone can be exhausting.