November 19, 2011 – flight from hell…
We checked out of our tented camp and we were all a bit sad to go, the food was so fantastic and the staff treated us like royalty! We game drove all the way to the Lobo Airstrip and saw a few more animals. Lobo Airstrip is just that – a dirt airstrip – no airport building or anything that resembles an airport. You just wait at your vehicle for the plane to come!
We boarded a small cessna to Arusha, there were only the four of us along with a mother and son from New York. We landed in Arusha and waited in an area where the ground staff assured us that they would come and get us for our onward flight to Stone Town. We were supposed to fly with Coastal Air but instead we ended up flying with Excel, who we thought must be affiliated with Coastal. Quite some time later we boarded the same plane we arrived on (but with more people) to continue our flight to Stone Town – we weren’t very happy because initially we were supposed to be on a much larger plane. All of us commented on how they never weighed any of the luggage and the flight was full which made us nervous since the plane was so small. They told us where to sit so that they could proportion the weight. Once we started to take off, the power/overweight alarm went off! You could really tell that we were flying too heavy – at this point I was really nervous and prayed that we would make it to Zanzibar. We flew around some big thunderstorm clouds and ended up flying through a huge cloud that tossed us around a bit because the pilot was too involved in reading his novel – OMG we couldn’t believe the lack of safety! To top things off, as we were approaching Zanzibar the low fuel indicator alarm came on! OMG I hope we don’t have to do that again – EVER!
We checked in to our hotel and admired all the antiques they had on display, some of them were incredible. We found a place near the beach to have a beer and a snack while watching a brilliant sunset.
Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a unique place known for its cultural heritage of Arab, Persian, Indian, and European elements. It’s the ‘old town’ of Zanzibar City and was previously the capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate. It was a busy center for the spice trade and the slave trade in the 19th century. Many of the streets are narrow alleyways and I love narrow alleyways!
November 20, 2011
We were up early and ready to go on our Spice tour, after all Zanzibar is the spice island! Our spice guide was very knowledgable and kept the talk about spices interesting. For instance cloves are grown on massive trees and must be picked at precisely the right time for top quality, they dry them along the roads. My personal favourite was learning how cinnamon grows (I love cinnamon), and the bark of the cinnamon tree tastes like red hots. Close to the end of the tour it started raining and it didn’t look like it was going to let up. Our guide led us under a shelter where the locals were selling a few spices. One of the locals brought over a bucket of fruit and offered them to us to try. He washed the fruit with some water but we were reluctant to take any (who knows where the water came from or where the knife had been) but we didn’t want to hurt his feelings. We all tried the different kinds of fruit and they were really delicious, it was a nice way to wait out the rain. We finished off the rest of the tour and headed back to our hotel.
In the afternoon we embarked on a historical walking tour of Stone Town and we were taken back to the days of the Sultans and the slave trade. Our guide showed us some of the most beautifully carved wood doors and doorways that I have ever seen!
We wandered around the Old Fort which also had a little market. I was a girl guide back in the day so…
Part of Zanzibar’s dark past…
We had an emotional visit to the Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church, built in 1873. It was symbolically built on the location of the whipping post from the island’s largest slave market. Located on the grounds is one of the most famous Slave Monuments in the entire world. We also visited the slave chambers, we were led underground into a dark, cold, stone holding cell. Our guide told us that this place was reserved for women and children only. It was so hard to imagine what these poor people suffered through while waiting to be auctioned. This is all that currently remains of the original fifteen holding cells of the East African slave trade.
We then wandered around town, through one of the street markets, and made our way to the waterfront promenade. We enjoyed another gorgeous sunset and watched the locals have fun on the beach.
November 21 – 26, 2011
Our driver picked us up in Stone Town and drove us to our beach resort along the northeast coast. We spent the rest of our days doing this!
On one of the days, I went snorkeling with my Mom, Cheryl went diving, and Gordon stayed at the resort. Mom and I had a fun time snorkeling! I think Gordon had a relaxing day by the pool.
Our resort was fantastic and we practically had the entire place to ourselves. The staff were wonderful and we quickly became friends. I loved our little villa and we had a huge deck overlooking the Indian Ocean. All the paths around the resort were lined with beautiful flowers. The beach bar was one of our favourite places to enjoy a beer!
November 27, 2011 – time to go home…
We had to literally wade through 8-10 inches of water to board the plane…this poses the question of whether to leave your socks and shoes on? Or take them off and go barefoot and hope to not step on anything too yucky. We opted for barefoot simply because we were connecting to our international flight home and didn’t want to endure a long journey with wet socks and shoes! The other question was, can this Cessna take off in this amount of rain on the runway? Apparently it could.
Africa is such a special place and if you have a chance to see it…GO! It will certainly steal your heart!
Where we stayed in Stone Town: Dhow Palace 👍
Where we stayed in Kiwengwa: Shooting Star Lodge 👍
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel