Holidaying in Zanzibar on a whim and fancy – Part 2
If you read my last post (Holidaying in Zanzibar on a whim and fancy – Part 1), you will know I recently visited this island off the mainland of Tanzania.
Armed with very little info on what to expect on my holiday, I was completely out of my comfort zone as I negotiated a foreign country, people and customs.
But the experience was phenomenal and I learnt there is something to be said for not over planning.
The plan was to recharge our batteries, not to over-exert ourselves with sightseeing and activities and to enjoy the local food and culture as much as we could.
Our second adventure in Zanzibar was what the locals call a Safari Blue. I booked it without explaining to my partner in detail what it would entail. The fewer details he had about anything involving swimming in the sea, the better. Suffice to say, he thought we were on our way to a picnic on the beach!
Depending on the sea that morning, boarding a handmade traditional wooden dhow is an adventure on its own. Tour operators inform you to dress in costumes, carry sunblock and wear flip flops. They’re right about this – take as little as possible and don’t take anything that could be damaged by water.
With the wind on our backs, our captain could switch off the engine as we sailed to a reef where we snorkeled at leisure. Calm seas, 20m visibility and an abundance of sea life around us made for breathtaking snorkeling. The adventurous ones snorkeled all the way to a sandbank not far off, where the boat stopped for fresh fruit and refreshments and bit more swimming.
Next stop – a mangrove lagoon. It was low tide so we could wade or swim through shallow water and enjoy the scenery. There is an abundance of these lagoons around the islands and with their weathered rocks, beautiful coral and clear water, they are truly a beautiful sight to take in.
Word of advice – if you’re venturing out on a Safari Blue, beach shoes are a good investment. Flip flops are convenient, but don’t protect you from the sometimes sharp and dangerous weather beaten rocks.
Finally, we stopped on a small island for our lunchtime picnic – a seafood braai – and a bit of retail therapy (because wherever there is a tourist there is a chance to sell something). At last the partner got his picnic on the beach and he was not disappointed. Lunch was phenomenal – the highlight being the braaied lobster and local beer.
As we rounded off our meal and shopping, the tide began to come in and people began packing up. These islands are almost completely covered by the sea at high tide, and you will only find people on them when a sea tour visits.
While we enjoyed the sun, sea and copious amounts of food through the day, I marvelled at how aware people are of preserving their environment. Even cigarette butts get scooped up and taken back to the mainland for proper disposal. The only thing we left behind were our footprints on the sand.
As our sun-baked, happy group headed back to Unguja, our tour guides led is in a round of the song you hear everywhere in Zanzibar. With its catchy tune and immortal phrase “hakuna matata” (no worries), Jambo Bwana (Hello Mister) is an internationally recognised Swahili song that is entrenched in the tourism industry in Zanzibar.
Despite our poor voices that could not compare with our guides’ voices, we all joined in. And as 12 people from four different countries sang on that dhow, music truly brought us together in one common voice. A perfect end to a fantastic day.
Listen to Jambo Bwana here:
- While this tour is one of the pricier ones on offer, it’s well worth it. It cost US$200 (roughly R2 800) for the two of us – a great deal when you take into account that it was a full day tour and included a constant supply of drinks, refreshments as well as a lobster meal.
- Watch this space for Part 3 on my trip to Zanzibar – resort living and why “all inclusive” is the way to go.
- If you missed it, read Zanzibar on a whim and fancy – Part 1 here.