46 hours in Zanzibar

Let me preface by stating that this post should have been up days ago.  I’m not usually one to be jetlagged, but my body has been FEELING it for the past week.

I spent some time in Nairobi, Kenya (more on that in a later post) and Zanzibar, Tanzania over mid-winter recess, and let us just say I’m not too pleased about waking up back in the Bronx.

It wasn’t in the original plan to go to Zanzibar, but being that it is only an hr flight from Nairobi I couldn’t resist.

I decided to go with Kenya Airways. *Tip* book as far in advance as possible, as fares will always go up close to your departure.  Unfortunately, for such a short ride airfare is not cheap (I’ve never seen direct fares from Nairobi to Zanzibar below $200).

Alternatively, you could try your hand at getting a cheap fare from Nairobi to Dar Es Salaam (mainland Tanzania), then from Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar.  Unfortunately, my schedule wouldn’t allow this as an option.

I booked a resort in the Kendwa area, which is a popular resort town.  Kendwa is a long drive from the airport, so I arranged for a taxi prior to arrival (THIS IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  YOU WILL SAVE $$).  For an island with few main roads, traffic was for the most part smooth and trouble-free (be diligent at night however, as outside of the main city Stonetown, there are virtually no road lights).  I found the hour ride to from the airport to Kendwa scenic.  There is lush greenery that seems to go on and on.

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                                  Zebu Cattle…so interesting looking.

 

For months now I’ve heard about the beaches of Zanzibar and how they are top notch.  Driving to my resort, I did see flashes of the beach that made me go “whoa.” The excitement was definitely building.  Only to get to the hotel and be told that there are no rooms available.

 

Really?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that these things happen.  However, I was exhausted.  Really exhausted.  I had very little sleep in Nairobi (a good thing, trust me) and as anxious as I was to get in the water, I really need to get in a bed first.

Anyway, you need to know that outside of the reception and bar area, the wifi SUCKS.  For a lot of travelers it is no big deal.  Me on the other hand?  I need my innanets like I need my shrimp.  What could I do at that point?  My room was finally ready and I wanted to knock out.

Which I did.

A few hours later, I got myself together to head to the beach….only to be told there was no beach towel available.  I can feel the annoyance creeping up in the depths of my soul.  Did I make the wrong decision by coming here?  Let me give you the answer.

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                                       Kendwa Beach (where have you been all my life)

This is probably the best beach view I have ever seen (and I have had the privilege of seeing some GLORIOUS beaches).  To say my breath was taken away is an understatement.

 

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                                             Trying to be cute.

 

After some time in the water, I was ready for an activity.  The resort has a company on the premises that specializes in this sort of thing, but of course I skipped it.  The resort had a sunset cruise, but I opted for a local connect instead which saved me about $25.  This cruise was very no frills (bring your own snacks, drinks, etc.)  The selling point was mainly the scenery, which totally became worth it when I climbed up the ladder to the top deck.

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                              The sun soothing my skin and jazz soothing my ears.

We arrived back at the resort in time for dinner.  I opted for the pesto pasta with shrimp.

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                Good, but not mind-blowing.

 

I decided to use the lack of reliable room wifi as an opportunity to REALLY sleep.   I made sure to wake up early the next morning for breakfast.  Despite the pancakes, the breakfast was absolutely NOTHING to write about (I mean, yeah I know I’m writing about it…).

Oh, and they were trying to pass off hot dogs as sausage.  No Ma’am.

I met up with the same local connect to go on a snorkeling excursion.  Let me be clear, I haven’t had swimming lessons since I was 13.  Although I can wade in shallow water with little problems, jumping into the middle of the ocean was another issue.  Nonetheless, I decided to at least try.  I was given a lifevest which turned out to be woefully inadequate.  A nice traveler from Denmark coached me (along with the local guide) to get in the water.

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                                                My sad pitiful attempt at snorkeling

 

Although I didn’t leave the boat, I did peek into the water with the gear a few times and was able to view the really cool marine life.

Upon our return to the resort, I had a nice small chat with a fellow teacher named Diane.  I found her backstory particularly interesting.  Originally from “very white” (her words) Croatia, she currently teaches in Uganda but calls a Rastafarian community in New Zealand home.  I asked if I could take a pic of her and she happily obliged.

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She (like many others) encouraged me to leave the comforts of home to explore the world (but that is for another post).

That afternoon, I went on an excursion to one of the famous sandbanks in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  Although certainly not cheap, I thoroughly enjoyed my journey and time there.

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                                On the boat headed to the bank
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                                     My guide cutting up fresh fruit

 

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                                                      Putting my tripod to great use.
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                                                                 Back in Stonetown

We arrived back at the resort around 8pm.  Not in the mood for resort food, I was happy to spot a restaurant only steps from the entrance gates.

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I highly recommend Kiriku Happy Restaurant if you are ever in Kendwa.  The food was delicious, the service was prompt, the people were friendly….and they have wifi (so you KNOW I was happy).

After my meal, I went to the resort lounge to check out the party.

The non-existent party.

Feeling a bit tired anyway, I decided to browse the internet for a bit longer then go back to the room to pack up (I had a 9:30 am flight).

My taxi came for me at 6 am and just as fast as I had arrived, I was on my way back home.  Not nearly enough time, but ecstatic for the time I did have.

One thing that I would like to note is that Zanzibar is a warm, inviting place with beautiful people, food, and nature.  I do wish that more people of color would discover this place.  I certainly do not have an issue with all of the Italian tourists, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel a bit odd to be one of only a few (very few) black tourists on the island.  I truly believe that this needs to change.  The people of Zanzibar want to meet us.

I will certainly find my way back to them.

 

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