When my directors told me in early June that I would accompany my colleague Candis to Zanzibar came as a big surprise. I was very excited and nervous at the same time as I have never been to an Island before and never knew what to expect.
After preparing for a whole month for our Educational, final the day (20 July) has arrived.
Day 1: 20 July
My alarm was set for 03:00am as I needed to be at the OR Tambo International Airport at 05:00 am. The moment I woke up I had butterflies in my stomach, because I was so scared of flying (LOL). I felt very ill on my way to the airport but as soon as I arrived and met up with my colleague and the group of agents which went with us, the nerves was all forgotten and I was filled with excitement.
After all the required check in procedures we finally took off for Zanzibar at 07:45am, leaving a very cold Johannesburg behind us. Three hours it was announced that we were about to land in Zanzibar. Once the airplane doors opened we were welcomed with a heat wave of 27 degrees.
We all rushed off to get our visa’s which to my surprise only took 15 minutes. Finally we got our luggage and we noticed an African Encounters board with a tall man and a bright smile on his face, it was our ground operator Exotic Tours! I was relieved to see them as I knew I was now in good hands.
They lead us to our air conditioned tour bus and we were all handed ice cold mineral water with a cold face cloth to cool to cool us down.
We started our first visit in Stone Town, where we did a inspection at Serena Inn hotel (5 star hotel) and Dhow Place (3 star hotel) , these hotels are suggested for one or two nights stay in Stone Town. Walking through Stone Town I was amazed at how beautiful all the building was as all was built from Coral, each building had a significant door, which took you back to ancient times.
We had lunch at Mercury’s a restaurant flooded with tourist and named after the famous Freddy Mercury. I was amazed at how friendly the locals were as each one greeted (Jambo) hello in Swahilli.
We than made our way to the South East Coast where we would overnight at Karafuu Hotel Beach Resort (4 star hotel) Welcomed with a smile, refreshing welcome drinks and the smell of the ocean.
Day 2: 21 July
We had a buffet breakfast, checked out at Karafuu, and headed to all the hotels that we needed to visit on the East Coast such as Dongwe Ocean view a three star hotel very cozy , intimate, great beach and very suitable for honeymooners with a tight budget. We continued to se White Rose, Ngalawa Beach village which has the most tasty food, Uroa Bay Beach Resort, Marumbi and Palumbo.
Finally our last stop would be the famous Blue BayBeach Resort ( 4 Star), the time we reached Blue Bay we were all exhausted and had sore feet of all the site inspections and heat. We all just needed a cool shower and that exactly what we did, but first we did a site inspection of the hotel as well as Sultan Sands which is the sister hotel to Blue Bay. Both of these hotels have stunning room’s great services and friendly staff.
Our rooms welcomed us with a cool refreshed air con atmosphere. Later that evening we enjoyed a buffet dinner with so much to choose from we also entertained by animations (know as there entertainment) masai dancers, which was such a cultural experience. It is amazing how high each masai jumps, and how its is done with so much passion.
After a long day and a entertaining evening is was time to call it a night.
Day 3: 22 July
We had a very early breakfast, checked out and hit the road to go do the Spice Tour at the Spice Farm.
On our way there I thought to myself “spice tour boring” what could be so interesting about spices? Well was I surprised…
We arrived and our local tour guide was waiting for us. He took us through the spice farm and I was amazed at how much different spices there was and how each spices was planted and grew differently. The plantation was filled with nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, cloves, lemon grass, pepper, cinnamon; curry leaves, vanilla pods, and much more. Its such an experience to see how all these spice look as they are picked from the ground and before they are packaged and sent off to the suppliers.
As you walk through the spice farm you keep hearing people singing with the most beautiful voices it was to my surprise that it was a local that climbs the coconut trees. It was with such enjoyment to stand there and watch as this guy climbs this massive tree with is bear hands all the ways to the top, which made it looks as easy as 123.. As soon as he reach the top the signing stops and he shouts down at you to move out the way, as he drops down a few coconuts, than he climbs down as swiftly and calmly in that same beautiful song and voice. Once he reaches the bottom he cleans the coconut and serves you fresh coconut juice. It was amazing and I will cherish that experience with me always.
Once you complete the spice tour you are, taken to the little spice market where you can buy these spices from the locals.
We also got to taste the different fruits that are grown on the farm, such as the Jack Fruit which is a mixture of banana and pineapple, and the custard apple which Candis enjoyed to the fullest, to be honest was not my cup of tea.
After a nice fun day we headed back to Azanzi Beach Hotel where we would overnight. Azanzi is a 4 star boutique hotel, situated on the North East Coast with a spectacular beach. You can enjoy snorkeling as well as glass kayaking and they have the best burgers in the island…
Day 4: 23 July
Woke up early and refreshed had breakfast, checked out and off onto the road for our next site inspection.
We headed to Double Tree By Hilton (4 star), which is situated in the North of the Nungwi Village. The hotel is part of the Hilton hotel group.
I was amazed at how much effort was put in to welcome us, we were greeted by tall masie dancers, welcomed drinks, cold face cloths and all the manager where waiting with a smile. After we have completed our inspection at the hotel we were told to head to the beach to enjoy some cocktails ad mouth watering snack. We departed for our next inspection which was Myblue Hotel, which is surrounded by blue ocean..
Finally all our site inspections have been done and we headed onto Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort a five star resort in the North right next to MyBlue hotel, where we would be staying for our final night in Zanzibar.
I was very eager to see this resort as it is my Director Ewan’s best resort in Zanzibar.
I wanted to see what the big fuss was about.
Well we final arrived at the Royal at about 12H00 and I was blown away the instant the gates was opened. As you walk in you look straight in the blue Indian Ocean and four different swimming pools. Anderson the manager greeted us with such a soft caring smile and said jambo karibu (means hello welcome), He had us seated down with watermelon juice. He introduced himself told us about the hotel and handed us our keys to our rooms.
Each room welcomes you with the smell of nutmeg and cloves vary large spacious rooms, with air con, TV, Balcony facing either the sea or pool area. Huge bath tub and vary spacious shower, as well as bath rope and slippers in each closet.
After we were all settled in we headed off to do some shopping in Stone Town, this was so much fun as a girl never gets enough of shopping. The locals are so eager to make a sale and I was amazed at how they know how to bargain. The market is filled with all types of local crafts, spices, material and much more.
At about 16H30 we headed back to the hotel.
We enjoyed a great beach dinner / party with a love band and acrobats to entertain the guests. Later that evening candies and I was lucky to be given the permission to take a swim in the Infinity pool, which looks out onto the sea, it was the most breathtaking view I have ever seen it was clear skies not a star in sight.
Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort in my best and I would highly recommend it to all our clients.
Day 5: 24 July
We had breakfast, did our last inspection of the Royal Zanzibar, said our goodbyes and headed off to the airport.
We were greeted by our ground operator where they handed gifts over to each one of us. They handled our group check in at the 1Time counter, once checked in which took forever as in Zanzibar the locals move with ease and no stress unlike us South Africans. We finally went through custom, boarded our flight and landed in Johannesburg South Africa at 15H35.
My experience in Zanzibar will be cherished forever and I would recommend it to the young and the old. I enjoyed every minute of it and wish I didn’t have to go home.