Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Zanzibar - Stone Town 2. - l.z. photo

Zanzibar - Paje - beach - l.z. photo

Walk down the street and your nose is sure to be tickled by the scent of drying cloves. Roadside street vendors will sell you honey-sweet pineapple, as well as coconuts and ten kinds of banana, and all for next to nothing… After boring a hole in the coconut and drinking the refreshing juice, you can split it in half and eat the tasty flesh.
If you want to travel like a local, then hop aboard a dala dala. These are minibusses that will take you as far as you want to go for $0.50. Here there’s no such thing as ‘full’ – they always find room for one more. Back in the city, be sure to try a chapati, which is a naan-like flatbread made of crushed corn and cane sugar, cooked over hot embers. You can get them rolled up and filled with sweet, sugary nectar so that when you squeeze it the filling oozes out. Kids keep rushing up, shouting for a jumbo pipi – a pipi’s a kind of sweet.

In the Stone Town market, you can find fish, seafood, and virtually every herb and spice in the world. Fruit markets, narrow alleyways, bakers selling fresh, crusty bread, and kids selling handfuls of nuts for pennies. The evening market, which greets you with the atmosphere of a town fair, is suffused with the indescribably seductive aroma of seafood on the grill.

Swimming with turtles… Get into the water and touch a passing turtle as it swims by. On Prison Island, you can admire some giant tortoises which are several centuries old. On the dolphin-spotting tour, meanwhile, you can jump into the water and swim with the dolphins as they glide past within touching distance. The herb and spice tour shows how fragrant spices are grown and prepared, while plants are folded into beautiful jewelry.

On the island of Mnemba you can marvel at the underwater world. Dive from a boat into the crystal blue waters of the lagoon, or else take a trip on a sailing ship that will take you back in time to the golden age of piracy. Nungwi is the place to watch the sunset on the beach, while the place we stayed, Kili Majuu, is perfect for watching the sunrise.

While you’re there, it feels good to give something back. We brought some notebooks from the city out to a rural school. Unfortunately, most tourists never see places like this; many of the kids don’t even have a pen to write with. The school itself is an unfinished building with two sides open to the elements, and only every other class has a teacher. Next time we come we’ll try to bring some necessary things from home. Every seventh person in the country doesn’t have access to clean drinking water, and by African standards this still counts as good.

We met many locals who don’t have electricity in their homes, so they charge their phones at a neighbor’s place. There isn’t usually glass in the windows. Still, everyone seems cheerful, and there’s none of the depression which is so ubiquitous in Europe these days.” (2019)

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I’d never been to Africa before, and I was a bit worried, but I soon fell in love with the place. It’s a gorgeous landscape with snow-white beaches, sand as soft as flour, and friendly locals. (Everyone smiles and says hello, and they’re always happy to help a perplexed tourist). There are many possibilities for excursions, though there’s no escaping the unimaginable poverty many people live in . My heart broke at times to see the stone/mud-brick houses without a stick of furniture. Listless, unemployed people sit on the concrete in front of their houses. There are no publicly maintained roads and no street lighting. What I loved, on the other hand, was the way the kids here all play outside. The grown-ups socialize, chat, and play football together in the evening. Nobody is captivated by their electronic devices. Tranquility.

For anyone heading to Zanzibar, I highly recommend a young TAXI driver. Extraordinarily reliable and friendly. He drives an air-conditioned people carrier that can fit nine comfortably. Look him up on WhatsApp or Facebook.
Saif Salim +255 773 299 070 😊” (B.V., 2019)

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We took an ‘optional extra’ tour, which visited a couple of the island’s major attractions – the spice farms. Here we were able, ‘on the spot’ to taste and smell these flavors and aromas while still fresh and learn a lot of fascinating facts about how these plants are grown. We also visited Prison Island, where giant, 100-150-year-old tortoises live. Then we took a walk in the world-heritage-listed section of the old town, and of course, took a look (though unfortunately only from the outside) at the house where Freddie Mercury was born.

One morning at dawn we went on a dolphin-spotting tour, which I’m almost tempted to call a major life event. We took a canoe out into open water, where the dolphins were swimming, and jumped in. We also hiked out to see the Zanzibar red colobus monkeys, which are unique to the island. Our final two days were spent relaxing at the hotel, which was entirely satisfactory in every respect, and strolling along the beach at low tide to admire the many little creatures that live in the shallow waters along the shore. The Masai traders of the handicrafts market near the hotel were always cheerful, good-natured, and entertaining.

Given the generally poor impression Europeans tend to have of the hygiene and security situation in Sub-Saharan Africa, we came prepared with a stockpile of vaccines and minor chemical/medicinal armaments – practically a walking pharmacopeia. In contrast to our preconceived notions, however, we found that as tourists, so long as we observed the standard hygiene and security advice, we never felt in any danger. The restroom facilities in roadside cafés were generally cleaner and better provided than, for instance, in certain Eastern European medical establishments we have had the misfortune to visit. Hotels always provided bottled water, even for brushing their teeth.

The locals were exceptionally friendly, hospitable, and willing to help, and despite some warnings to the contrary, we were in constant contact with them. That didn’t prove any problem at all. The meals in hotels were all first class, with a huge range of options and all manner of delicious spices. We tried all the cooked/baked food and all the fruit that could be peeled, and everything was delicious. The only mild discomfort came from an overdose of vitamin D – I’d never even heard of such a thing before this trip. Still, if that’s the price for such a fabulous trip, I’ll pay it… any day! 😊 (b. zs., 2018)

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I spent three weeks in Zanzibar, and the more I traveled around the island, the more convinced I became that this is the dirtiest place in the world. Everywhere I went there were stinking piles of trash, and the vendors in the markets are as shameless as they come. For example, one guy asked $250 for a pair of tarnished silver earrings.

Two hundred and fifty. The US. Dollars.

They also charged outrageous prices for pretty terrible food, especially the tough, poor-quality meat, which may or may not be rancid.

Normal toilets can only be found in big cities and major tourist sites – elsewhere not at all. Even when you find one, it’s often a real stinker with no toilet paper. The taxis are exponentially more expensive than the buses, but how much more depends on how much you flaunt your money. Still, if you’re a foreigner in Zanzibar, they’ll all assume you’re a millionaire regardless. And don’t get me started on the beach hustlers… Jesus, I even yelled at a couple of them to leave me the hell alone. Sorry, but I’m just being honest.
It’s true that I was there during a particularly rainy spell, but the mosquitos ate me alive, and every river and stream had burst its banks. The wi-fi never worked properly, there was no hot water, and I got the same breakfast every morning. I’m glad I survived, and I’m never going back. If you’re going, then for God’s sake, don’t rent a bungalow because that was like something from a disaster movie. Especially not with kids – unless they love cockroaches!” (amd, 2018)

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As soon as you leave your hotel or resort, you experience a big contrast when seeing the locals' small huts and the dusty dirt roads. Unfortunately, there is no public lighting, but at least public safety is good.
While on the island, we paid only in USD; we did not need any Tanzanian Schillings. They only accept USD banknotes issued after 2009.

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“What can be annoying is the constant hassling of beach boys, guides, and vendors. They couldn't come to the beach directly by the hotel, but as soon as someone got up from the bed and looked towards the water, 10 (fake) Maasai warriors were immediately ready to make a deal. 😄 In the beginning, it didn’t bother me since they are funny, and you can shake them off. However, after a while, the constant ‘Hakuna Matata, where are you from, blah blah’ got very boring😄 Because even if you can shake them off easily, that doesn’t help if there are already 5 others waiting to take their place. So, in the end, some irritated ‘leave me alone, please already left my phone, and I must admit, it was a bit ruder than that in my native language.🤭
Good one-liners to shake them off include ‘no English’, ‘this is my last day’ and, most effectively, ‘no money, although they typically want to talk after that.” 😄 (2022)

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“Activities: this is perhaps where opinions differ the most. Of course, we are all different, with different needs, but for example, I have no idea why a program that shows a specific place costs up to three times as much?! It is unlikely that it will add that much extra!

We went to many places by ourselves, by the aforementioned means of transport, and we booked two trips with Ismail (a local tour guide – I will gladly share his contact details) – we asked for many offers and ended up liking him the most. He always arrived on time, and everything was very well organized. In terms of prices, they can vary hugely from one activity to another!!!

Ask questions, ask for offers in advance to have a basis for comparison, and only then decide! 😉 We went everywhere privately, not with 10 other tourists, and I think at very good prices.

Pharmacy/laundry/store: you can find everything! You don't need to bring a home pharmacy, everything is available here, and they speak English well. There are also laundromats on the main roads in several places, for a fraction of the prices shown at the accommodation! You can also get a lot of things in the smaller shops.

North coast/east coast: we definitely liked Nungwi and its surroundings the best!😍😊 The ocean and the beaches are amazing, and we loved that even though there was life, it was not crowded at all. By contrast, Jambiani and its surroundings, on the other side of the island, seemed completely deserted. Due to the constant wind, it is a paradise for kite surfers. That didn't work out for us, on the one hand, because of the constant wind, and on the other hand, because of the huge difference between high and low tide. It's not like you can just take a dip whenever you're hot because the ocean literally disappears.” (2022)








Practicals

Transport

“Zanzibar with a Rental Car

- the main asphalt roads are fine, and the lower-quality sections are constantly renovated. For example, not so long ago the worst asphalt road on the island was the one between the villages of Uyagu and Kinyasini, but this section was renovated a few years ago. Now it’s wide, a hard shoulder has been added, and bus stops and a curb were built. But I could also mention the road leading from Pwani-Michangani to the port of Mnemba, or, further south, a completely new road between Jendele and Kwebona, where when at 150km/h a glass of water on your dashboard would hardly ripple (don’t go that fast!).

The most important things:
- The maximum permitted speed in Stone Town and the villages is 40 km/h.
- On national roads, it’s 50 km/h. (The police say 60 km/h, but the internet says 80 km/h in some places.)
But 50-60 km/h will be enough.
- There are hardly any speed limit signs, but if you do see any, it’s worth observing them strictly.
- There are a lot of ‘speed bumps’, which are usually indicated in advance with a sign. Take these slowly if you don’t want to be briefly airborne. Even if there are no signs, you should expect these kinds of traffic calming measures in all villages.
- Speed bumps or no speed bumps, drive slowly in the villages FOR YOUR OWN SAKE. This is especially important when driving at night because there is no street lighting, and people often sit on the side of the road and talk after dark. The side of the road is also used for traffic. Really pay attention to this so you don't get end up in an unfortunate situation. It won't be good for anyone.
- If an emergency vehicle is coming, either towards you or from behind you, you MUST GIVE WAY! Even if the police car/ambulance/fire engine would have room to pass you
- Make sure everyone in the car is wearing a seatbelt! That's what the cops always check.
- Don’t drink and drive!
- If you are driving, DO NOT SMOKE! It's forbidden.
- For your own sake, don't have your window down in a residential area, and especially don't drive with one arm dangling out the open window, like some rapper.
- In populated areas, avoid long, confrontational eye contact with the locals.

The country has frequent police checkpoints. Usually in front of essential road intersections, in larger settlements, at important transit points, along the roads leading to the ends of the island, etc...

- There will be a barrier blocking one or the other half of the road,
- You must slow down and stop as everyone else does. Then they may wave you on.
- If you stop, DON'T LIGHT A CIGARETTE! (inconspicuously buckle your seatbelt if you haven't already/put out any lit cigarettes! And preferably avoid blood dripping from the trunk.)
- The place will be busy with locals, dala dalas (minibusses) and small goods vendors,
- If the guard is very bored, he will take a look at you. He will look at a maximum of 5 things:
- Are the insurance stickers in order,
- Is your seatbelt fastened,
- Are you currently smoking,
- Do you have your Tanzanian temporary license and the one from your home country with you, as well as a copy of your passport, though this is rarely requested,
- Is your car dirty / particularly muddy? Make sure it isn’t – it will only cause you more headaches.
If these things are all in order, YOU WILL HAVE NO PROBLEMS!

He might not even speak to you. But if he does, he will ask where you have come from and where you are going. If he is bored and stops you alone, you can even chat with him. He may ask where you’re from. The GOOD ANSWER to this is that you’re from Germany. Even if you aren’t, say, you are. He won't check, but it will hold him back from many, many things.

‘In principle, corruption is punished very harshly... if it is revealed in higher circles. Don't let it be found out. In fact, it’s practically a national sport. But regardless, it's a delicate matter, and you never know when you'll run into a self-righteous policeman. Or one who has already been brought before the tourist court. By the way, there is a question sentence for that, which, if you use it, he will either understand and stick his hand in the window of your car, or he won't understand – which I doubt – and will answer your question:
Anything I can do to resolve the situation?
If you feel that the situation is still unpleasant, there’s one other thing you can try, which has worked for me in all cases so far. In fact, on one such occasion, all I wanted to do was show the policeman a photo on my phone, but he said: ‘Please, don't call the embassy, there's no problem!’
That's when I realized how much power lies in the number on my phone of the German Embassy in Dar es Salaam. It worked. It was enough to show the number.” (2022)

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“Transportation/transfers: there are a thousand and one ways to get around! After a long journey, it is only worth taking a pre-arranged transfer to the accommodation, just for the sake of convenience. This can be arranged either by the hotel or by a local, for a fixed price! But if you don't have a ride arranged, it's not a problem either, because there are plenty of taxi drivers waiting at the exit and offering to take you! We agreed with a local in advance, and he took us to Nungwi for 30 dollars and brought us a sim card. I would be happy to give them his contact details!

Car/scooter rental: There are quite a few pros and cons: If we were to go on a trip with our current experience, we would definitely rent a scooter in the area where we stayed. The main roads are not bad at all! You can easily get from A to B on the main roads. They don't drive like maniacs, generally pay attention to each other, and if they honk, they do it to signal that they are overtaking. I think there are a lot more idiots on the roads back home.

Renting a car is also easy to do, though there are many police officers on the road checking speed. There are no speed limit signs, and if you drive at 53, you'll be told that the limit is 40 (locals told me this), but you can negotiate with them. Be careful though. Here, too, driver get nervous when the police are out. So why not go for a scooter next time?

We traveled many times by dala dala, bus, and boda boda (a local motorbike taxi - 2 people + driver – best for short distances, fastest, and cheap – but make sure to agree where and how much in advance). Dala dala, a larger bus, can be flagged down along the main road. It has no timetable, but we never waited more than ten minutes for one! Its destination is announced at the beginning, but it can stop anywhere along the way. It is the cheapest transport, and there are many more interesting things to see than being crammed into a taxi. Used this option many times! For example, going from Nungwi to Stone Town cost 4500 shillings for two people; the journey took about 1.5 hours.” (2022)



Zanzibar - Stone Town - motorised tricycle rickshaw taxi - Dear Mama - b.b. photo

Zanzibar - public bus - s.t. photo

Zanzibar - street scene - s.k. photo

Accomodation

Attention! By all means, choose a hotel in the north or northwest of the island if you want to avoid ebb and flow-related problems with enjoying the sea for swimming, and splash-in. 

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Never stay in just one place in Zanzibar, no matter what anyone says; definitely stay in the north, Nungwi or Kendwa, and also in the south-east, Paje or Jambiani; this is how you can max out the island; and so you have a good chance of catching the sea in its most wonderful colors in both places. (2022)

Food

“We tried to visit mostly less well-known places recommended by locals – these were the tastiest, and likewise the cheapest! We ate on the beach, too, where the food was also delicious but more expensive. We are seafood fans, and we ate it everywhere, every day, and in all kinds of forms. They cook well, and the prices are good!

On average, we paid 40-60,000 shillings for two main dishes + two glasses of juice, + a salad, and sometimes we also drank beer. Beer is around 5000-8000 shillings. We liked Kilimanjaro the best. Juices made from fresh fruits are priced at 3000-5000 shillings.

You can pay in dollars everywhere, but in such cases, the restaurant exchange rate is one dollar to 2000 TSH, so it’s better to exchange in advance. It’s also better to pay in shillings in the bazaar. 50-100 dollars can be exchanged at a rate of about 2200-2300 shillings to the dollar at the currency exchange.” (2022)


Zanzibar - Freshly catched octopus for dinner -l..z. photo

Shopping

Zanzibar – Shopping

“Zanzibar: how to pay?

1.) CASH:

First of all, it is necessary to clarify what currency is in general use in Zanzibar and in East Africa INSTEAD OF THE NATIONAL CURRENCY.
The answer is simple. That currency is none other than the US DOLLAR. This is the primary currency, which does not mean that other – commonly used – global currencies are not accepted. Of course, they are, but there will be places where, for instance, the euro is not accepted in the same way as, say, the dollar.
The second most important thing is that the national currency is generally preferred even to the dollar. Of course, regardless of this, there are many places – mainly specialized for tourists – where payments are made in dollars. These include Stone Town generally, jewelry and gift shops, clothing stores, and hotels (we will talk about hotels later.) But there is one important thing. The price of everything on the island is determined in Tanzanian shillings (Tzs) and only then converted to dollars, which is then displayed on the price tag. But the starting point is the Tanzanian shilling. Even if this is not obvious to the tourist.
So it can be said that you can use any currency on the island during your stay there. Both have their advantages. For example, if you like to bargain, it is better to do so in shillings because the larger numbers mean you can adjust your offer in smaller increments. I mean you have a maximum of four steps down from $5 (assuming you’re only using paper money), while the same amount in shillings is 11,580, from which, assuming 500 schilling banknotes, there are 22 possible steps to the smallest denomination. But you have to carefully maneuver when it comes to where and with what you pay. Let's look at some examples:
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There are some places where you have to use DOLLARS.

In what places is it recommended?

- upon entry, pay the $50 per person VISA cost in dollars because, unfortunately, if you try to pay in euros, they will also ask for €50.
- the same situation with a possible test upon entry ($25).
- if you have rented a car and they are waiting for you after your arrival, you also pay this fare in dollars because it will have been agreed at the time of reservation. Do the same with the $10 for your temporary driver's license. However, since your tank will be empty, you will have to fill up at the first gas station, where you will have to pay in shillings because for one unit of both currencies ($, €) only 2000 shillings will be charged. So exchange some money - not a lot - for schillings at the airport.
- any boutiques and jewelry stores where you can't bargain, and the price tag has a $ sign.
If - in addition to the above - you come across a place where the price is indicated or communicated to you in $, feel free to convert the price to shillings using the middle exchange rate and ask if it is okay that way. It's usually fine. Then you can bargain. Just make sure you don't only have 10,000 schilling notes with you because in this case, you won't be able to use the old trick:
- I take it out of my pocket,
- I put it in his hand,
- then I shake his hand so he can't give it back,
- then I add to the amount until I see on his face
- that he’s hesitating, and then I take the item in question and I start walking.
Familiar?
Another place where, for your own good, you should pay in cash and in dollars:
...accommodation. First, paying by card is not advisable – even though it works in almost all hotels – because, regardless of location, a handling fee of 4-8% is added to the price. There may be exceptions, but they are rare.
Why is it absolutely necessary that your payable money be available in dollars?
In general, Booking.com, the largest accommodation search site, is set to display prices in your own country's currency first. So European travelers see the price in euros, say, while Americans see it in US dollars. Of course, you can change this to ANYTHING, but the site ALWAYS calculates for you at the average exchange rate. So, according to today's average exchange rate, if you pay €1,000, that will be $1,100.
Well now. You may think that since Booking.com enthusiastically announced that the place you want costs €1,000 or $1,100, you can pay the equivalent in any currency. But unfortunately, this is NOT TRUE.
Because your accommodation DEFINITELY entered the prices in dollars, Booking.com will convert them for you, but this is only for informational purposes. So if you show up at the hotel reception with €1000, saying: "Hello, here's my reservation!" and you even show the confirmation on your phone with €1000, you will be disappointed. The receptionist enthusiastically converts the €1,000 you have into dollars at the HOTEL'S OWN EXCHANGE and tells you that by their calculations it’s $1,050. So you still owe them 50 bucks. They’ll even throw in a handling fee if you're unlucky. Same thing with every other currency – but not dollars.
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Where do you use local money?
Everywhere where it is also used by the locals. In shops and restaurants, prices are usually displayed in shillings.
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How can I get local money, i.e., how to become a shilling millionaire?

There are two ways to do this:
- either before leaving home, you withdraw dollars or euros (the latter ONLY for exchange) and exchange it at a bank branch or a local convenience store. (You need to be experienced to exchange at a convenience store, I do not recommend this)
- or withdraw money with a bank card from an ATM. The machines accept practically all cards that are used back home, such as VISA, MASTERCARD, etc. You only have to pay attention to one thing: the machines dispense a maximum of 50 banknotes, mostly ten thousand notes, which is a total of half a million schillings. This equates to about $220. Not all of the machines charge a one-time withdrawal fee - if they do, they will inform you of the few dollars before the withdrawal – so otherwise, the costs will only be what your own bank demands. Also, it calculates your borrowed schillings with an amount close to the average exchange rate.
2.) PAYMENT BY BANK CARD.
Use it if there is a terminal, and you won't regret the extra cost – which will be charged to you. By the way, if there is no handling fee, I would encourage everyone to use this payment method. So: if there is no extra percentage – in most cases, there is – PAY by bank card.
That's about all can think of off the top of my head.
Everyone is different, and everyone thinks differently, especially about finances. My post is not just me mouthing off but is based on decades of experience.
If it turned out differently for you and your experience can be useful for the group, share it with us!” (2022)

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“We tried to visit mostly hidden places recommended by locals - these were definitely the tastiest and not least the cheapest! We also ate on the beach; it was delicious but more expensive. We are seafood fans; we eat it everywhere, every day, in various forms. They definitely cook well, and the prices are good!

On average, we paid 40-60,000 shillings for two main dishes + two juices + salad/ sometimes; we also drank beer. Beer is around 5000-8000 shillings. We liked Kilimanjaro the best. Juices made from fresh fruits are priced at 3000-5000 shillings.

Everywhere you can pay in dollars; in such cases, the restaurants exchange 1 dollar in 2000 shillings, so it is better to exchange in advance. It is also better to pay with shillings in the bazaar. 50-100 dollars are exchanged for about 2200-2300 shillings at the currency exchange.” (2022)




Zanzibar - Paje - beach vendor - l.z. photo

Zanzibar - Hugo Boss flagship store - k.a. photo

Zanzibar - Stone Town - fruits - l.z. photo

Zanzibar - IKEA - o.i. photo

Zanzibar - shopping - p.b. photo

Fun

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Zanzibar - band - s.k. photo

Zanzibar - musicians - s.k. photo

Health

“One of us got quite sick, with a high fever and diarrhea. One of the hotel employees said that many of their guests get sick because of ice cubes since they don't boil the water for that, so it's worth asking for drinks without ice. It is also worth preparing for an ear infection if you are prone to it, because the water gets in, and the wind constantly blows on the ocean coast

I wholeheartedly recommend a Bolus Astringent tablet, painkillers, sunscreen, after-sun cream, and a straw hat/cap because the sun is very strong from 10 am-3 pm.

In addition, some ten-dollar plastic water shoes from a sports shop also served us very well. Maybe it's worth thinking about bringing your snorkel gear, although we found it everywhere, though not always in the best condition.” (2022)

Others

2022:  Upon arrival, you have to pay the 50 USD/person visa at the airport, which, despite the information of some web sources, can be arranged in cash or by card. However, the ticket office is more manageable because if you pay by card, you have to line up at the end of another line.  

The three necessary documents were handed out on the plane, but I downloaded/filled them out at home. In principle, the entire process can be done online (including the payment), but this makes no sense because there is any way to queue for visa holders who have already completed it online.

Still, practically the same process takes place there as well. What's more, some people didn't take a photo/download the confirmation of payment, and since the wifi wasn't working, they couldn't download it again and were not allowed to continue. Miraculously the wifi suddenly returned, and the problem was finally resolved.

This is Africa!😄 Hakuna Matata!😁

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“Do not lift up starfish, and especially do not take them out of the water. I know it's very fashionable to take selfies with them, and it looks great on the ‘gram, but for them, it's a deadly experience.
First, the bacteria found on the surface of human skin (harmless to us) can be toxic to them.
And second, because they are aquatic creatures, they cannot breathe on land. Fresh air is poisonous to them. If you take them out of the water, they start to drown. For them, it’s like when we fill our lungs with water. So if they are lifted in and out of the water, they either die of suffocation or from the shock to their bodies. Just think how you would feel if you were swimming peacefully and suddenly a starfish pulled you down. Just for one minute. Then for another minute. Or two. And this many times a day.” (Erika, 2022)


Zanzibar - p.b. photo

Zanzibar - Stone Town - coast - l.z. photo

Background

Zanzibar - Nungwi Beach from above - f.v. photo

Destination in brief

Zanzibar is part of Tanzania (East Africa), an island in the Indian Ocean.

Size: 2,461 km²  (950.2 mi²)

Capital city: Zanzibar City (or Zanzibar Town)

Population (in 2020): 705,000

Languages: Swahili (olcally called Kiswahili)

Religions: 98% Muslim (mostly Sunni)

Currency: Tanzanian shilling (TZS)

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 160 USD

Most common surname: Unguja

Stone Town, an ancient city is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Climate

Zanzibar has two rainy seasons: a long and a shot one. The long rainy season lasts roughly from March until May. The short rains mostly take place between November and December, but aren’t nearly as intense—they tend to show up in short and torrential bursts, then quickly fade back to blue skies.

History

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Zanzibar - Stone Town - slave memorial - l.z. photo

Zanzibar - happy smoker - s.k. photo

Nowadays

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Zanzibar - street scene - s.k. photo

Zanzibar - Girls going home after school - l.z. photo

Zanzibar - p.b. photo

People

I have never seen so many even-tempered, happy people like here!❤️

In travel reports from Zanzibar, I have read more than once that poverty is shocking when you leave the hotel. Of course, we knew we weren't traveling to Switzerland, so I wasn't afraid that what we saw would shock us. However, I was looking forward to the first program, where I could experience a bit of how locals live. I could write a novel about the thoughts running through my head in this regard, but I'll try to condense it into a few sentences.
 First of all:
From a European point of view, poverty is enormous. Most of the houses have no windows/doors. Electricity is a luxury, there are no street lights at night, and the villages are plunged into darkness. According to a local guy, there is one main meal a day, and they eat this and that during the day. (I didn't even see a single obese person🤭) The condition of the roads is catastrophic, except for the main roads. In our guide's words, "Zanzibar massage"😁

I could go on and on, but I won't because I'd instead describe what I felt despite all this while driving through the villages and stopping.

The 42-tooth smile on people's faces is unlike, for example, the Thai "save face" smile, which shows even when someone has just died or when an inexperienced tourist is arguing with them. (And, of course, this is not a qualification of Thai culture, which I also love!😊)
That is the genuine Hakuna Matata smile. 😁 They simply enjoy life.
Of course, many people want to do business (also 😁), but after you indicate that you do not need the offered service/service, the smile remains, and they continue to help where and how they can.

In the evening, in the darkened villages, by the light of our passing car, a great bustle and social life arose for a moment. (It was surreal how the driver turned on the spotlight on the seemingly deserted, dark roads, and it turned out that crowds were marching, sitting, and talking by the side of the road. Then the spotlight turned off; darkness returned...😄)
We saw people talking and laughing together in the courtyards, living a social life in small and large groups.

Almost all the people I have met so far have been intelligent, multilingual, good-thinking, likable, apparently balanced, and everyone is working on something. The women collecting seashells or dancing for the tourists, LOcals put out one box to collect some money but there is no strict obligation to pay.

If I were to make a film of the thoughts running through my head, the film would be called "The meeting of the worlds".
And what would be the conclusion of this meeting?
I think three things are indisputable.
- they live in extreme poverty
- they are happy
-their world is sustainable (or at least it seems so)

(Aji, 2022)

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“The diversity of Zanzibar is reflected not only in its natural features but also in the people who live and work there. The kindness, hospitality, and openness captivated us at once.

  The island is not only inhabited by locals. While the locals do play an active role in, among other things, providing tourist services, the owners of the hotels, guest houses, and restaurants on the beaches are mainly foreigners, and a good proportion of the workers have also come from the mainland to take advantage of the island's opportunities.

Here you can also meet members of a very special ethnic group (perhaps the best-known ethnic group in East Africa), who are originally native to the northern part of Tanzania and the southern part of Kenya. They are the Maasai. Thanks to their tall, thin shape, they are easily recognizable. They come to Zanzibar hoping for a better life, and you can meet them almost everywhere on the beaches, where they dress in traditional clothes and offer their goods, including various kinds of handmade jewelry and other items. We found the people we met and talked to extraordinarily nice and did not feel their approach intrusive, even for a moment. However, the locals are offended by the fact that there are Tanzanians dressed as Maasai, who have nothing to do with the tribe, yet who try to ‘sell’ themselves as Maasai. First, they deceive unsuspecting tourists, and second because they present the authentic members of the tribe in a bad light.

With a Maasai Man

On the beach, one often runs into so-called ‘beach boys,’ who try to offer wealthy tourists various services, be that dolphin watching, snorkeling, diving, or any other leisure activity. Opinions about them vary widely, and we have seen good and bad examples.

In Jambiani, for example, there was a handyman named Moody, who, in all his free time, when he was not out in the field, walked a few kilometers to the beach to offer his services. We ran into him in front of our accommodation and started talking. At first, we were quite skeptical because he's the kind of person who talks the pants off people, but in the end, Moody prevailed, and we went with him on a dolphin tour in Kizimkazi. Later that same day, we rented his traditional sailboat to go snorkeling. And we didn't regret any of it. I would absolutely go as far as to recommend him for the organization of any program since, as a Zanzibarian by blood, he knows the area very well (so he can tell many stories), and he’s well-connected.
 
In Nungwi, however, we preferred to avoid those ‘businessmen’ who came mainly from the mainland, who ‘organize’ boat trips and snorkeling, and who sell ‘original’ ebony objects because, as it turns out, they would scam you in the blink of an eye.” (2019)



Zanzibar - lady - l.z. photo

Zanzibar - queuing

Zanzibar - Stone Town

Zanzibar - Nungwi - girls - l.z. photo

Zanzibar- children - s.k. photo

Zanzibar - Nungwi- kids - l.z. photo

Tourist etiquette

1. While in Zanzibar, the tourists should accept and tolerate the unhurried pace in the services. Visitors quickly learn the expression, pole pole, which means, slow down" in Swahili. In a restaurant or a cafe, your ordered drink may arrive in 45 minutes, but being on vacation no sense in becoming nervous. I am not saying it is easy to tolerate Zanzibar's calm chaos, but it's worth it.

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Zanzibar – Tourist Etiquette

“If you want to be generous:

- do it spontaneously, don't look for the opportunity,
- have small things with you – candy, lollipops, chewing gum, balloons,
- keep it in your pocket, don't have a big bag or backpack full of stuff,
- give a gift to one or two separate children... not in a big crowd...
- give one thing at a time, don't let the ‘handing out’ go on all day,
- don't bring chocolate – it will melt,
...if you hand out from a bag, they’ll charge in. One braver child is enough, and the rest follow blindly. One minute and your ‘well intentioned’ act will turn to violence.
...if you distribute in front of many children, the gifts will soon run out, and after a while, they will become quite violent if some get and some don't.
…give them something that is also familiar to them. Plasticine is not a good idea. They eat it.

If you want to go to a village:
- find a local person who is known to the community,
- have small things – candy or chewing gum, or maybe something bigger, like a notebook or a felt-tip pen – I don't think pencils are good, you have to sharpen them, and for that, you need a sharpener, as well as some technique – simple toys, bubble blowers, toy cars, etc...
- you need as many things as the number of children you expect and as your local acquaintance says.

If you would like to support a family:
- find a worthy person. This is easiest among the hotel staff: receptionist, waiter, cleaner, etc...
- days go by, you talk to them, questions come up, family...etc...
- Eventually, they will invite you to visit their family if they also live nearby. And then you can bring a gift, which you can discuss in advance. Sugar, flour, salt, laundry soap, biscuits, etc., from the convenience store...
- In a closer friendship, you can give something more serious. But you have to be smart. Because don't forget: basically – and now I know I'm about to write something divisive and ugly – to them, you're just an ATM. Don't have any doubts about that score. Of course, this attitude may change over time, but initially, there are no exceptions.

If you would like to visit a school:
- DON’T!
- why would you disturb their already rather shaky education?
- you're not Mother Teresa, to surround yourself with dozens of admiring children.
- you can't give everyone the same amount.
- what would you give? Right? Nothing…
If you are adamant and would like to support a school, take a sponge, white chalk, dozens of A4 paper packs, soap, etc... and give them to the head of the school. But all this should, of course, be agreed upon in advance. If they bring you in front of the children and they sing you a song, you've reached your goal.” (2022)



Attractions

Beaches

Zanzibar – Beaches

“About Zanzibar beaches in general

I have an order - it's quite subjective, but talking to others, I’ve slowly confirmed the following about the island’s beaches. It may be helpful, at least as a reference.
I took into account the width of the beach, its cleanliness/seaweed coverage, the quality of the sand, and the popularity of the place:
1.) Paje, Nungwi / Kendwa
2.) Bwejuu
3.) Pwani Michangani, Kilimajuu, Matemwe
4.) Kiwengwa, Jambiani
5.) Dongwe, Pingwe

And the also-rans:
6.) Uroa, Kigomani, Cwaka, Pongwe
7.) Michamwi, Kizimkazi
8.) Stone Town (the beach in front of Tembo, Serena, and Hilton)
That’s it… more or less.”
(2022)
________________________________________

“Why can tides be a problem?
- Do you want to bathe 24 hours a day? What for?! After 15 minutes, you'll be burned to a crisp.
- not interested in the animal life of the receding ocean?
- does it leave you cold when you go to the beach and see it stretching away for long, long kilometers to the right/left?
- do you love uncomfortably overcrowded beaches?
- Looking forward to Nungwi, with its mediocre hotels and mostly Russian and Slovak-speaking guests?
If you answered yes to the previous questions, Nungwi is YOUR place. Kendwa is also similar, only the hotels there are somewhat better.
The tidal phenomenon is a process that repeats itself every 12 hours, which means that the ocean water level goes from low to high, or vice versa, in six hours. But there is also the so-called neap tides, which are when the sun and moon pull in opposite directions at the same time, in which case the ocean remains in one place, sometimes for days, remaining at a state close to high tide.
I can really ‘get’ both Nungwi and Kendwa. The water is beautiful, and tides don’t matter, except for those stretches of coast where, for instance, at high tide, you can't get down to the beach, but there are also a few hotels where you can't approach the water at all. Also, a few words should be mentioned about the fact that the beach in front of the hotels is not private. The locals come in droves, and I've even seen one called the Aman Beach Bung. One person’s stuff got thrown away while he was bathing. Anyway, this is precisely the place where there is also no beach at high tide. But all the same.
And let's not forget that the eastern part of the island’s northern tip: Nungwi and its coast is a really fun place. See, for instance, Essque Zalu Hotel and its surroundings. At high tide, the rocky shore is washed by the water.
I spent a lot of time in Nungwi, many months, but I never really took place to heart. I could write about the village, the people living there, and the hotels. I've been to dozens over the years, from street food to Michelin-star restaurants; I've tried a lot of places...

Which bits do I like?
Paje. Definitely this village and its coast. But why?
- there are tides here, but even so, you can bathe in bright sunshine for 5-6 hours a day,
- if you step out onto the shore at high tide, the sight that will unfold in front of you is like absolutely nowhere else on the island,
- left and right extend long, long kilometers of snow-white, powdery, sugar-like sand, which with its color and texture, beats even the Kendwa/Nungwi duo by a country mile,
- going out at low tide and wandering around, and falling in the small lagoons left behind is a lot of fun.

My subjective ranking is as follows:
- Paje: long, wide beautiful beach
- Jambiani, Bwejuu. The beach is narrower than in Pajé, and not accessible everywhere.
- Pwani Michangani. Open, like Paje, but the beach is narrower, neglected and weedy in several places.
- Kendwa / Nungwi
- Kiwegwa. Only the northern half is good – apart from the millions of Italian-owned hotels – while the southern part is not good because of the village.
- Matemwe. In the part where the villages are, you can get some exciting surprises from the locals in the morning regarding their hygiene, bodily needs, and other things.
- Kizimkazi. Not a bad place, there are one or two good hotels, but the beach just isn’t the real thing.
… that leaves all the other beaches, including the western half of the island, where you also can’t swim much, and the insignificant southern part…
The bottom line: it's by no means certain that the northwestern beaches are the ideal.”
(2022)




Stone Town

“The island's capital is Zanzibar City, and the old town is called Stone Town. The former capital of the Sultanate of Zanzibar, it was once the center of the spice and slave trade.
The heart of Stone town is mostly a maze of narrow alleys lined with bazaars, shops, mosques, and houses.
Most streets are too narrow, so many people use motorcycles in the alleys.
The city appears to accommodate the Christian and Muslim faiths side by side in friendship, which is beautifully depicted in one of my pictures.
Elements of several cultures can be observed in the city's architecture: Arabic, Persian, Indian, African and European. The main building material of the city is stone, from which it got its name, but if you take a closer look, you will immediately realize that it is coral stone. Also the other significant element in the construction is the large wooden doors, with their beautifully etched and riveted yellow copper reliefs. This style could only be afforded by the rich and privileged, so the construction reflects social status in a significant way.
During a city walk, it is also worth visiting the fish, meat, and vegetable markets. And traveling from the harbor to the many smaller islands.
By the way, Stone town is very safe, and almost the entire old town is covered by CCTV cameras so that you can explore the town without any worries.” (2022)



Zanzibar - Stone Town 3 - l.z. photo

Zanzibar - Stone Town 4- l.z. photo

Zanzibar - Stone Town - l.z. photo

Zanzibar - Stone Town - door - l.z. photo

Jozani Forest

Visiting the Jozani forest and the mangrove was our first program.

The Red Colobus monkeys live here in this forest, the only ones in Zanzibar. Well, I can honestly say these were the coolest of all the monkeys in the world that I have seen so far.😍 Their character is amazingly gentle. If the monkey takes something from you, there's a good chance it'll give it back.😄The mother monkey crossed the path with her baby 20 cm from me, then sat down to nurse. I think the famous "Hakuna Matata" way of life originates from them. As our guide said, they don't fight; they eat/drink, sleep and have sex. 🤷‍♀️ Can someone tell me that doesn't sound good!?😄
The jungle would be worth a program with its fine, humid, oxygen-rich air, but the experience with the monkeys makes it an unmissable program. (Aji, 2022)


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