Ohh Zanzibar, you have my heart!
Step right off the plane and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another point in time! Being from a coastal town I really didn’t have much expectations, after all, the culture was still a fusion of Arabic and Swahili. 🧐🤷🏽♀️
After an hours ride from the airport, we arrived at Stone town where narrow meandering streets prevented cars from passing through, the rest of the way we went on foot and I was immediately mesmerized.
Streets were filled with tourists taking photos outside ancient wooden curved doors, whatever little space left was occupied by an art gallery or curio shop. Unlike the tourist scene in Mombasa or Masaai Market Nairobi, the merchants here didn’t nag you to purchase their goods, which I loved. They would actually allow you to try stuff on, take pictures and come back later if interested. 🥰💃🏽
The first two days of the trip were spent in Stone Town, and here is what we were up to…
Lunch at the famous Lukman’s Restaurant
This has to be among one of the most famous and frequented eateries in Stone Town. It’s a modest walk in kind of space with benches where patrons can sit and have their meals. Don’t expect any five star treatment as the waiters and staff are really overwhelmed, the place gets busy over lunch hour. What attracted me most was the seafood which was being freshly prepared there and then after you placed an order.
They serve Swahili cuisine, so dishes like pilau, chapati and biryani are their specialty. For the seafood lovers they had an assortment of calamari, octopus, prawns and sword fish.
Definitely a place with value for money 💰.
Prison Island tour
The British First Minister of Zanzibar, Lloyd Mathews, purchased the island in 1893 intending for it to be a prison complex. No prisoners were ever housed on the island and instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever cases.
The only way to get to the island is by boat, there are a number of tour companies that offer this service at competitive prices. It’s about an hours ride from Stone Town, which seemed like an eternity for someone with motion sickness like myself 😷be sure to be prepared mentally as there’s nothing but ocean for a good chunk of time.
After the tour there’s an option of snorkeling, depending on the Captains timeline and fellow tourists requests.
The main attraction on the island are the Aldabra tortoise, which were a gift from the British governor of Seychelles in 1919 from the island of Aldabra.
It costs about 3$ to enter the tortoise sanctuary and about 20$ -30$ per person for the boat ride to the island.
Watch the sunset at the Tembo hotel terrace
Eat out at Forodhani
In all honesty the food at Forodhani was overpriced and underwhelming. Compared to eateries like Lukman’s, it’s not worth the coins.
Visit an art gallery & learn about the different architectural doors
Stone Town slave tour
This museum is in an Anglican church building which had been built partly over the dungeons where the slaves were kept before they were sold to various buyers. The dungeons can be viewed by going down stone steps. The dungeons roofs are very low so one cannot stand upright in them. There are just one small window in each dungeon and the slaves were crammed in there.
Hopefully when you’re planning to visit Zanzibar these tips will come in handy. It’s an ideally affordable destination in terms of tours and food. There are also a number of places to party, for those interested in the night life.
Ps. Always compare prices before booking tours or purchasing souvenirs, you just might find yourself getting a ‘special ‘ rate 😅 which basically means you’ve been duped.
Love & Love