Travel Daydream: Zanzibar

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I’m not gonna cook it, but I’ll order it from ZANZIBAR!

Up until a few weeks ago, Zanzibar was what I assumed was a restaurant referred to in Tenacious D’s romantic power ballad, F*ck Her Gently. Aside from being the song I try to get every woman I date let be ‘our song’, it’s also one of my karaoke mainstays.

The more you know.

Anyway, this is a particularly exciting Travel Daydream for me because it is actually going to happen! Of the seven travel daydreams I’ve previously shared with you, I’ve managed to fulfill none of them (although I have been to New Zealand and Las Vegas in the past). This one? It’s 100% going to happen. My flights to Tanzania by way of Kenya are booked, and I’ll be ending November chasing wildebeest, spotting lions lolling in the sun, and sipping ice cold fruit juice poolside in Zanzibar.

I’m very excited to be staying at the Chwaka Bay Resort while I’m on the island, with a one night stopover in Stone Town to take in the sights of this former spice and slave trading post.

Below are just a few things I’m looking forward to doing in my 4-5 days on Zanzibar.

Chill on the Beach

After a week’s safari through the Serengeti and having endured the tail end of the Aussie winter, I’ll be long overdue some me time on the beach with a book, a drink, and nothing to do but soak it all in.

How's the serenity? Photo by jbobo7
How’s the serenity? Photo by jbobo7

The one thing I didn’t do enough of in the Philippines was soak in the peace and quiet, so you’d best believe that it’s high on the agenda for my visit to Tanzania’s slice of paradise.

Zanzibar is famous for its beaches, and while Chwaka Bay isn’t quite as famous as Nungwi or Kendwa, I’m looking forward to working on my tan and spending some quality time with a few books.

Scuba Dive in Africa

One of my bucket list items is to scuba dive on every continent. After learning to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef in 2010 and doing a dive in Fiji in early 2011, I waited another three years before I scuba dived in Asia while visiting El Nido. To check off a second continent in the same year would leave me with just Europe, North America, and South America to go.

Not that we do these things to check them off lists. I’ve found few things in life to be quite as relaxing as scuba diving, and once I get by the sometimes frustrating task of equalising, I’m blissful hovering above the reef and just savouring the near silence.

There are a number of scuba dive centres on the island, so it’s a matter of shopping around and finding one that makes you most comfortable.

Explore Stone Town

Stone Town is a town steeped in history, particularly that showing the darker side of British colonialism. Stone Town is a former spice and slave trade centre, and it’s possible to explore this element of its history and forget that it existed before the British came into town. The UNESCO World Heritage site has also been the seat to the Sultanate of Oman during its history, and today boasts a remarkably diverse architectural style featuring elements of Arabic, Indian, East African, British, and Persian design.

The rooftops of Stone Town. Photo by Kyle Taylor.
The rooftops of Stone Town. Photo by Kyle Taylor.

Over Yonderlust highlights a number of things to do in Stone Town on a backpacker budget including the open air splendour of the Darjani Market and historic sites such as the old Slave Market and the ostentatiously named House of Wonders.

It’s also interesting to note that Freddie Mercury of Queen fame was born in Zanzibar, and there is a restaurant there full of Queen memorabilia that I’d love to check out.

Eat delicious food

If you’ve seen me, you know that I’m a guy who enjoys his food. One of the best things about exploring a new country and its culture is taking in its various culinary treasures. Having had little or no real experience with Tanzanian (or even East African) cuisine in the past, I’m excited to see what Tanzania has to offer.

A vendor at Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town. Photo by David Berkowitz.
A vendor at Forodhani Gardens in Stone Town. Photo by David Berkowitz.

Much like its architecture has been influenced by its cosmopolitan history, so to has Zanzibar’s cuisine been shaped by these influences. Contemporary Zanzibari cuisine is an intriguing blend of Portuguese, British, Bantu, Arab, Indian, and other influences, coming together to create something unique to the island.

Visit Prison Island

Located a short boat ride from Stone Town, Prison Island is a former slave prison and place of exile for diseased people, but belies its dark past by today being a popular place for tourists to come and see a native population of Aldabra giant tortoises.

Having never seen a giant tortoise before, I must admit I’m intrigued to take in the crumbling architecture and see some of these creatures who are among the most ancient species to still walk the earth.

Can You Tell I’m Excited?

It’s a shade over two months until I board a plane in Sydney and arrive in Tanzania some two days later, but I’m already very excited. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever make it to Africa, and I definitely didn’t think I’d get to witness the wonder of the Great Migration that almost 2 million wildebeest take each year across the Serengeti.

Zanzibar is the icing on the cake for me – spending a few days relaxing and unwinding in paradise will be my birthday present to myself, although I don’t turn the big 3-1 until I touch down in Sydney on December 2nd.

Looking for Inspiration?

This isn’t my first travel daydream. Check out the below articles for a little more travel inspiration for your working week.

Your Say

Have you ever been to Zanzibar? I’d love to hear about your favourite spots, dishes, or experiences from the island.

Featured photo by David Berkowitz, who is not the Son of Sam. Follow him on Twitter at @dberkowitz

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