Tanzania Travel Junkie Diary of

Sheena Kay

Saturday, April 20, 2013
Sheena KayLike0

We are super psyched to finally post this one!! Sheena Kay, presenter of The Sheena Show on Radio 1, is from 10am-1pm every weekday on one of the UAE’s top hit radio stations, Radio 1 (104.1/100.5FM or online www.myradio1.ae). This show has become one of the favorites in its time slot as Sheena has created a community of listeners, inviting them to speak with her and participate in the unique concept contests she comes up with. Sheena also catches your attention because of her passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for music and local events, which provides for entertaining and informative programming. Her bubbly personality will definitely brighten up your late mornings and start your afternoons off with a smile. We absolutely LOVE her travel choice!

 

Here is her diary

 

Destination Zanzibar, Tanzania

Stayed at Hilton Doubletree Resort 

My two girlfriends and I planned our 6 day trip to Zanzibar together, and we wanted a balance of serene beach relaxation as well as exploring Stone Town, which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. We began our trip on the north-western coast of the island in a beautiful town called Nungwi. I highly recommend this hotel as the rooms are beautiful, the pool is fantastic and the beach is breathtaking. The staff were also incredibly friendly and welcoming, even from the moment you arrive when they greet you with a delicious home-made chocolate chip cookie and some fresh bungo juice. (Bungo fruit is native to Zanzibar and is sort of a cross between a mango, pineapple and and orange – delicious!) The view from our room was incredible as it overlooked the pool and the white sandy beach that contrasted with the most clear, aquamarine sea I have ever seen. The sea was speckled with old wooden dhow-style fishing boats which added character to the already captivating view.

Month  June

In your suitcase Zanzibar is a tropical island, so needless to say, it was HOT! For the days that we were on the beach, we lived in our bathing suits and sarongs. In the evenings I wore simple beach dresses and no make up as it was hot and humid! In Stone Town itself, we dressed a little more conservative as it is an Islamic culture, but again we wore flip flops and casual light clothing during the day. Running shoes are advisable if you plan to walk through the markets, and I’d recommend taking a hat as well because the sun can get quite fierce.

Dined at Being a coastal town, Zanzibar offers a vast selection of fresh seafood, often cooked in traditional curries and spices. The food was absolutely delicious in each and every restaurant – whether it was a fancy one in a hotel or a small cafe on the street. By far the most memorable food experience in Zanzibar was Forodhani. My mouth is watering even now as I remember the freshly cooked street food. As this was mainly a chill out and explore holiday rather than a party holiday, we did not actually check out any clubs per say. We did go to a random bar one night that was recommended by some guy we met on the street during the day. It was beautiful and modern and full of tourists so we didn’t stay long because we wanted something more authentic.

Shopped There are SO many shops and stalls in the market in Stone Town that we spent two full days perusing through the cute alleyways, buying everything from jewelry to clothing to wooden carved animal figurines. Many people also recommended buying tanzanite gemstones from Zanzibar, but I found them to still be expensive. My biggest purchase from this trip was a gold necklace and pendant with the shape of Africa on it. It’s my most favourite piece of jewelry that I own.

Diary After enjoying a day in bliss, we were approached by some local Zanzibari boys on the beach, asking us if we’d like to do a boat cruise for sunset. Although we were hesitant at first, other guests at the hotel said they had gone and loved it so we decided to go for it. What an amazing experience that was. We sailed around the northern tip of Zanzibar in an old wooden fishing boat with these crazy beach boys who were singing and playing drums and dancing on the boat. We even took a dip in the sea just before the sun went down. That was one experience that I know I will never forget as it uplifted my soul. The next few days in Nungwi were spent lazing around the pool, going for walks on the beach, getting massages and soaking up the sun. On our way to Stone Town, we decided to do a Spice Tour seeing as Zanzibar is known as the spice island. It was fascinating to see (and smell) all the delicious spices that grow on the island and how they cultivate them into export products. Our guide showed us each plant and spice and explained the use and benefits and all 3 of us went a little crazy at the end, buying more spices than we will likely ever use, but I guess our guide was a good sales person! Finally, we arrived in Stone Town and I fell in love. I have this thing for old, wooden Omani-style doors, and since Zanzibar used to be the remote capital city of Oman in the 1830s, much of its architecture and culture is Arab-influenced. The ancient city is run down and unkempt, but I had never seen a city with so much character. We checked in to the Africa House Hotel – which had apparently lost its charm after a change in management a few years earlier. After staying in the Doubletree in Nungwi, this was definitely a downgrade, but the location in the heart of the town was perfect, and the hotel had a rooftop terrace bar which even served shisha!  There are loads of historical sites and buildings to see in Stone Town, but my two favourite parts of it were the Darajani Market (where we spent our days wandering through the bazaar buying gifts, beautiful African art, clothing and trinkets) and Forodhani Park. Forodhani Park comes to life after sunset, when the entire town gathers each night and indulges in delicious East African treats like Mandazi, grilled seafood, cassava and other treats sold at the many food stalls set up across the park. One ‘must have’ at Forodhani is something called “mix”. I don’t know exactly what’s in it but it’s like a soup with potatoes and onions and corn and loads of other random ingredients, which come together and taste incredible. From Stone Town it is possible to take day trips to the nearby small islands like Turtle Island and Prison Island. Turtle Island is home to a turtle sanctuary where you can see massive turtles – some of which are more than 100 years old! Prison Island is beautiful and peaceful and houses an old prison that is no longer used. I had my first ever snorkeling experience just off Prison Island and was amazed to see thousands of vibrant colours floating just beneath the crystal surface of the water. We saw angel fish, star fish, and many other exotic creatures. I even found Nemo!

Tips East Africa is incredibly beautiful and the Zanzibari people are extremely friendly and I felt very safe there, however I don’t recommend taking any expensive jewelry or valuables with you to East Africa. Especially when stopping in big cities like Nairobi, it can be dangerous. Also, don’t forget to get your Yellow Fever vaccination prior to your trip. They ask you for your vaccination certificate as you land in the airport. Keep some US cash on you as you enter as well because you have to pay for the visa upon landing (depending on your nationality, of course).  Zanzibar is fairly inexpensive however with growing tourism, the shopkeepers have learned to hike the prices up tremendously when they see foreigners enter their stores. Bargain with them – they will most likely reduce the price significantly – sometimes even by 50%!

Mode of travel There is no direct flight from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Zanzibar, so I decided to stop in Nairobi first and visit my family there. I flew Emirates to Nairobi and then from Nairobi to Zanzibar I flew Precision Air. The plane was teeny tiny and we flew right over Mount Kilimanjaro so that flight itself was an experience to remember! The girls flew from Dubai to Zanzibar on Oman Air with a stopover in Muscat. You can also fly to Dar Es Salaam and take a ferry to Zanzibar.

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