24 Hours in Zanzibar

By 18:11

Mambo! I was in Dar es Salaam for two weeks on business and I thought what better way to spend my weekend than to jet off to the island of Zanzibar. This was the first island I visited by plane and I was terribly disappointed. From the air, this looked a large piece of land – not at all like the little island paradise that I imagined in my head.

Once I got to my hotel though, I forgot all about the business trip I was on back in Tanzania. The air was beautifully warm and humid – even in winter. The beach calm and blue and the sand just beckoned me to spend my day lazing on it. But with only 24 hours in Zanzibar, I had to get a move on.

1. Savour the taste of Zanzibar
I loved the food of Zanzibar. Lunch was a chicken curry chapatti wrap. This is so different from the Indian foods on offer in Dar es Salaam. I can only describe Zanzibari food as mildly-spiced Durban Indian style food.

2. Tour Stone Town
I am fascinated by the history of all cities and countries. I dream the stories of long ago to life and I am amazed to see how that the past has shaped the current state of the land. I definitely recommend a tour of Stone Town, the town that was built from stones by the Omani settlers. It is one of the oldest surviving ancient towns in Africa and as I walked through the town with the original buildings, roads and markets, our tour guide explains how Zanzibar became such a cosmopolitan city with European, Indian, African and Arab roots. It is truly the only country in the world where everyone’s facial and bodily features are unique – no one looks like the race they descended from anymore – they have all been mixed together to create what are the current inhabitants of Zanzibar.

3. Shop at the Stone Town markets
The markets in Stone Town are really for the locals. People come there every day to buy fresh fish, meat and vegetables. There are also market stalls with clothing like kangas, burkas, kurtas, scarves and shawls. Just about everything is for sale – and I much rather prefer shopping on the streets to my usual shopping in a mall. Prices are negotiable so you could come away with a good bargain – much cheaper than the shops at the hotel. I left there with spices that are much cheaper than what you would find in South Africa.

4. Walk through Forodhani Food Market
From the late afternoon, the food market situated on the waterfront comes alive. I was greeted with the sight of all kinds of fishing boats getting ready for another catch. There was seafood cooking on grills – ready to be served. Prawns, crabs, fish just calling you to taste them. There were also vegetables, samosas, drinks... It’s like a culinary paradise.

5. Appreciate the African and Arabian influences
I loved the architectural style of the Arabian arches and intricate details that were on display in most the hotels and older homes. It was also quite refreshing to know that you are in still Africa with animal statuettes as d├ęcor or the flowers and leaf-woven baskets that adorned most places.

6. Watch the sun set
It is an island so leaving without feeling the Indian ocean on your skin, watching the sun set and just relaxing in the warm late afternoon would be a huge injustice. I can’t wait to go back for a proper beach holiday here.

Being Indian, I am no stranger to spices. Most times, I can’t even remember the correct English name for it but I sure know how to use them, grind them, mix them together and cook delicious meals with them. What I didn’t know was how they are grown and harvested and transformed into some of the products we buy at the store. I toured the land where fruits, herbs and spices are grown and got to taste, smell and see exactly where the spices I use every day originate from.

There is so much to do in Zanzibar. I cannot wait to go back with more time to take in all the wonders the island has to offer…and to relax on white sands against crystal blue beaches. 

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