This past weekend we travelled by Azam Marine fast ferry to Zanzibar, a nice sized island about 80km away from Dar es Salaam. The ferry is a 2 minute walk from our apartment which is super convenient. We left Dar at 7:00AM on Saturday morning and took the 3:30PM ferry home, we were heavily warned about the returning evening ferry for being extremely rocky with passengers vomiting all over the cabin. We thought sitting in Business Class ($40) would prevent us from witnessing the "vomit fest" instead of sitting in the Economy Class ($35). I normally don't get seasick but I took a Dramamine on the returning ferry just in case and I was fine! It probably helped that I focused on watching 3 episodes of Dear White People and a portion of Southside with You - Thank goodness for Netflix's downloadable content! Luckily, we did not witness said "vomit fest". It took us ~2 hours to get to and from Zanzibar. If get seasick, I would suggest you take the earliest ferries instead of the evenings ones. If you would like to leave in the evening like we did, there is also an option to fly back to Dar es Salaam for ~$50 to $60 one way.
Compared to Dar es Salaam, nearly 100% of the Zanzibar population is Muslim; it was a great learning experience to be there for the first few days of Ramadan. Therefore, you have to be really mindful about how you dress. I was told to dress conservatively while I'm in Tanzania but in Zanzibar specifically, its taken much more seriously. So if you wondered by I'm always wearing long sleeved maxi dressed, scarves and long pants that is why.
Day 1: Stone Town, Zanzibar
After arriving in Zanzibar around 9:00AM we went straight to our hostel. We stayed with Jambo Guest House, I'd definitely recommend it if you're in the area. The rooms generally run for pretty reasonable. I shared a triple with Stacey and Taylor, we paid about $22 per person per night. Tip: If you plan to stay here if your significant other you will be required to present a marriage license. Otherwise, you'll have to get separate bedrooms.
We spent the entire day exploring Stone Town on our town, despite being pestered and followed for a guided tour. Once you get past the hungry tour guides it is truly a wonderful place. The town is definitely representative of its name. (You'll have to view the pictures below to see what I mean). I reminded be of a labyrinth, with high walls and narrow cobbled walkways - think Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wind ;). It's pretty easy to get lost here but we found out way. It was kind of scary at night and I don't think there's a way to taxi around because it's too narrow for cars but maybe next time I will try a Bajaji? (explained in previous post). There is so much to do and see there - we visited the Slave Market for 10,000 TSH (~$5), the Hamamni Persian Baths for 2,000 TSH ($1), the Sultan's Palace Museum (Beit al-Sahel) for 6,000 TSH ($3), a variety of shops for souvenirs and antiques, and saw the beautiful #DoorsofZanzibar. I would definitely come back to see the attractions we missed as the House of Wonders (a portion of it recently clasped so it is under construction). I can't wait to bring my mom here when she visits next month!!
Day 2: Spice Tour & Beach
Sunday morning around 6:00AM we were greeted with super heavy rains, which lasted for almost 2 hours but thankfully we were able to enjoy the rest of the day with very little rain. We went on a Spice Tour hosted by the hostel we stayed with at 9:15AM. The Spice Tour included a ~2 hour hike through the plantations and sampling of a ton of fruits, herbs and spices, lunch made with fresh vegetables and rice nicely seasoned with the local spices, and a trip to the beach. All for $15!
During the tour, we tried countless fruits and spices. We also learned about their purposes, origin, and history. We tasted/smelled/saw fresh clove, starfruit, lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, cocoa, avocado, pomelo (grapefruit), nutmeg, peppercorn, and cinnamon straight from the Earth (featured in pictures below)! Midway through the tour, we were able to purchase handmade soups and oils produced from the plants we learned about during the tour. I bought 2 bottles of coconut oils, and 4 bars of vanilla, lemongrass, turmeric, and langi langi soap for 20,000 TSH (~$10). At the end of the tour, we shopped from the infamous Spice Market! I purchased a ton of spices, such as cinnamon sticks, pilau masala, curry, ginger, cloves, and turmeric along with a variety of teas and coffees flavored with banana, peppermint, ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon all for 30,000 TSH ($15)! We had lunch at a nearby home then spent some time at a beach for about 30 minutes away then took the ferry back to Dar!