As I embarked on my valentine experience travel to Zanzibar, one of the first few things that registered was the Kenya airways plane. A 6 hour international bound flight had no personal tv screens; there were about 7 general tv screens allocated to about 20 seats each. I said to my boyfriend sat beside me ‘watch, the plane from Nairobi to Zanzibar would be nicer with individual tv screens’ needless to say it happened exactly as I predicted.
All in all check in was smooth, take off was according to schedule. Landing in Zanzibar asides from getting assaulted by mosquitoes, getting our visa and clearance into Zanzibar was easy, quick and smooth.
I am not recounting my travel experience to highlight the very few glitches.. I’m a firm believer in making the most of every moment and experience. Trouper that I am, not even having to take a spot on a couch in the lobby of our hotel waiting to be checked in as our flight got in about 2am and check in time didn’t start until 11am or the just okay food experience in the coming days dispelled that belief.
Now, I am very much the solo traveller type and for the first time I travelled with someone really special and his friends, it was magical so no complaints… still, if I was by myself I would have probably headed straight to a club; I travel prepared.
I like to travel to my destination light, I’m talking hand luggage light so I can just hop on a train and head to my living space, in this case get on the Tanzanian dala dala and head to a club to get straight into the vibe of the city, however on this occasion I was traveling with a sour group… kidding… so I had to be considerate, everyone else was tired so we just made ourselves comfortable in the lobby waiting for check in time and after a few hours, ‘the good guy’ in the lobby had mercy on us and let us check in early.
Be sure to make a mental note of your arrival time against your hotels check in time. We got into Zanzibar at 2am so I couldn’t see much of the town and didn’t know what to expect.
Next morning, I got up early, everyone else was still sleeping, I was aching to get out and explore the town… I pretty much planned our trip itinerary, two nights in Stone Town so we could walk about and get a feel of the architecture and history of zanzibar and two nights on the beach in matemwe to get our water fix, rest and laze on the beach.
I had also hoped to get my safari fix but I was sad to learn that the safaris were in mainland Tanzania. In Stone Town we got a tour guide at the hotel to take us through the noteworthy sights. I have never been the touristy traveller type, I am more an explorer so I can’t tell you I paid attention, I am quite the cultural traveller so i like to make my own experiences, explore and see any new place I go from my eyes and from chatting with the locals, for an accurate history, you can head on to google, for my own experience stay latched on..
I’m an arts and architecture enthusiast so I fell in love almost immediately with this city built from coral stones as the name suggests and its whitewashed, earthy tones. If you are an art enthusiast then this city is for you, there are a lot of dainty lined shops on narrow laned streets filled with beautiful local and handmade african arts and artifacts made from materials like leather, metal, wood.
If architecture interests you, again this old town that was once the centre for spice trade and slave trade would interest you. It wasn’t uncommon to see vespas on the narrow laned streets as cars could barely pass through, very reminiscent of noteworthy architectural European civilizations like Rome, Lisbon, Barcelona and one time after walking about for a bit we discovered a gelateria and sat down to have some gelato by the beach which felt very Italian.
Also I could feel a lot of Arab influences especially in the decors and the use of the dhow (an Arab boat) for sailing in the Indian Ocean. Another thing that fascinated me about Stone Town were the doors, looming in all its glory as you approach it, beautiful in its own unique way, old yet sturdy doors, standing the test of time; so full of character and left you wondering what was on the other side.
There was a lot of natural aging on the buildings and even though a lot of the buildings had been renovated to modern standards it was done in such a way that they didn’t lose their historical appeal.
The next day we sailed to prison island with our tour guide. I learned that prison island was never used as an actual prison but as a quarantine for recovering yellow fever patients. I met the endangered Aldabra tortoises and ran away from the peacocks. We met a lovely French couple who had moved to Zanzibar to do some missions work, such a selfless act..
The rest of the trip I spent discovering prison island which had now been converted to a tourist resort on my own. I came across ruins that had been deliberately preserved and buildings that had a strange colour that somehow transported me from the present to the 1860’s and I tried to create a mental image of the people who lived there, how they lived, what they wore, ate… a pat on my back from the tour guide broke my reverie, it was time for us to head back to Stone Town.
After two days of discovering and learning about the history of Stone Island we set out for another two days on the beach. The men were excited as they could finally get on with their water activities. I was happy to lay on the beach and get on with my novel and do some reading.
Alas! The men had a surprise coming. The other couple was getting hitched! This was one of the high points of my trip. We had gone to a valentine eve party in Kendwa. They had everything planned out. The dj had been informed and about two hours into the party we heard an announcement over the PA congratulating a Nigerian couple who were getting engaged, then he got on his knees in the midst of a huge crowd with all the focus on them and asked her to marry him! She was so stunned she almost forgot to collect her ring.
It was such a beautiful proposal and everyone was so excited for them, the partying continued in earnest as it had become a real celebration.The rest of the night went by in a blur and then it was time for us to make the journey back to our hotel in matemwe.
I would advice that if you are not traveling to be by yourself for a quiet retreat Kendwa is a better option for more fun filled activities like water sports e.g parasailing, jet skiing, restaurants and the night life generally.
The next day was water sports day. We couldn’t find any proper water sports activities around matemwe so we had to head to Kendwa for another 30usd to and fro; do not hesitate to ask the cabs to wait for you, the good thing about cabs in Zanzibar is that they don’t mind waiting with you the whole day to be done with your activities and then take you back to your hotel. In kendwa we found all the water activities we wanted.
The Indian Ocean which surrounds the island of Zanzibar is the calmest water I have seen with subtle waves and shallow shores for miles. It is perfect for water sports and I had hoped to live my parasailing dreams here unfortunately parasailing wasn’t available the whole day.
On the beach I got talking and took pictures with a Maasai group. From them I learnt that they don’t need the service of the police as they are responsible for securing the area and they do a great job of it. They sleep very lightly and their well trained ears pick up the slightest sounds so you can be assured of your safety around the beach even at night.
Also the Zanzibaris are accommodating, easy going and good natured people. At night I lay on the beach taking in the fresh breeze, waves from the Indian Ocean making music ever so gently and the uncountable stars that lit the night ever so lightly.
I don’t remember the last time I saw so many stars in the sky since Tulum and it was a subtle reminder about the importance of taking occasional breaks from the noise, pollution and madness of the city to recoup and revel in the beauty and simple pleasures of nature. It felt like just as we were about to settle down it was time to pack up and leave. Zanzibar left me enamoured and aching for more.
Related Article: Honeymoon Experience in Stone Town Zanzibar, Tanzania.
This is such a beautiful valentine experience of Zanzibar, written by Tosin Ashaye of Tatase Lagos. She got inspired by the article written by Bukky Asehinde on her Honeymoon Experience in Stone Town Zanzibar.
So many African Destinations to explore. So glad travellers like Tatase Lagos are ready to explore.
Share your valentine experience, honeymoon experience, holiday experience in African destinations with us.
Tatase is also a fashion, art and culture curator with a vision of donning more and more women in Nigeria and abroad in wearable art pieces using beautiful textures against fabrics and appliqué sourced both locally and internationally to achieve a subtle yet fashionable and elegant look and support the awakening of made in Nigeria products whilst focusing on quality.
She is also a partner at Ivada Survey. Ivada Survey is Nigeria’s first paid online survey platform that seeks to improve made in Nigeria products through feedback from consumers.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.