In March 2013 we visited Zanzibar on Mango’s inaugural flight. We were met by many dignitaries who delayed our disembarkation, but sailed through the very basic immigration.
The Island is impoverished, however with a warm Swahili hospitality!
During our 8 day / 7 night adventure we were hosted at the following hotels: Karafuu Hotel & Beach Resort, Ngalawa Beach Village, Royal Zanzibar and Sea Cliff.
Karafuu is located on the East Coast and at the North tip of the Chwaka Bay. Having won many awards over the recent years, this hotel is a basic 3 Star property for South African travellers.
A short walk along the beach from Karafuu is the Rock Restaurant. This amazing seafood speciality restaurant is built on a Rock and depending on the tide; you may walk in and will have to get a dhow to the beach again!
Ngalawa Beach is located on the East Coast, however on the West of the Chwaka Bay, is a small property ideally suited for the quieter holiday makers or a family who prefer to be on their own.
Royal Zanzibar is located on the North slightly to the West of the tip and is an ideal property for families, especially with smaller children. There are a number of activities and the beach is good, with a better tide and not too many sea urchins.
Sea Cliff has amazing views and is stunning when looking out to sea at night, however there is no beach.
An all-inclusive package is a must at any property, for South African travellers. The US Dollar is widely used and thus bottled water or even a cool drink is extremely expensive.
We visited Double Tree by Hilton; this also has a very nice beach and the rooms are well appointed. The drive into the hotel is a bit of a concern through the local village however once you arrive the resort is beautiful.
Gold Zanzibar is a fairly new upmarket property; it is very modern with little or nothing to fault. The lunch was of a great variety tantalizing your taste buds.
Whilst Zanzibar experiences a tropical climate, the best time to visit is during the cooler season from July – October with average temps of 26 degrees. Short rains start in November all the way through to March / April with the average temps of 28 degrees, when the longer rains start.
English is the spoken language with Swahili the traditional one – Jambo Mambo means Hello & how are you?! Karibu Sana means You are very welcome!
The water is extremely warm even in the swimming pools at the hotels. I have never been in the water for such extensive time before and thoroughly enjoyed my leisure time.
Dhows are carved from trees and can survive monsoons even though no nails are used to build them.
Touring Stone Town is a must for those who appreciate ancient architecture.
The Spice Tour is very interesting, tourists visit spice farms and learn a lot about how spices are cultivated.
Safari Blue is a tour for water lovers – you get to sail on an "ngalawa"- a local canoe with outriggers which has been carved from a single mango tree. If you are lucky - you may see humpback and bottlenose dolphins, since the Menai Bay Conservation Area is home to these two species of dolphins.
Lunch is a seafood braai, which is enjoyed on an island and it is extremely scrumptious!
Zanzibar is a beautiful romantic unspoilt Island, if compared to Mauritius; you would be taken back to the 1970’s.