Recently we have been to Zanzibar island, Tanzania. We went there for the election period in Kenya and spent there a week full of adventures and new discoveries. Zanzibar was absolutely new experience for us. It was the first time for us living on the island.
The fly from Nairobi to Zanzibar is about 1.5 hour. That is why we arrived there fresh and full of energy. One good thing about the flight that we flew near Kilimanjaro mountain, which is considered to be the symbol of Tanzania. And it is the most beautiful way of welcoming its tourists, I would say.
Zanzibar is the semi-autonomous part of the Tanzania, in East Africa. The capital of Zanzibar is Zanzibar City. Stone Town is the historic center of the capital. Stone Town is a UNESCO World heritage site and is claimed to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. Its architecture mostly dating back to the 19th century, reflects the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture, with a unique mixture of Arab (Omani), Persian, Indian and European elements. People in Zanzibar speak Kiswahili language, they practice Islam, live in towns, constructed by Europeans and decorated by Persian and Indian elements.
From the airport to the Stone Town we took a taxi that costs 6$. Of course, taxi drivers asks for more, they have even printed price lists in the frames with much higher prices. What we did, was just that we told them that our friend took the taxi to the same destination a week ago for 6-7$.
Bargaining is very popular in Zanzibar. So never consent to the firs said price. "What-is-your-best-price" question would be always appropriate.
After 10-minutes drive we arrived in our hotel. This time we stayed in Maru Maru hotel. We liked it very much. And we would definitely recommend it to everybody willing to stay somewhere in Stone Town. This hotel had very nice service, room cleaning was provided twice every day, they have splendid Zanzibar decor and at the same time it is very modern and up-to-date.
Being absolutely satisfied with our hotel, we started discovering Stone Town. This place has many to offer for its visitors. It has its own spirit and rhythm of life, its own architecture and decor.
The main peculiarity of Zanzibar style decor are Zanzibar doors. When a house was built in Zanzibar, the door was traditionally the first part to be erected. The greater the wealth and social position of the owner of the house, the larger and more elaborately carved his front door. This traditions is still alive today, and rich Arab people from Persian Gulf countries still place orders for Zanzibar doors.
By the way, we also decided to have our doors in Zanzibar made:)
Just another example of Zanzibar interior design in Tembo hotel.
My personal opinion, is that the most interesting place in each country is a market. In Kenya we are not used to go to markets, but in Zanzibar we felt absolutely secure and comfortable.
It is not recommended to swim in Stone Town, however locals do it all the time. We did not swim there, as almost every day we had an excursion which included swimming and snorkeling near the islands or far from Stone Tone. Anyway, beaches in Stone Town are magnificent and are not to miss.
Stone Town has many attractions, and one of the most distinguishing is Forodhani gardens, especially after the sunset. Forodhani Gardens are situated near Old fort and the House of Wonders. If you sty in the same hotel we stayed, it would be a two-minute walk.
The Gardens are especially crowded after sunset and on weekends, when tourists and local gather in this popular food street market to have dinner eating Swahili and Zanzibari cuisine delicacies such as grilled seafood, samoosas, Zanzibar pizza. Sugar cane juice is also not to miss.
If you come to Stone Town, you should definitely go to a restaurant for the sun set "show". This is one of the most romantic sight that we saw in our lives. There are couple of such restaurants with the best location. One of them is on top of Maru Maru hotel, the second, that we have visited is Tower Top Restaurant, which is on the top of 236 Hurumzi Hotel.