Thursday, September 25, 2014

Zanzibar



This was not the airplane that flew us from Kogatende Airstrip in the Serengeti to Zanzibar (ZNZ). I just thought it interesting to see the pilot unloading the seats from one plane and moving them to another. He was going back and forth a few times loading and unloading the seats. Ours was a 12 seater Coastal Aviation flight. Took 5 hours to reach Zanzibar with stops in Lake Manyara and Arusha. We left our campsite at 6 am and were at the airstrip by 7:45am for the 9:45am flight because our driver thought our flight might be early. Well, the flight was delayed for an hour. The airstrip had no waiting lounge so we just stood around in the field waiting for a pilot who's willing to take us. Asked at least 5 pilots and each one said we were not on their passenger lists. Finally, our pilot came and said he could take us to Arusha then someone else would take over our flight to ZNZ. But, once in Arusha, it turned out that he'd be taking us all the way to ZNZ afterall. Even though it was a small plane, the ride was smooth and  the views from the sky was spectacular.


Butterfly larvae from the Butterfly Farm. A small cooperative that helps to boost the livelihood of local farmers. Too bad that the day we were visitng, it was pouring down hard. Was not able to take pictures of the beautiful butterflies in the outdoor farm.


The Rock Restaurant- average Italian style seafood fare, reservations a must. Come here for the stunning ocean view and walk barefooted in the clean, soft white sand.

Outdoor seating area for the restaurant. Nice to be here at noon to see the different shades of blue seawater. Closer to the beach are seaweed farms but further out, I see people snorkelling in the water and a couple of fishermen diving for octopus. Happy local kids nearby singing and goofing around.





Paid a small entrance fees to the Mtoni Ruins. Interesting palace where the famous Princess Salme was born. We had lunch next door at the Mtoni Marine Hotel- good western style food at their ocean view restaurant.


Narrow alleyways of Stone Town. Great for strolling and window shopping. Of course, street peddlers were everywhere but they didn't bother us too much when we said, "no, thanks" to whatever they're trying to sell.

 

 
Dhow boat
Hookahs at the Africa House. Came here for afternoon snacks and views of the Zanzibar coast on its second floor balcony cafe.
Mercury House 



Forodhani Beach- busy and crowded. We were there during the Eid-Ul-Fitr holiday. Seems like the whole town came out to celebrate the end of the Ramadan fasting month.
 
 Fishermen working on their boats on the beach next to the Next Paradise Resort.
 
Next Paradise Boutique Resort- was looking forward to a relaxing stay here after our safari trip due to the rave reviews online. On arrival, the resort downgraded our booking to 2 of their worst standard rooms. The "manager" on duty at check in was not helpful at all. Her attitude was take it or leave it- "resort fully booked" was her excuse. As we were tired from the flight plus the 2 1/2 hours of self driving from the airport to the resort, we decided to stay for the night. For some reason, both rooms had strong
 moldy smell upon entering. The swarms of mosquitoes in the rooms and dining area were just unbearable. We were not bitten once by mosquitoes during our safari trip but here we were eaten alive. Had to spray the rooms with mosquito repellant ourselves before bed. Water heater stopped working in one of the rooms, so cold water it is in that room. Noisy air-conditioner and fridge made for one sleepless night. Beach in front of hotel was alright, but keep in mind it is a working beach as fishing villages lined up the shore to the left and right of the resort. Interesting mix of goats and poultry on the beach with unsightly rundown houses next to the resort. Its location was difficult to find as it was tucked away from the main road. We drove up and down the main road for an hour before we found the side street to turn into the resort. Asked for directions from a few locals but nobody seemed to know where the exact location was. Not a single sign was posted for the resort. Food in their restaurant was on the salty side, too. We booked for 3 nights but left after one as staying any longer would be too uncomfortable. The lady "owner" (not the "manager" from previous day) was understanding enough at check out that she decided to refund our payment. We needed to make the best of our last 2 days in Africa. Of all the years we've been travelling, this was the first time we had to look for another hotel during a trip.
 
 Our oceanview beach villa at the Planhotel- peaceful, quiet and no mosquitoes. What a miracle. I guess it had something to do with the workers constantly cleaning and grooming the surrounding areas. Was able to finally relax and laze around doing nothing much.
                                            Decent buffet spread, enjoyed their Indian dishes.
Long stretch of clean, walkable beach in front of the Planhotel with Masai guards warding off the beach hustlers.
 We usually do not like to stay at all-inclusives but Simona, the reservationist was so kind, accomodating and made an offer we couldn't refuse that we decided to give it a try. She made sure we were comfortable with our villas from check in till check out. We were grateful for that. The rest of the staff were courteous and friendly as well. Our one bedroom villas were clean, spacious and comfortable. Huge bathroom with two great rain shower heads. King size bed was nice to sleep in until the sun rises as the curtains do not block out the sun glare. I believe all the rooms had partial or full ocean view as they were situated facing the sea on a slope down to the ones on the beach. Loved its large common areas for lounging around and enjoying the sea breeze. Since it is an all inclusive, nightly entertainment is a must. First night was an acrobatic troupe performing their art, and the next night we had dinner by the pool with a live band. All enjoyable but once in our villas, it's all peace and quiet. I couldn't be more thankful.


 

 

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