Zanzibar - What to do & see?

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Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby AdamfromCanada » Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:11 pm

So in May, my wife & I are spending five days in Zanzibar. Initially, we looked at booking this:

http://www.gadventures.com/trips/zanzibar-discovery/TDTZDN/2012/

But I've spoken to a few people who've been over the past few months and they have suggested you don't need a guide and it might be nice to have a more flexible itinerary, so that if we want a relaxing day at the beach where we don't do anything, we can just do that. Doing the planning myself, I also have a little more control over where we stay.

Still, I think it's good to hear about other people's experiences. What did you do when you were in Zanzibar? Anything you'd recommend? Anything you wouldn't do if you had it to do over? Where did you stay?

Thanks for any input!
Feel free to check out my travels on http://www.adammallonphotography.com
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Re: Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby tletter » Fri Dec 30, 2011 9:16 am

AdamfromCanada wrote:Anything you'd recommend?

Stay a couple of days in Stone Town; visit a spice farm; and take a beach break.

AdamfromCanada wrote:Anything you wouldn't do if you had it to do over?

Snorkeling on reef off Amaan Bungalow Resort was marginal.

AdamfromCanada wrote:Where did you stay?

Amaan Bungalow Resort at Nungwi.

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Re: Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby thevinnie » Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:32 pm

The Gap tour you reference shows you the best parts of the island. You need a hotel in Stone Town for at least one night. You can do a walking tour of the old part of the town on your own. You can also rent a bike for a bit to see the newer parts of the town. The Gap tour then goes to a spice farm on the way to the north end of the island and the beaches (there are no useable beaches in or close to Stone Town). The Gap tour only misses a small forest area in the south east of the country.
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Re: Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby francine_16 » Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:14 am

I did Zanzibar as part of the Tanzania Encompassed tour. However, I think you can arrange it on your own. Really they were just booking the hotel and transportation to and from Stone Town to the beach. I think you could arrange all that on your own.
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Re: Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby markmol » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:55 am

hi,
getting lost in the winding alleys of stone town is a great way to spend an afternoon, then on to Africa house for a cocktail to watch the sunset, then off to the night market for some fresh seafood & a Zanzibar pizza. Or just go to the beaches in the north & relax :D
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
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Re: Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby ballu » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:23 pm

I liked the snorkeling...but it's not I've really had the chance to do before so I can't really compare it to other snorkel experiences.
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Re: Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby ExplorerWannaBe » Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:28 pm

Scuba diving from Amaan was decent. I've snorkeled coral reefs in Hawaii so am used to a good variety of fish but I did like the different experience there -- especially the night dive. There are two scuba shop operations, one inside Amaan Bungalows itself and one out on the beach. The African dive master at the Amaan Bungalow operation was excellent but be careful of the white shop owner; he was a little footloose and fancy-free for my tastes -- I'm not entirely convinced he hadn't drunk or smoked something he shouldn't have before diving.
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Re: Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby bexonthebeach » Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:07 am

I spent a week in Zanzibar on my own recently, then joined the Zanzibar to Nairobi trip with G.

I would definitely spend a day in Stonetown, walking among the old buildings and eating the yummy cuisine. I did it on my own after a lot of research, but a couple of ppl on my trip did a walking tour to learn more about the history and they found it very informative.

A popular trip is to do a 'blue safari' - a day long snorkelling trip in a traditional wooden dhow, travelling out to a couple of the islands for snorkelling, relaxing on a beach and a seafood lunch. The official one is called Safari Blue from Fumba on the south east peninsular - a friend did it and thought it was fab. I did an unofficial one when I was staying on the east coast and it was ok, tho the boat filled with a bit too much wate for my liking, and the snorkelling wasnt in the marine park so was medicore. Those on my G trip did some snorkelling on Mneba Atoll off the north coast and apparently it was really very good,

Stonetown does have a beach but as it is by a working port it is advised against swimming in the water there. Therefore if you want stunning beaches, head over to the east coast where you have palm fringed stretches of white sand as far as the eye can see, with the most stunning turquoise water I've ever seen. You can only swim during the couple of hours of high tide each day tho, as the tide goes REALLY far out. If you want to swim at any time, head to the beaches on the north west tip of the island, like the ones G adventures take you to, as the water is deeper for longer. There are sea urchins there at low tide tho, so its a good idea to wear something on ur feet. The coastline consists of a series of bays, so at low tide you can walk all along the beach, but when it comes in, you have to cove hop along the coast.

There seemed to be a bit more going on in the evenings in the north, as the east coast is just a stretch of hotels and guesthouses along the beach so to eat out you need to hotel hop. I felt the east coast was closer to my idyllic pre-conception of Zanzibar tho.

Another day trip possible from either the East coast or from Stone town would be to the Jozani Forest reserve to see the indigenous Red Colubus Monkeys. A guide will take you into the forest where you will see the monkeys up close in their natural habitat, leeping thru the bushes and screeching from high in the trees. There is also a mangrove forest to walk thru on a boardwalk. Its about 45m taxi from Stonetown on the road across to the east coast, so easy to combine the two.

From Stone town you could also visit Prison island for some snorkelling and to see the giant tortoises it is famous for.I would also recommend a visit to s apice farm north of Stonetown if u can - you get shown around different spice crops tand told how it is harvested, then you sample a selection of freshly cut tropical fruits, some of which you may never have heard of.

While the G tour is convenient as all the transport is taken car of and it includes a spice tour, I actually think that with a bit of research it is more than possible to do this all yourself for less. My first week in Zanzibar I was on my own, and had one night in stone town on arrival then spent 6 days on the east coast in a hostel called Teddys Place. Its a reasonably 'rustic' place, with no floors, internet or tv but the accommodation is little palm thatched huts and the whole place has sand underfoot and hammocks and palm trees. Part of the beauty of my stay there was that it was just so nice to chill out and do as much or as little as I wanted. I didnt feel like I had as much freedom to do that on the G trip. I do feel, looking back on it, that I got a much better feel for the island during that time on my own before the trip, than I would've had I just done the 4 days with G.
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Re: Zanzibar - What to do & see?

Postby AdamfromCanada » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:22 pm

bexonthebeach wrote:I spent a week in Zanzibar on my own recently, then joined the Zanzibar to Nairobi trip with G.

I would definitely spend a day in Stonetown, walking among the old buildings and eating the yummy cuisine. I did it on my own after a lot of research, but a couple of ppl on my trip did a walking tour to learn more about the history and they found it very informative.

A popular trip is to do a 'blue safari' - a day long snorkelling trip in a traditional wooden dhow, travelling out to a couple of the islands for snorkelling, relaxing on a beach and a seafood lunch. The official one is called Safari Blue from Fumba on the south east peninsular - a friend did it and thought it was fab. I did an unofficial one when I was staying on the east coast and it was ok, tho the boat filled with a bit too much wate for my liking, and the snorkelling wasnt in the marine park so was medicore. Those on my G trip did some snorkelling on Mneba Atoll off the north coast and apparently it was really very good,

Stonetown does have a beach but as it is by a working port it is advised against swimming in the water there. Therefore if you want stunning beaches, head over to the east coast where you have palm fringed stretches of white sand as far as the eye can see, with the most stunning turquoise water I've ever seen. You can only swim during the couple of hours of high tide each day tho, as the tide goes REALLY far out. If you want to swim at any time, head to the beaches on the north west tip of the island, like the ones G adventures take you to, as the water is deeper for longer. There are sea urchins there at low tide tho, so its a good idea to wear something on ur feet. The coastline consists of a series of bays, so at low tide you can walk all along the beach, but when it comes in, you have to cove hop along the coast.

There seemed to be a bit more going on in the evenings in the north, as the east coast is just a stretch of hotels and guesthouses along the beach so to eat out you need to hotel hop. I felt the east coast was closer to my idyllic pre-conception of Zanzibar tho.

Another day trip possible from either the East coast or from Stone town would be to the Jozani Forest reserve to see the indigenous Red Colubus Monkeys. A guide will take you into the forest where you will see the monkeys up close in their natural habitat, leeping thru the bushes and screeching from high in the trees. There is also a mangrove forest to walk thru on a boardwalk. Its about 45m taxi from Stonetown on the road across to the east coast, so easy to combine the two.

From Stone town you could also visit Prison island for some snorkelling and to see the giant tortoises it is famous for.I would also recommend a visit to s apice farm north of Stonetown if u can - you get shown around different spice crops tand told how it is harvested, then you sample a selection of freshly cut tropical fruits, some of which you may never have heard of.

While the G tour is convenient as all the transport is taken car of and it includes a spice tour, I actually think that with a bit of research it is more than possible to do this all yourself for less. My first week in Zanzibar I was on my own, and had one night in stone town on arrival then spent 6 days on the east coast in a hostel called Teddys Place. Its a reasonably 'rustic' place, with no floors, internet or tv but the accommodation is little palm thatched huts and the whole place has sand underfoot and hammocks and palm trees. Part of the beauty of my stay there was that it was just so nice to chill out and do as much or as little as I wanted. I didnt feel like I had as much freedom to do that on the G trip. I do feel, looking back on it, that I got a much better feel for the island during that time on my own before the trip, than I would've had I just done the 4 days with G.


Thanks for all the thoughts on Zanzibar. I really appreciate them. I think we may have Stone Town worked out, now I'm just trying to find something on the Indian Ocean side for the first few days. Unfortunately, we're there during the rainy season which is also the slow season tourist-wise, so the first couple of places I've contacted are closed for the time we're there!

I'm going to have to remember about Prison Island...tortoises and snorkelling sounds like a good time. Also planning to see if we can spot some Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys in Jozani Chwaka National Park!
Feel free to check out my travels on http://www.adammallonphotography.com
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