Am I on an Island off the coast of Tanzania or in the center of a Medina in Morocco? It’s hard to tell the difference. The call to prayer ricochets off the high walls down to the alleyways below, cats are scurrying around at my feet and the smell of spices fills the air. Turning right at the next corner, I realise I have been here before, probably three times in fact -in the past half an hour. A man smiles as he points me back in the direction I had just come from, he must be used to tourists getting lost in this Arabic maze which is Stone Town.
A rich history fills the insides of the walls in the old port of Stone Town. You can imagine how bustling the area would have been during the days of the old spice trade when Zanzibar was home to the largest clove farm in the world. Housing architecture that looks as rickety as the old ships docked in the port, I was happy to be getting lost within its surroundings. My senses were constantly delighted as I walked by the stores, from brightly colored fabrics to dried fruits, spices and the delicious smell of freshly roasted coffee. Zanzibar, with a cuisine of its own combining Arabic, Indian and East African influences, creates delicacies such as the Zanzibar soup or Zanzibar pizza – both of which my senses still crave. There was no hesitation when it came to tasting these treats at the Night Market by the peer or the many street vendors tucked away in the alleys. Some might call this town a foodie’s paradise? I definitely agree.
After over indulging in Stone Town, we headed north to get a taste of a different side to this culturally rich island. Green plantations of spices, corn and bananas filled the areas between villages. There was a very calm vibe seen amongst the people as we passed through and I get the impression that the locals on Zanzibar have a very fulfilled lifestyle. Zanzibar has something to offer everyone, whether your up for a relaxing five star hotel experience on the beach, or ready for an adventure in the water, there are endless options.
We stayed at Kendwa Beach for a few nights, a picture perfect section of the island surrounded by beautiful coral reefs and white sandy beaches. I took the time to do some scuba diving and explore the local marine conservation parks. Amongst the nights spent partying and the hangover days spent relaxing on the beach – discovering the marine life of Zanzibar was definitely a highlight.
It’s a shame that I only had such a short time to spend on the Island, I felt like I was just getting into the relaxed island way of living and then suddenly found myself back in the hectic city of Dar Es Salaam. Zanzibar was the perfect place to make a short getaway to paradise before getting back on the road towards Cape Town. I know for sure that I will spend the next fifteen hours on this truck dreaming that I am lying in the sand on Kendwa Beach, sipping a cocktail and thinking about how I could possibly find myself living here – forever!