The first thing we learnt is that Zanzibar is not an Island, it is a collection of Islands, the largest of which is Unguja Island where most visitors stay. We stayed on the North Eastern coast at the Ocean Paradise Beach Resort.
As soon as we got off the plane the humidity hit us, as should have been obvious by the verdant green of our new surroundings. The beaches we walked on were glistening white, the sea almost as warm as the air and we got educated in Stonetown and on a spice farm. We also took in a wildlife conservation centre and got close to the animals.
Around the Hotel
Going to breakfast I loved to watch the beauty and industry of the Golden Palm Weaver Bird, while the beach acted as a high street, a highway, a place of fun, a place of work, or simply a place to relax.
I loved the contrast provided by a passing storm.
Stonetown and Spice Tour
We had to go to the UNESCO listed Stonetown and learn more of its dark past, being a focal point for the slave-trade. We combined this with a trip to a spice farm. Stonetown also provided the opportunity to pay homage to the great Farrokh Bulsara (more popularly known as Freddie Mercury).
Before heading to Stonetown we were aware of how easy it was meant to be to be able to get lost in the old town area, an area with no street names. So even with a good sense of direction, it made sense to go with a guide. It was easy to see why – against my preconceived ideas, the town is very, very flat and the buildings tall, making it impossible to get a bearing on any one fixed item.
The images help to reflect the island’s past and the dominance of the muslim religion. The doors were a great feature in the old town, even those hanging on half decaying buildings were impressive enough. As usual I found the market area particularly interesting.
The Spice Tour followed and was fascinating, though items such as turmeric root, cinnamon bark and ginger don’t exactly make the most thrilling of images. So here are just a couple:
While we were going round the guide was simultaneously making our leaf adornments, an incredible achievement.
On our last full day we took a journey on a traditional dhow boat, snorkeled and took lunch on the small island of Kwale. No waterproof camera (and am never that impressed by the results) so all shots are above water!
The final gallery is saved for our trip to the animal sanctuary called Cheetah’s Rock. Here we got to see up close a number of animals, support a mission to rescue and house animals, including some critically endangered species. It is stated that no animals are drugged, declawed or suffer any other such inhumane treatment.
While we wanted to come away with nothing but praise, we came away with mixed feelings, though it is clear the owner / manager did have their heart in the right place.