Marta's Photo Album of Zanzibar, March 2012

March 2012

Getting there

We departed Johannesburg on the services of 1 Time Airlines at 08H45, with check in at the domestic airport at OR Tambo.

We landed after a three and a half hour flight in Zanzibar. Upon arrival we proceeded to immigration control where we got our visas for 50 USD. After collecting our luggage we were met by Juma our driver from Chapwani Private Island and transferred to the beach in front of the Livingstone Hotel for our boat transfer to the island. Our transfer to Chapwani took around 30 minutes through the calm blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

It is a good idea to wear jeans that can roll up as one’s legs do get wet when getting into the boat.

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Chapwani Private Island

This little island is surrounded by a beautiful coral reef and the beach is white sand.

There are ten rooms furnished in traditional Zanzibari elegant but casual style with fans, each one having a sea view. The Bandas are right out on the beach with the clear warm waters of the Indian ocean just a few meters away.

Chapwani island offers a complete relaxation and offers a personalized service in a real oasis of peace and tranquility.

The restaurant is a few steps away from the bandas and has a soft breeze through it making the area nice and cool whilst enjoying your meals. They specialize in fish and seafood dishes, with fresh salads served with the most amazing home baked bread.The variety of fish dishes were very good with interesting flavours of granadillas added. We had our dinner set up on the beach outside our banda each night. This was very romantic sitting at the water’s edge surrounded by candles in the sand. I loved the starter of barracuda carpacchio,so fresh and beautifully presented. During the day you can taste thirst quenching tropical cocktails made with fresh fruit and at sunset it is pleasant to try the aperitifs.

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Chapwani has at its disposal a typical local boat, built by the local Zanzibar shipwrights, which will take the guests out on fantastic excursions to discover the wonderful deep seas, the sandbanks with their packed sea bird colonies and little islands adjacent to Chapwani, like Prison Island. In olden days, this was a forced dwelling for slaves, to then be a quarantine zone and is now home to many aldabara tortoises, some very ancient.

Stone Town

A trip to Zanzibar is not complete without a visit to Stone Town. Sunday is a great day to visit as most people are at home and the streets are less crowded, with a fragrant scent in the air of the spicy food being prepared for families. We visited the Zanzibar Serena Inn. The hotel has been masterfully restored with commanding views of the Indian Ocean and is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the world. We enjoyed an ice cold Kilimanjaro beer on the verandah in amongst a very colonial atmosphere.

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Kichanga Lodge

This gorgeous and intimate property is situated on the South East Coast in a quiet position overlooking a stunningly beautiful sea with a white tropical beach setting.

The lodge has rustic and charming cottages, all facing the sea set in lush gardens and is sold on a breakfast and dinner basis, with lunch as an optional extra. We had the pleasure of staying in a spacious ocean view villa with its private loft room above the main bedroom. The verandah was always cool, with a gentle sea breeze drifting through. I spent many hours in the hammock reading a book with the gentle sounds of the sea in the background. The furnishing was typical Zanzibari style and all the furniture is made by the local craftsmen.

There is a sparkling pool set high up from the beach which affords one an incredible sea view. The restaurant overlooks the ocean and is also set high up with breathtaking views. The breakfasts consisted of a small buffet of fresh homemade breads, some cakes, pancakes, cereals and eggs made to order. There was a selection of fruit juices and tea and coffee served. Dinners were al a carte with a good choice of either meat, fish or vegetarian dishes.
We found the staff so friendly and always willing to go the extra mile for you.

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We were able to do two, two tank dives with Buccaneer diving. This is a 5* Padi gold resort and certainly lives up to its name. They came to fetch us and then took us back to Kichanga after the days diving .The briefing was excellent as were the dive leaders. The visibility was superb with the diving mainly drift with lots to see in the azure blue waters. It was fantastic to be able to see dolphins on the way out and also on the way in on most diving days.

We walked along the beach to the Rock Restaurant, we were told it would take a half an hour, however it took close to an hour which in the heat of the day on a white stretch of sand is a very long walk.

On arrival we waded through the water and encountered the most extraordinary seafood restaurant. The Rock Restaurant is built upon a rock that rises up in the ocean not to far from the shore, however later in the afternoon when the tide comes in, there is a little boat to transport you back to the beautiful Michanwe Pingwe Beach. On arrival we collapsed on the daybeds and ordered ice cold Kilis, which we sipped whilst overlooking the blue ocean. We ordered Gnocchi with crab and spinach and also penne pasta with basil sauce and prawns. We found the music and the ocean so relaxing that it was hard to leave. Kichanga offer a complimentary transfer there and back, which meant that on our second visit we took the car.

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After having spent five very relaxing days at Kichanga it was time to say good bye until our next visit.

In Conclusion
Zanzibar is a year round destination and a true Africa experience with many accommodation options ranging from rustic to five star luxury hotels. The long rains occur from April to May. The destination is warm and welcoming and suitable for honeymooners and families alike. Many diverse activities can be arranged from Zanzibar including safaris into Tanzania, sunset and dinner dhow cruises to Prison island, beach barbeques on deserted islands, or just snorkelling and lazing on the pristine white sand beaches. Stone Town is famous for the bazaars of handcrafted antique furniture, paintings curios and carved doors. It is definitely a destination that you will want to return to.

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General Info and Tips
Visas are currently required for South African passport holders at a cost of USD 50 payable on arrival. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the return date. Yellow fever vaccinations are compulsory for entry into Zanzibar and also for re entry to South Africa. These vaccinations are valid for 10 years and can be obtained at a travel clinic, along with advice regarding malaria and other recommended precautions.

Drink bottled water, drink enough to avoid heat exhaustion and wear a high factor sunscreen. Zanzibar is safe generally, however do not flaunt your valuables in Stone Town as pick pocketing does occur. Avoid walking alone on beaches especially at night.

Money changing facilities are available at most hotels, but the rate is slightly better at the airport on arrival. Travel with US dollars cash as these are also accepted for payments at hotels. The local currency is the Tanzanian Shilling. Do not convert more money than you need as Tanzanian Shilling cannot be exchanged for dollars or rands.

Special Thanks
A very special thanks to all the wonderful people who made our stay in Zanzibar so unforgettable.