When people who don’t know me well ask me “where are you going this year?”, they don’t think I’ll decide my destination when I book the flight.
This happened especially for the 2018 trip (I was planning to come back to Asia but the price to Bangkok took me to Norway, Sami territories and Svalbard Islands) and in 2022 (for various reasons I booked the flight 2 days before departure to Argentina and Uruguay, to which Brazil was added once there).
In 2021 I have been in Tanzania and Zanzibar.
The year immediately brings to mind how special it was to travel (but I have no intention of opening the topic about that period).
Tanzania was probably the only nation in the world fully open to tourism, happy to let in with no restrictions all the people who chose to travel.
Therefore, my choice to travel to Tanzania in my usual nomadic way was very easy and without hesitation.
Apart from the total freedom this country provides, the attractions were also very interesting for me: seeing animals of the savannah and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
I’m used to the Sardinia’s sea so I never considered Zanzibar a must-see destination.
Once I decided to travel to Tanzania, Zanzibar automatically entered the list of destinations.
Moreover, like all islands, it has its own history
Coming here also meant my first time in Africa.
HOW TO GET TO ZANZIBAR
The first step is to contact the Tanzanian embassy.
It was incredibly easy and pleasant to talk to them.
Maybe the historical context had helped, but they were totally willing to help me step by step, both by email and by phone.
In short, no bureaucracy but just a great desire to guarantee me the smoothest trip possible.
Tanzania has 2 airport airports, mainly with stopovers in Doha: ‘Abeid Amani Karume’ in Zanzibar and ‘Julius Nyerere’ in Dar el Salaam.
Depending on the offer, you can land at the latter and then fly to Zanzibar or take one of the many daily ferry connections.
I have to write about my adventure: after the security checks at Kilimanjaro Airport, I was waiting boarding to Zanzibar, with a one-hour stopover in Dar el Saalam.
The boarding gate was still not showing on the monitors, so I approached a hostess to ask for confirmation, just as they were boarding the flight to Zanzibar.
Realising that my final destination was the island, unbelievably she offered me to enter the plane directly.
I get on the plane, without ticket.
Even before I realised what was happening, the plane took off, leaving me throughout the flight in doubt as to whether I had understood the hostess’ proposal correctly.
On landing I saw the sign ‘Zanzibar Airport’, really becoming aware of what had happened.
The only doubt was just knowing what had happened to my backpack. Doubt confirmed when my backpack didn’t arrive at the baggage claim.
I then went to ask about it and was not surprised when they told me to go and look for it in the hold of the plane.
So, I entered the hold of the plane and came out with my travelling partner, ready to discover Zanzibar.
WHAT TO DO IN ZANZIBAR
When people think about Zanzibar, they certainly imagine themselves on heavenly beaches and crystal-clear sea.
That’s certainly true, but it’s reductive to go to Zanzibar just for that.
Stone Town deserves to be explored at a leisurely pace, getting lost in its blind alleys.
Having been born here, Freddie Mercury’s house has obviously been converted into a museum..
Following the road towards the sea, you find a diving centre. In my opinion, this is the best proposal to reach deserted beaches and see immaculate seabeds.
You don’t need a diving licence, you can get on a boat and participate in a snorkelling excursion, which are less demanding but still exciting.
Zanzibarian cuisine is very varied, linked to the different historical periods that shaped it.
Apart from the many places in the alleys of Stone Town, it’s also possible to eat delicious food in the night market on the waterfront.
WHERE TO SLEEP
I’m not an all-inclusive resort kind of guy, so I don’t have any suggestions in this regard.
I can, however, recommend sleeping in Stone Town.
Apart from the possible initial difficulty in finding your way around, this will be the best way to visit the city, go to the beach and embark on the many day trips in the area.
I had chosen the shared dormitory of the Bottoms Up Hostel but the alternatives are many and all equally good.
Zanzibar (as well as Seychelles, Maldives, Sharm el-Sheikh and other similar locations) was not among my preferences but the coincidences that brought me here made me change my opinion.
Stone Town surprised me, giving me new experiences.
I have a very good sense of direction but I got lost several times in its very similar, twisted and hidden alleys.
Getting lost is also what a traveller likes.
The beaches didn’t particularly impress me, but I’m used too well in Sardinia.
Diving, on the other hand, showed me a beautiful underwater world and an immaculate coral reef.
People without a diving licence or who are afraid of the depths need not worry either: simple snorkelling still allows you to see beautiful seascapes and many species of fish.
In short, a trip to Zanzibar is an experience to be had.
Perhaps after the days or weeks spent in Tanzania.