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What to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar – Tanzania, East Africa

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Vicki Tester

 

For those of you that are looking to add some beach after your safari and have decided to head for Zanzibar, then I would recommend that you should consider some time in the fascinating capital of the Island – Stone Town.

With history that relates to Zanzibar is reflected in the architecture and historic artefacts to be found in the museums and hotels. With the Sultans of Oman having Zanzibar as one of their main trading posts in East Africa for several centuries, indeed it was the capital of their empire for a while; there is a strong Arab influence on the island. Of course there is a huge Swahili feel along with the British and Portuguese buildings to be found, particularly in Stone Town.

I would certainly recommend that you should stay a couple of nights to allow you time to explore and immerse yourselves in the vibrant colours and culture. There are a good number of hotels to choose from, from backpackers to boutique to 5 star hotels – so plenty of choice.

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

One of the best ways of getting to know the town is to take a guided walk through the maze of narrow streets, designed to be wide enough for 2 donkeys and very anti car. The buildings are in all states of repair with the Omani influence very much in evidence but the real stars to keep you reaching for the camera are the ornate doors. Here are carvings of scripts, both religious and secular, flowers and animals of all kinds and beautiful brass studs and nails. 

The walk takes you to the Sultans Palace (now a museum), the House of Wonder and the very moving museum of slavery and its statue of commemoration. Then the walk takes you in to the vibrant and hugely colourful fruit, vegetable and general market. Add in the colour of the Zanzibari women’s clothes and you have a feast for your eyes.

Alternatively catch a dhow out to one of the sandbars that emerge as the tide drops and spend a happy couple of hour’s snorkelling while your crew cook you a fresh from the sea lunch.

Everyone recommends that you watch the sun set and the received wisdom is that Africa House is the place to do this. This is a very buzzy place with all sort of travellers gathered to toast the setting sun. For those wanting a quieter location, and with the same view, then the bar at the Zanzibar Serena Hotel is just as good and has an excellent restaurant which is right on the waterfront.

Book your place to explore the doors, museums, markets, meet the friendly people and drink your sundowner watching the dhows beating their way to the harbour by contacting us at Experience Holidays.

For fuller details, please ask for Peter Ellis.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

The Tanzania Beach and Safari Sandwich

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

A mixture of beach and wildlife covering one of Africa’s iconic destinations.

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The Tanzania Beach and Safari Sandwich

The great thing about this sandwich is that you can reverse the “filling” to have either the safari or the beach in the middle. It also a wonderful answer to those of you that want to mix your stay in this fascinating country, but have never been on safari and are not too sure how long you want to spend out in the bush. This option allows you to have a taste without committing to whole holiday of safari.

Day 1: Zanzibar

Day 7: Arusha

Day 8: Tarangire

Day 9: Ngorongoro

Day 11: Serengeti

Day 13: Lake Manyara

Day 14: Pemba island

Day 20: Depart Pemba

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Description

Below is a suggested itinerary that will take you to the World famous parts of Tanzania and some that are off the beaten track.

Day 1: Zanzibar

Zanzibar has much to offer as well as some of the best snorkelling and diving in the region. Most water sports are catered for at Lodges at the higher end of the market or can be arranged when there. Alternative there are trips to the spice farms on the island and a huge variety are grown here. Perhaps add on a trip to swim with the dolphins on the north coast of the island.

Stone Town is fascinating both architecturally and historically. For centuries it was the centre for the slave trade to the Middle East and was a powerful sultanate that controlled much of the trade in East Africa. The museum of the slave trade is moving and well worth a visit. The town itself is narrow winding place that you can feel lost in very quickly. The doors on the various town houses are ornate and fascinating. Certainly having a sundowner overlooking the harbour is a must and, for the daring, have your supper down in the harbour – an experience of taste, fun and “real” Africa.

Six nights Zanzibar

Day 7: Arusha

Today, fly to Arusha in North Tanzania. If you’re lucky Mount Kilimanjaro might be out from the clouds whilst you are here in the North of Tanzania. It does make a good backdrop in some locations.

One night Arusha

 Day 8: Tarangire

Depart for Tarangire National Park, named after the river that flows through the length of the park and provides a constant water source for the thousands of animals making their home here. Enjoy a late afternoon game drive. Tarangire is famous for good herds of elephants and buffalo and its Baobab trees. The river will be a magnet for the animals at most times of the year as other sources of water often have dried up. 

One night Tarangire

Day 9: Ngorongoro

Enjoy an early morning game drive before breakfast. Mornings are a great time to see wildlife as most are active and some of the night animals are still to be found. After breakfast, depart Tarangire and drive over to the Ngorongoro Conservation area, allegedly the birthplace of man. It is also home to the unique intact caldera, the Ngorongoro Crater. Whilst the big game is mostly in the crater, the rim has an abundance of monkeys, baboons and small antelope. Descend 2000 feet below the rim of the crater for game viewing. The crater is home to abundant game, including the “Big Five,” plus black rhino, jackal and Cape buffalo.

Two nights Ngorongoro

Day 11: Serengeti

This morning drive to Ol Duvai Gorge for a short visit to the site of the remains of prehistoric “Nutcracker man.” You will then continue your journey to one of the world’s best-known parks, the Serengeti. Named after the Masai word, “Siringet” for endless plains of short and long grass, the Serengeti is well known for its large prides of lion, cheetah and packs of wild dog and for nearly a million or so wildebeest, zebra and other antelope that migrate around this Park and the Masai Mara in Kenya. Later in the afternoon, enjoy a game viewing drive.

Two nights Serengeti

Day 13: Lake Manyara

After breakfast you will drive to Lake Manyara National Park via Ngorongoro conservation area. This Park is located on the edge of the Rift Valley and one of the hotels has views down in to the Park. Lake Manyara is home to numerous birds, elephant, its famous tree-climbing lions (to get away from the flies), hippos and buffaloes.

One night Lake Manyara

Day 14: Pemba Island

Enjoy an early morning game drive before breakfast. Later you will drive back to Arusha for a flight to Pemba Island.  This island is well off the usual tourist track and is famous for supplying about a quarter of the world’s cloves. The sea and the coral are protected and should be in very good condition and ideal for snorkelling and diving.

Six nights Pemba Island

Day 20: Depart Pemba

Today you’ll return to the airport for the onward or homeward journey.

Leopard 2 - PE

Courtesy of Peter Ellis


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Courtesy of Peter Ellis


Elephant drinking - PE

Courtesy of Peter Ellis


Lion 3 - PE

Courtesy of Peter Ellis

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Little Gems

Watching the Wilderbeest migrate across the sea of grass in the Serengeti.

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Southern Tanzania Safari & Zanzibar

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This itinerary provides a great combination of safari and beach – perfect for both first timers and experienced safari aficionados. Spend 5 nights in Selous National park with a few days at a hotel or lodge on a beautiful beach on the island to allow you to relax and enjoy the Indian Ocean. 

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Southern Tanzania Safari & Zanzibar

Day 1: Selous National Park

Day 2-5: Selous National Park

Day 6: Stone Town, Zanzibar

Day 8: Beach, Zanzibar

Day 12: Depart Zanzibar

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Day 1: Selous National Park

From Dar es Salaam, take a small plane flight to the Selous National Park. On approach to the airstrip look for pods of hippo in the Rufiji River and possibly elephant making their way down to drink. The safari vehicle will be waiting to meet you together with a cool drink and refreshing hand towel. The drive to the lodge will be the first game drive of the trip stay here. Late afternoon will see you meeting your guide for the time here and a drive in to and around Selous Park. The lodges and camps here are small in size and are usually overlooking the Rufiji River. Most have wildlife passing through their areas so you will be escorted to and from the tent.

Five nights Selous National Park

Day 2 to 5: Selous National Park

Game drives early in the morning and again in the afternoon taking you to different parts of the Park, visiting lakes, plains and along the river – even a dip in a hot pool that bubbles out of the ground in the middle of the bush. Alternatively there is an excellent river cruise up the river. This gives great views of the hippo, crocs of all sizes along the banks and, if really lucky, a leopard sunning itself on the rocks of the ravine. The chances are that you will have a sundowner on a sand spit in or alongside the river, watching distant elephants (and other animals) coming down for their evening drink.

Day 6: Stone Town, Zanzibar

After a final game drive and breakfast, return to the airstrip for a flight back to Dar es Salaam and then on to Zanzibar Island. Once again you will be met and transferred to your hotel right in the centre of Stone Town. With views of the sea and the dhows and other boats entering and exiting the harbour you are in centre of activity. Stone Town has so much history to see, fascinating markets, beautiful doors and a wealth of interesting people. Two nights here gives time to explore the sights and scenes of Stone Town.

Two nights Stone Town

Day 8: Beach, Zanzibar

Finally, spend a few days at a hotel or lodge on a beautiful beach anywhere on the island to allow you to relax and enjoy the Indian Ocean. Where to stay will depend on your preference of size of hotel you prefer. There are choices from large to boutique hotels and all offer activities on the island or on/under the sea. Or just lay back and drink up the sun, sand and beach. Four or Five nights here will put the finishing touches to your bespoke Tanzanian adventure.

Four nights Beach

Day 12: Depart Zanzibar

Depart from Zanzibar today for the onward or homeward journey.

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Gems

Cruising up the Rufiji River looking for leopards, with crocs and hippos all around is a real highlight in this itinerary.

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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