Swimming and snorkelling in the blue seas off Zanzibar’s coastline and heading deeper into the Indian Ocean to dive over reefs with local friends – can real life experiences get more idyllic? Intrepid’s Jacquie Burnside has just returned from Tanzania, and this time Zanzibar was top of her travel list…
“I had heard much about this spice island paradise, so was full of excited anticipation as the ferry from the mainland docked at the Stone Town port. Soon the port area, busy by day with the traffic of traditional sailing dhows unchanged in design in 600 years, would glow beneath a red and purple African sunset.
Chock full of history and character, I quickly lost myself in the labyrinth of alleys and back streets… that’s always half the fun of exploring an Old Town area.
Women shrouded in traditional Muslim attire, more reminiscent of ancient Arabia than my current perception of Tanzania, wander the narrow paths with baskets of spice and fresh produce balanced atop their heads. Men prepare for prayer time at one of the many small mosques squeezed between shops, residences and guesthouses, while kids play with simple homemade toys, easily finding their way in the streets that totally confuse me.
And then the island’s northern beaches beckoned. Not usually one to last long just lying around on the beach, I quickly found myself slipping into the (very slow) rhythm of life. Waking as the tide came in and the waves gently lapped beneath my balcony, enjoying breakfast looking out over the tropical waters that are sometimes blue and sometimes green, and sometimes simply stunning ever-changing hues, popping to the beach to sunbath and swim before it was time for another visit to a different restaurant for a little seafood lunch. After such a strenuous morning, I of course needed to reward myself with a wee afternoon kip before heading back to the beach and another gorgeous sunset, a sun-downer or two and a big walk (20 metres across the sand) to my chosen dinner spot!
After a few days of this sort of extreme activity, I finally booked an island snorkelling trip. I had an amazing time sailing off on a dhow, but returned to my beach-side paradise in time for a bit more of yesterdays activities! Hard times on Zanzibar I tell you… it takes a certain type of traveller to cope with this kind of excitement ”