East Africa Part 2: Tanzania/Zanzibar

25 Jun

Time for Part 2 of my adventures in East Africa! You can read Part 1 here.

Before I get into what I did in Tanzania, I want to make sure I don’t forget the little things I learned while I was there. Namely the following:

  • Tanzania used to be called Tanganyika. When the country gained independence in 1964, it incorporated Zanzibar into it and so they changed the name of the country to Tanzania to reflect Zanzibar’s inclusion!
  • They also speak Swahili in Tanzania, but it varies in pronunciation and local words. For example, in Kenya and in-land, you pronounce ‘j’ the same as you do in English. However, in Tanzania (Mainly Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar) it’s pronounced as a ‘y’.
  • Zanzibar is 99% Muslim. This is because Zanzibar used to be the hub of the East African slave trade (I went to the former trade market while I was there). Of course, the British were involved in the trading of slaves but it was mainly the Arabs who had control of the market. So, this meant that the Arabs brought their religion with them and when they married local women or enslaved local people they became Muslims. (That’s a very crude telling of the story, but it gives a bit of context I hope!)

Onto my trip!

Arusha
EAT: The trip from Kenya to Tanzania consisted of the Tucan Travel big yellow truck. Last time I went to Africa with Tucan I travelled in Peeky… this time it was Tom, but amazingly Timan was the driver again! Me, Donna and Alex were obviously overjoyed to see him and it was great to sit up front in the truck and chat about life, the universe and everything with him 😊

Life on the road entering #Tanzania in the trusty #TucanTravel truck! Flapping is GO.

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After crossing the border (after stopping for lunch on the side of the road and doing some good old flapping!) we ended up, 5-6 hours later, in Arusha. As Timan wasn’t going any further with us (booo) Kim arranged for us to have dinner at Snake Park where Timan was staying. Not only was it lovely to spend a little bit more time with Timan, but Snake Park put on an epic meal too!

Of course, at Snake Park you can camp and play with snakes… but it’s the traveller’s bar and the food which got my attention. We had a magnificent barbecue put on for us with beef, chicken, coleslaw, gorgeous potatoes and ugali, salad… honestly, it was an amazing meal. They even put on home-made garlic bread which was so strong and yummy that the mosquitos kept well away (and the men, hah).

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The bar at Snake Park is a bit special too. Lots of traveler’s have decorated the place with mementos, t-shirts, photos and more. There are plenty of cocktails, beers, ciders and more available and it’s just a great place to hang out with other campers and make new friends. True, it’s a 30 minute drive outside of Arusha town centre, but it’s close to the airport and worth popping in if you have the time!

SEE: On the way to Arusha airport you’ll pass the Cultural Heritage Centre and it’s well worth leaving for the airport an hour early to spend a bit of time (and inevitably money) here.

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The centre is a mix of small shops, eateries and am art gallery. It’s this gallery which is the highlight; I spent over an hour wandering around the five floors of stunning artwork and sculptures here. I completely fell in love with various pieces of artwork and SO much of it was wildlife based so obviously I bloody loved that too.

There’s also photography, furniture, animal sculptures and ornaments in the gallery. Most things are for sale and shipment to your home country can be arranged. I spend $15 on an A5 painting, done in the traditional stick figurine style; it’s filled with deep reds and yellows and the black stick figures with bright clothing are just beautiful.

Worth a wander round, if only for the calming water feature if you’re skint!

LISTEN: I wanted to go somewhere local in Arusha. To spend the night in bars and clubs where the people who actually live in Arusha go. And, fortunately, I managed to do exactly that.

The manager of the hotel I was staying at, James, came along with me and my friends and we started the night in Triple A. It’s a trendier bar which has live music and shows football. And, of course, sells Konyagi.

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Oh, Konyagi. It’s sort of like gin (but it’s not) and a little bit like vodka (but it’s not) and nothing at all like rum. But it’s just as strong, cheap and everyone drinks it with soda water. And it’s SO easy to drink… it really shouldn’t be, but it is.

Anyway, long story short me and my friends had way too much Konyagi and at about 10pm we left Triple A to head to Sky Lounge, which is far more like a club. To get there we were led by two local guys (who we sort of knew) down a pothole road to a car. Then about 7 of us got inside said car and drove for 10 minutes to Sky Lounge. I KNOW. I don’t do shit like this in England, I’m far too fucking sensible. The problem with everyone drink driving in Tanzania is 1. Everyone does it. 2. Because they all do it they’re actually quite good at it. To the point where, despite sitting across the knees of two people in the back of a very small car, I had a comfy ride to the club and got there safe and sound.

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That’s me, dancing to dancehall in a local club. I’m dancing with James, the manager of the hotel I was staying out. Dear GOD that man could dance. He didn’t even walk around the bar, he just glided around it, moving like nothing you’ve ever seen. Turns out he’s VERY into his music and he DJs, so dancing is ‘second nature’ to him. To be honest, I was pretty honoured he spent the night dancing with (ok, not with, ‘up against’) me because he was so damn good he could have swaggered up to anyone in that place and made an impression. (Like I said, I do far better in Africa than I do in London – must be the whole ‘being blissfully happy’ thing.)

Anyway, we spent the night dancing to dancehall and contemporary African Rhumba and it was a brilliant night. Aside from a guy, literally, dragging me over to his friend every 10 minutes (that got old fast) and another man filming me dancing (security guard told him to ‘leave the muzungu alone and delete the video, hahaha).

Again; if you’re with someone you know (or just people you’ve met recently on your tour who you trust) then people won’t cause (much) trouble – like you, everyone just wants to dance!

LOVE: If he loves you, Amarula. If he lusts you, Konyagi 😉

Serengeti / Ngorongogo Crater
EAT: So, I spend 3 days on safari in Tanzania and on day 1, we drove to the Ngorongogo crater. We passed through to get to the Serengeti, but on the way back spent lots of time here (see ‘see’ below)!

Tucan run the tour via third-party operators, so it’s not actually Tucan taking you on safari, but one of their partners. So, we had a small truck take us into the Serengeti and on the way to our campsite we saw SO MANY LIONS. But again, I’ll come on to the lions later. What I want to chat about now is the food.

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As well as a driver, the third-party tour operator brings a chef on safari with us, so we had a packed lunch everyday (usually chicken, boiled egg, sandwich, banana, cake and chocolate). In the evenings, when the sun had gone down and we were back at base-camp, we had a meal cooked for us. The best cooked on safari?

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Cucumber soup. SERIOUSLY. It was amazing. Sounds totally rubbish, I know, but honestly, the spices and the way the Tanzanians cook just makes everything so delicious. The cook honestly couldn’t understand why the hell I was asking him for a recipe, haha. The last time I went to Africa I actually used the campsite hobs (basic, but they do the job) to make rosemary sweet potatoes and fish, which at the time I thought was an amazing achievement. But the chef not only made soup, but beef stews, spiced rice with vegetables, fresh COLESLAW and more. Makes you realise and appreciate that the most basic ingredients can create tasty meals.

Again: show the cucumber soup some love. And the delicious food we also had cooked for us by the Bee Eater Safari chef!

EAT/SEE: I hate early mornings. Anyone who knows me knows that if you wake me up before I’m ready to wake up you will get a pretty damn nasty look from me. However, I was up at 4.30am one morning in the Serengeti and I couldn’t have been happier. Why? Because I was about to embark on a hot air balloon ride.

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To get on the ride in the AM, you must have signed up and paid (gulp) around $550 the day before to guarantee a place. The ballooning company will come to your campsite within the Serengeti at 5am to have you at the balloon for 5.30am. There’s a bit of mooching about with your fellow passengers as the balloon, and pilot, get ready. While this is happening you stand in the middle of the Serengeti and watch as daylight creeps in to cover the moon, ready for the safety briefing to begin.

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To start, you get into the balloon basket and the balloon is tipped upright. And then; take off. The Serengeti is a spectacular sight from the ground of course, but from the sky? It’s not hard to understand why ‘Serengeti’ translates to ‘endless plains’ – the beauty of the National Reserve stretches on and on and on. From the sky you get to see the animals interacting in a way you couldn’t comprehend on the ground; I saw a lion leaving it’s kill and skulking off the road to the grasses. About 50m along the road, a hyena was waiting for the lion to disappear (as you’ll know, hyenas are nature’s greatest scavengers). While all this was taking place, vultures were soaring alongside the balloon and circling the kill the lion had just left.

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From the air you get the understand the sheer size of the zebra and wildebeest herds too – I went in early April, so they were starting to group together for their great migration and we saw hundreds of animals grouped in one spot. We soared over a closed-in rock formation and managed to spot two lions hiding in there too! After about an hour, we landed and made our way through the grasses to the vehicle waiting to take us to a full champagne breakfast in the Serengeti.

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On the way to the breakfast location (a beautiful spot under a baobab tree of course) we passed some lions… and then only drove about 200 meters away to the breakfast table. Slightly unnerving for the rest of the people in the balloon (one kid asked if the lions would come to get his bacon, haha) but I would have been SO up for lions to join the party!

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The breakfast was a brilliant end to something I’ve been meaning to tick off my bucket list for a while. Sipping champagne (lol, ok, it was clearly African prosecco but ho hum) and having a full English breakfast in the Serengeti, before heading back to my campsite, was a brilliant way to spend a morning. Yes, the cost is steep, but the experience is totally unforgettable. The reason I work is so I can do things like flying over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon and I couldn’t recommend it enough!

SEE: The Ngorongoro Crater is a stunner. Or, to be more historically accurate, it’s a huge cauldron-like depression in the land which was created when a volcano collapsed into itself around 2-3 million years ago. The crater is 100 square miles… which gives you some indication of how crazy huge the volcano must have been!

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We went through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to get to the Serengeti, but stopped off at a stunning viewpoint beforehand. You can see the full expanse of the Crater from this point and it’s  stunning. Only elephants are really visible from this height, but the greenery surrounding the vast expanse of water in the centre of the Crater is breath-taking. I was, obviously, on the lookout for lions and I convinced myself that I’d spotted one under a tree in the middle of the Crater. My group actually thought I might be right, but our driver quickly got his binoculars out and confirmed that I was looking at a bench. My spotting skills ain’t that hot.

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Two days later, after the Serengeti, we made our way back to the Crater and camped before we heading into the depression itself. As you can see from the photo above, it was super early and the mist and sunrise were pretty damn lovely, even if it was another early morning! You make your way into the Crater by a one-track road which skirts the edge before leading you into the middle. When you’re down there it’s amazing just how much wildlife lives there; flamingos lined the waters edge, hyenas were lying in the middle of the road chilling out, elephants and all kinds of birds strolling around. We even spotted, JUST about spotted, a rhino down there!

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Oh, and lions. YAAAAAY MORE LIONS. The lions we saw were quite something too. The first was a mum and her cubs, hiding by a rock in the middle of yellow and purple wild flowers. The mother did what everyone was hoping and sidled onto the rock and surveyed the land, before joining her cubs again, whose heads kept popping up and down between the flowers. SO CUTE.

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We also spotted a male lion out and about majestically lying down next to a stream. I’m always drawn to water (the sound brings me so much joy) so having a running stream behind me as I gazed at a lion was pretty much the dream! As well as meeting a man via a radio chat (see ‘LOVE’ section) that gives you flavour of my time in the Ngorongoro Crater. It truly is a stunning place.

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LISTEN: In the Serengeti, there are three options: basic campsites with toilets, fancy campsites with toilets or actual buildings to sleep in. Obviously I was in a basic campsite, so I crawled into my tent at night and tried to get to sleep. Of course, hearing a lion roar tends to make sleeping difficult… and hearing it roar so loudly you’re sure it’s only a few steps away is both completely exhilarating (I like things that have the potential to kill me apparently) and incredibly unnerving.

However, I got to sleep.

The next morning (the 4.30am balloon morning) I woke up before everyone else and made my way to the toilets. After putting my clothes on, I started to walk back to my tent and as I did, a hyena crossed my path and stopped. Like… 10 meters away. A proper, legit hyena. Now – they don’t really tell you what to do if you meet a hyena. So I stood completely still and wondered if I should be worried or not and after about 5 seconds, decided I probably should, but that moving was also probably a stupid idea.

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The hyena sauntered across my path, glanced at me and moved swiftly on. So, there you go my friends – if you meet a hyena, treat them much like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and don’t move. Worked for me, so assuming it’s sound advice.

LOVE: Tinder is only really used in big cities across Africa. However, I was set up on a date thanks to the ‘African version of Tinder’ – that is, the radio system the safari guides use to communicate with each other.

Basically, I saw this guy at the Ngorongoro Crater campsite and decided he was hot and looked like Donald Glover (a.k.a Childish Gambino). Had his swagger and dressed a little like him too. The next morning when we were on safari in the crater, I spotted him and realised he was a safari driver and I told my group about my little crush. Then, things spiralled.

It was basically like the most embarrassing high-school set up ever, but taking place in a crater on safari. My group were not only looking for wildlife, but every bloody vehicle that went past was surveyed in case he was in it. It didn’t take long for the driver of my 4×4 to get wind of my crush, and I told him that the guy is hot and looks like a celebrity.

Long story short, my driver RADIOED ALL THE DRIVERS IN THE CRATER and found the guy I had a crush on and then RADIOED HIM DIRECTLY and got him to meet us at a mini-lake in the crater. Of course, their entire conversation was in Swahili so I had no idea what this driver was rocking up to the lake expecting. Super awkward doesn’t cover it.

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When he arrived I turned the sass on and pretended this is a totally normal way to meet people. Their first thing he asked was if he could see a photo of the celebrity he looks like (fml). I showed him, he agreed and then we chatted a bit more. Kim, my tour leader then invited him out with us that evening and gave him her number, and mine, so he could get in touch. She also took the above photo where I look like I’m playing it cool but I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN LESS COOL.

So there you have it. African Tinder. (In case you’re wondering what went on with the guy he tried to skip coming on a night out with me and my friends and just tried to take me straight back to his place. I didn’t go and he spent the 2 weeks after I came home Whatsapping me photos of lions he saw on Safari. Which was actually quite sweet, bless him.)

Zanzibar: Stone Town
Final stop on my tour of East Africa is Zanzibar. From Arusha we headed to Arusha airport (mainland Tanzania) and the airport was one of the cutest little airports I’ve ever seen. It was even smaller than Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls airport (and that’s saying something…) and then I saw the plane.

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The plane we took to Zanzibar was a propeller plane which seated about 20 people and wasn’t big enough to have a hold to put the suitcases in. Everyone’s suitcases were stacked in and outside the one tiny toilet on board, and there was no door to the cockpit… the pilots were just sat in full view. I’m not scared of flying so really enjoyed the experience!

Zanzibar is an island just off the coast of Tanzania. In the 1960s, when East African gained independence, Tanzania was actually called Tanganyika. Zanzibar became part of the country (although to this day it has its own government and operates alone in various maters), so they changed the name to Tanzania so Zanzibar got represented!

Anyway, brief airport story and history lesson over. Onto Stone Town, the capital city of Zanzibar!

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EAT: On the seafront is a restaurant called Monsoon. It’s one of those places that true, is less local and more touristy, but I only had a few meals in Stone Tour and to be honest, the food was great so HERE I AM BEING A TOURIST.

The restaurant has an outdoor terrace (when we got to Stone Town it was unbearable muggy so we sat outside fanning ourselves constantly) and inside the restaurant is covered in rugs and cushions and you have to remove your shoes and sit on the floor to eat. They also have local live music a few nights each week which I didn’t get to experience, but my tour leader Kim said it’s really good.

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The menu is filled with Swahili cuisine; it’s not cheap but it’s not a super high-end restaurant either. I went for a three course meal for what was about $15 and for the quality of the food and the setting it was a lovely meal. First course I went for chicken and passion fruit dressing with chapati (above). With the humidity it was a great light meal and really tasty too. Definitely getting passion fruit involved with chicken salad in future.

For my main course I had Swahili curried chicken (lots of spices, but not hot), chapati, beans, spinach, potato and a mango veggie bit on the side. The chicken was delicious (put coconut in anything and I’ll love it) and the food was just generally yummy. The photos really don’t do the food justice – it was really good and my photography skills aren’t up to much with the above.

For dessert I had Swahili date cake, baked with dates and cardamon with a bit of vanilla. Also very nice, but a tiny bit dry from what I remember! Worth a shot if you want to eat on a lovely terrace with the sound of the ocean to accompany you.

SEE: One morning I went on a walking tour of Stone Town which I totally recommend. Stone Town is a maze of alleyways, each bursting with history (and, honestly, if you don’t go on a tour you just get lost. True, this is a BIG part of the fun of Stone Town, but a guided tour to start you off is a good shout).

Our tour guide was a right character. He learned English from a cockney, so he kept dropping in a London accept to his tour, as well as cockney rhyming slang and lots of British colloquialisms! Total legend is below.

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Things Stone Town is famous for;

  • Being the birthplace of Freddie Mercury. Spoiler: his house looks like a house.
  • The doorways and architecture. The doorways in Stone Town are STUNNING. I’m a fan of architecture and I generally love colonial towns because of the mix of influences on the architecture. A few examples of the doors I spotted are below, and on the tour I learned that the things carved into the doors have meanings. For example, doors which had vines carved into them were ususlaly the homes of people who traded crops or owned plantations.

  • The slave trade. Zanzibar was the hub of the slave trade off the coast of East Africa and saw Arabs coming to East Africa, taking people from their homes and selling them into a life of hard labour lacking in freedom or dignity. The photo above is a sculpture that actually uses a chain from the slave market itself.

  • You might not be surprised to hear that a tour of the old slave market is both shocking and humbling; what East African (all African) slaves endured is beyond our comprehension. However, at the slave market, and the photo above is where they would keep up to 80 slaves. 80 people in that tiny space, having to sleep, eat and go to the toilet in there, and stay in there while they were either waiting to be sold or waiting to be transported.

    There’s an exhibition at the Slave Market too and it’s so worth taking 90 minutes out of the midday sun and heading inside here. The lives of both slaves and slave owners are documented here – everything from the lives of East Africans before the Arabs and Europeans invaded, to how slaves were captured (and subsequently tried to escape), the labour and other jobs they would have to do, their day to day lives… it’s thorough and worth reading everything in there. You’ll come out into the sunshine from a very dark place in history.

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    The food market is a tourist hot-spot and the place where locals actually go to get their food. It’s quite the experience! I entered in the fruit section and was hit but a riot of colour… and then I spotted red bananas, which I totally didn’t realise were a thing! They’re like yellow ripe bananas, but smaller and far sweeter. Delish.

    Then, you walk through the meat and fish market. You can tell the meat and fish is fresh because, eerr, you see stuff being chopped and carved up, with blood going everywhere and the place STINKING as you walk through. The fish section was particularly fragrant… not a spot to go if you’re either veggie, vegan or sensitive to any strong smells! The cats were bloody loving the fish guts spilling on the floor though 😉

  • On the walking tour we also went to a few famous buildings in Stone Town. The first (above) is called the House of Wonders, named so because it was the first building in Zanzibar to get electricity and it was the first building in East Africa to get a lift! It was built for the second Sultan of Zanzibar dontcha know.

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  • The Old Fort pretty much does what it says on the tin (well fort-y), but is worth a wander for the amphitheatre and to see the walls of the fort, which are made with a mix of limestone and coral.

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    Also make sure you pop across to Beit-al-Sahel. It’s now a museum but used to be Sultan Said’s home back in the nineteenth century. It’s worth a tour for the history of the Sultan, his wives and to get a sense of the Oman influence in Zanzibar. Plus, there’s some kick-ass furniture, a beautiful retro bathroom and a life-size painting of Queen Lizzy 2nd in there too (t’was a gift to the island when she visited back at the start of her reign).

    • The best bit of the walking tour? The walking. Through the narrow streets, getting lost, discovering some lovely boutique or just seeing the local women cooking their breakfast chapattis in the morning sun. I stumbled across plenty of beautiful street art, decorations and just poignant items whilst wandering. Some, but nowhere near all, are above.

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LISTEN: The rains in Africa are wanted and welcomed. Usually the rains begin In April, but for the first 13 days of my 14-day tour, we had glorious sunshine. Which is great for tourism, sure, but ruins the crops and means animals don’t have the drinking water they need. But when a storm comes, it comes down HARD.

The storm started as we were on our way back from North Zanzibar to Stone Town. When getting out the vehicle, we got absolutely drenched despite being outside for about 10 seconds. The rain was coming down so hard I wasn’t able to take a day trip to Prisoner Island because the boat would have filled up with water in the time it takes to get there apparently!

But, being able to sit inside with a cold Kilimanjaro beer and listen to the rain hammering it down was pretty great. The newly washed pathways in Stone Town were begging to be explored when the sun made its way past the clouds, so I decided to take a trip to get some mango lassi (Indian yoghurt drink) I’d seen at a film café on my walking tour of Stone Town.

LOVE: I made my way to the film café in a raincoat (the locals looked at me as if I was insane, which I was, because it was SO HOT despite the rain) and despite the narrow, winding, confusing streets of Stone Town, I found it! I went inside, ordered, and ended up having a totally random afternoon. The film café is here and it’s comfy sofas (about 6 in all) on a slope all facing a huge screen. The manager of the place, Omar, explained that he downloads films and people can simply come in and request what they want to watch while they eat. The sound quality was amazing and I ended up watching Public Enemy (well, most of it), Ice Age 4 and some sort of animated dinosaur movie (the last two were due to families coming in and me not wanting to leave because the storm had hit again).

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Or something like that, anyway. Let’s just say that I’ll always remember mango lassi, Omar Zanzibar, Public Enemy and this line: “I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars, whiskey— and you. What else you need to know?”

Zanzibar: Nungwi
You can’t head to Spice Island and not go to a Spice Plantation. Seriously. I know, I know, all the tourists do it, but it’s well good and you should go. (If that didn’t convince you, read on, I promise you’ll be convinced.)

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The tour involves walking around the spice plantation and learning about each of the things that are being grown there. I ate / sniffed / walked through everything, from lemongrass, tumeric, vanilla, cinnamon and more. The lemongrass was SO fragrant, and everything you were allowed to eat just tasted so much better having it straight from the source.

I also discovered Bilimbi and tried it for the first time (that’s the thing in my mouth in the photo above). It’s a REALLY sharp and sour fruit – honestly, with every small bite I was wincing, but it was mouthwateringly good and I couldn’t help but want to eat the entire bloody thing.

As obvious bloody tourists we got pounced on by various men working at the plantation who tried to see us everything from fragrant necklaces, bracelets made out of plants and one guy was selling beautiful perfume, all made from ingredients grown on the plantation. I went for the Jasmine perfume and a few people in the group got some gorgeous smelling soaps.


Then, we got to taste the fruit grown on the plantation and the teas made with the spices there. The guy in the left hand photo casually climbed a huge tree to get us some fruit (honestly, his climbing skills were insane) and we had delicious fresh pineapple and other fruits (photo on the right). SO YUMMY.

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We finished off the tour of the spice plantation by being very kindly invited into the home of one of the women who lives on the plantation. She cooked us a meal (above) of coconut chicken, with spiced rice (including cinnamon, cardamon and more) with fresh coleslaw. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Seriously. The flavours were insane and I ended up having three portions and I’ve since tried and failed to make it at home. Absolutely incredible stuff.

EAT: Most of the places to eat at Nungwi Beach are restaurants which are run by hotels along the beachfront. Now, the food in these places is nice. But you can’t help but be super aware that it’s all tailored to tourists and more expensive that the little local places which give you a real taste of the place.

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I was wandering along the beach and happened across a little wooden shack. To look at it, you’d only notice the clothes hanging in a shop underneath it. But I looked closer and noticed steep wooden stairs (basically a ladder) to a ramshackle terrace, with a counter underneath. There, you’ll find Lisa Cafeteria.

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What I ended up getting was a brilliant meal. I wandered in and realised that the place was a café – when I asked to see the menu they said that there wasn’t one. They just cook something and if you want a small plate of it it’s $3 and if you want a big plate it’s $5. I asked what they happened to be cooking that day and I was coconut beef, spiced rice and vegetables – which sounded amazing, so I got a small plate and a beer.

The food was delicious. Like… so good. Such amazing value for money and the fact that it’s not cooked to order, it’s just cooked because that’s what they wanted to cook that day, really came through. Just good food with a beautiful view.

It’s a tough place to find, but hopefully the link to the rough area it’s in on Google maps will lead you to it, if you choose to go. Be prepared to eat whatever happens to be available; I don’t doubt for a second it’ll be delicious.

SEE: Most people who go to Nungwi, understandably, just lay on the beach. Fair enough. These days, I have no problem at all wandering around in a bikini, but the beach is never going to keep me entertained for long. So, I decided to wander into Nungwi village.

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I was really glad I did. The road into Nungwi Village started off, obviously being full of local shops catering to tourists. But if you walk 20 minutes you start to see the village itself. The kids get more and more interested in you the further you go outside the tourist zone. I had one little girl and her friends start to follow me and they were speaking Swahili. I asked someone what they were saying and apparently they were asking why a white person was wearing such colourful clothes loooool.

Whilst wandering I found a little local shop selling LION PRINT TOPS (got one, obviously) and a square filled with men just playing draughts and cards. I grabbed a drink and was invited to watch, before starting to wander back to the beach.

At the beach, I decided that I wanted to get out the sun but didn’t fancy the beach. So for about $15 I got an hour long massage and it was AMAZING. There are two Muslim ladies who hang out by Nungwi Inn and they do everything from henna and hair braiding to massages. Seriously, the massage was great. Relaxing music and just enough pressure. I have it on good authority that they actually offer happy endings to men, so if that’s your kinda thing then you know where to go… (best I got was a sly boob massage which was more than enough, hahaha).

SEE: The Indian ocean. Well, ‘see’ might be the wrong section for this because rather than just looking at it, I’d recommend going in it. Beach porn below.

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LISTEN: Nungwi beach is lined with hotels. Each of the hotels has an offering – they either focus on seafood and cuisine, watersports, themed nights or parties. The Nungwi Inn, where I stay, is now famous for its Friday night party. They extend the bar well onto the beach, have huge speakers set up and locals and tourists alike (mainly locals to be honest) come along and dance.

The dancing is absolutely incredible, of course. While sipping cocktails on the beach the night before, we noticed that a lot of very attractive local men suddenly appeared and were doing a mixture of dancing, volleyball or press ups. My tour guide explained it’s because wealthy older women basically hire the men as gigolos, so it’s pretty much them advertising themselves as the sun sets, so they can attract an older woman for the evening.

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I mean… if I was at an age where I needed to pay for attractive men (and had the inclination to do so, obvs) then I’d have been spoilt for choice.

As it was, the local studs who hadn’t been picked up by an older woman and had the night free all came along to Nungwi Inn to dance and down Konyagi. The dancing was, of course, amazing. SO so good. Of course, when Kim and I were drunk at about 1am we decided that we wanted to join in and ended up trying to keep up with the guys by the blaring speakers (and failing, but they were nice about it)!

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The Nungwi Inn played a mix of music – Sean Paul appeared, as did Swahili hip hop – it was a great mix and a lot of effort is put in to the party, for sure. It goes on until about 2am, when everyone usually goes to bed.

Kim and I did not.

LOVE: Rather than going to bed, we were taken down a rubble road to someone’s house. We had some guys pay for us to get in and we were led into an apartment complex set up with lights, speakers and all the Nungwi locals dancing in a courtyard.

Now, I know that dancing under the stars is a romantic trope (and to be honest the way the guys were dancing was more of a grind than anything romantic). But there’s something about just being outside, in the warm air, under the beautiful crystal clear stars of African that you can’t beat.

All I did that night was dance with the locals and drink Konyagi (and take advantage of Kim’s hospitality haha), go to a local party (2am), then go to a local’s garden (3am) then go to the foundations of a guy’s house that he was in the process of having built (4am, long story) then wander down the beach (5am). Doesn’t sound like a special night but thanks to the people I was with and the beauty of simply being in Zanzibar, it was an amazing evening.

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And that brings me to an end (it’s taken me 2 months to write bloody blog post but reliving my time in East Africa has meant it’s not a chore)!

So many amazing people. So much I’ve learned. So many marriage proposals. So much Tusker. So many unforgettable experiences. I’m always the best version of myself whilst travelling, and in Africa this is truer than anywhere else. I’d already fallen for Africa, but I loved Kenya and Tanzania so much I’m now learning Swahili and planning a trip back within the next couple of years!

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My head may be back in London, but my heart is very much still here.

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