The Unique Experience of Backpacking Zanzibar0
Africa has always attracted those with adventurous spirit. This wonderful continent has inspired many writers and artists to create magnificent works of art. Yet, even now, after all these years of fascination we seem to know nothing about it. And that ignorance is, at the same time, terrifying us and intriguing us. You should believe the geographer’s George Kimble words, when he says “The scariest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it”. With that in mind, set sail towards the adventure of your life in one of Africa’s most beautiful countries – Tanzania and its most scenic area – Zanzibar. You will fall in love in it instantly, discover many new things and you will not even have to spend a lot of money. Here are some things to know if you decide to take that leap.
Well, this one is easy – the entire Zanzibar is one major highlight. Azure waters so clear that you can see the bottom of the ocean, tropical white sand beaches, old town trapped in history (Stone Town), colorful markets transmitting the aromas of spices, warm breeze and an astonishing island welcoming everyone to visit regardless of their budget – that is Zanzibar. The first on your backpacker’s route should be precisely Stone Town, and then you can move on to Nungwi (a village at the north-west of Zanzibar, which is a popular destination for backpackers, often called the “party town”), Kendwa (a peaceful village near Nungwi), Prison Island (Changuu Island – the island where slaves were kept before being sent to Middle East or Europe), Pongwe (captivating beach at the east coast). You can finish the tour with Pemba Island (small island next to Zanzibar, widely untouched by tourism).
The Costs in Zanzibar
You can easily make it through the day in Tanzania (excluding safaris and other excursions) with $20-$30 per day. The delicious Tanzanian street foods can cost you about $1 per meal and if you want to eat in a decent restaurant where you can sit and chat you will pay around $2-$5. Depending on the location, the size of the space and other conditions, accommodation in Tanzania for one person costs $4-$10 per night. If you are staying in a house (houses range from $15 – $30 per night) in Tanzania and you do not have all the necessary appliances or similar items, you can basically buy everything from a coffee maker to a stove for a bargain at various websites. Transport is rather cheap and its price is calculated based on hours and not distance – an hour’s ride costs one dollar. Make sure you are not making your schedule based on public transport because buses tend to be late from one to three hours.
You will truly experience Zanzibar when you let go of your restraints and familiarize with local customs, food and people. Because you should respect what you do not understand and because you are a welcome guest you should act like one. It is considered impolite to wear clothes that leave your knees or shoulders uncovered. People of Zanzibar are very friendly and welcoming, and there is no place on the island where you will not hear “Karibu”, which means – “you are welcome here”, upon entrance. Try to talk with the people welcoming you, after some time you will be called “rafiki” which translates to “friend”. It is really heart-warming how the locals accept foreigners and help make their stay easier. You can spend your time in Zanzibar by engaging in a lot of fun activities, such as snorkeling, diving, playing beach volley, etc. You simply must try local culinary wonders, such as biryani (spicy rice with meat or fish curry), octopus curry, mandazi (doughnut), Zanzibar Pizza (nothing like the Italian) and durian (one of the world’s most amazing fruits). Make sure you visit the famous Mercury’s Bar, named after Freddie Mercury, who was born in this country. Mercury’s has a happy hour from 5 to 8 PM so you can even save some money, while watching Freddie Mercury’s photos and enjoying the seaside.
We cannot dispute that all of Africa is amazing, but Zanzibar is truly unique. An old Zanzibar proverb says: “When you play the flute in Zanzibar all of Africa dances”. So pack your bags and put on your dancing shoes.