Zanzibar – already the name of this island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania resonates so much wanderlust. „Hakuna matata“ (Don´t worry) and „Pole pole“ (Slowly, slowly) determine the island lifestyle. Zanzibar seems to be one of the last tropical destinations that can be easily reached from Europe, but has little or no tourism in many parts of the island.
Ebb and flow determine the daily beach life, at least at the beautiful white beaches of the east coast like Jambiani and Matemwe. The coast is paradisiacal – but unlike elsewhere. Even at high tide, swimming is difficult due to the whirlpool temperatures in December and the very shallow water stirred up with sea grass. During mudflat walks between sea urchins and starfish I watched the women harvesting sea grass and was always irritated how leisurely tourism on the island seems to start.
Pure Lonelinessin Matemwe
Matemwe is a real jewel. Outside the accommodation I hardly found a single person on the beach. Three days of pure relaxation: staring at the beautifully grown palm trees, relaxing in the hammock and enjoying seafood at lunch and dinner. The Eco Boutique hotels are charmingly integrated into the village, but the extreme contrasts are still very visible. Good to know: There is either the very local bus (impossible to make with luggage) or taxis at a price of 80 dollars one-way.
From Matemwe it is a half hour drive over gravel roads to the diving schools north of Kigomani, which go out to the Mnemba atoll.
Nungwi is the tourist stronghold of the island. But there are almost no tides, sea whole day and the water is dreamlike turquoise.
Like a maze
Stonetowns Arabic and Indian influences are noticeable at first glance. The capital of Zanzibar (Unesco World Heritage Site) is lively and hot, exotic and guarantees to get totally lost in the narrow alleys. No matter how well you study the map, you will immediately get lost in the narrow alleys.
During the day one sees few Zanzibaris, almost only sellers in the many alleys of the city. But after sunset and slightly less sultriness, the women flock in large groups with their children to the Forodhani food market on the promenade. Then it gets really crowded in the small park. If the stomach plays along, dinner can be quite cheap and everything can be tried: grilled octopus, Shawarma or the Zanzibar pizza.
Very impressive are the old Swahili doors made of teak and mahogany, decorated with elaborate carvings. The metallic tips are reminiscent of Indian influences, as they once served as protection against elephants.
The Darajani market, where fruit and vegetables, spices, crafts and fresh fish are sold, was my absolute highlight. I love to soak up impressions in the middle of the daily hustle and bustle. The fish hall and the auctions in front of it are especially worth seeing. Zanzibar is famous for its spices, coffee is even available with a subtle taste of ginger, cloves or cinnamon.
Dar Es Salaam
24h in the capital of Tanzania were more rewarding and less chaotic than I had imagined. I also didn’t find Dar es Salaam particularly dangerous, although it was certainly advisable to walk to Kariakoo Market (the largest market in East Africa) without valuables. But after nightfall at the latest, there is no way around taking a taxi booked through the hotel. The city should even have the most beautiful beaches of the country a little outside.