So after a great time in Ghana, our next destination was Tanzania. We were really curious how different this country would be, since so far the only sub sahara African country we’ve ever visited was Ghana. And after arriving in Dar es Salaam, a lot of differences were immediately apparent.
Dar is clearly a lot more developed than Accra. Most cars were modern instead of being held together by ducktape. We quickly found out that a lot of them were fitted with dvd players and displays in de headrests. We even sat in a car at one point that had a display in the rear view mirror, because the displays on the dashboard and in the headrests were apparently not enough… crazy… Also the roads were well maintained, the building were high and modern, the toilets we capable of flushing toilet paper, there were sidewalks, no open sewers, and there were even trees and stuff: the city was pretty green and orderly. The difference was surprisingly big.
People were more reserved than in Ghana, not quick to just make a talk, although what also might not help is that most people don’t speak English that well. Except for, and here things became a bit annoying, touts. After Ghana we were used to people just wanting to help because they were kind, just wanting to chat because they’re interested. There was no hassle. But clearly we have now arrived in a country that sees lot’s of tourists, and with that there come the people we want to chat to you, in an attempt to sell you safari’s, tours, souvenirs, ticket’s for crappy ferry’s, or what not. People that, after helping you, demand payment. It’s definitely something you encounter in more countries, but it was somewhat of a shock after hassle free Ghana.
On the plus side, there are lot’s of Indian people in Dar, and that means great Indian food! So all in all, except for the hassle of touts, we kind of liked Dar. There was not necessarily a whole lot to do or see, but it was a pleasant enough place to stroll around for a day (Sidewalks! Trees! Just walking around was actually nice), and our stomachs were content because of the great food.
After Dar we went to Zanzibar, the fabled island known for their picturesque Stonetown, and there sparkling white beaches with extremely clear water. Little did we know that those highly praised beaches were not actually that great, but first:
Stonetown on Zanzibar is quite magical. Since Zanzibar belonged to Oman in the past, it is a very Arabic city. It’s a labyrinth of tiny street where you’ll definitely get lost. There were a lot of mosques, and there were also quite a few people walking around in niqab. We rented an apartment through Airbnb and our host, Hassan, showed us around town. It was nice to be shown around by a local, and having our own apartment with kitchen and going to the market each morning to buy food to make a nice breakfast was great. Our travel companions also enjoyed their stay here! Can you find them?
Stonetown was quite touristic and there was a bit of hassle from touts, but at the same time, it really was an extraordinary place. Unfortunately, most of the people here don’t really want to be photographed (people even start walking backwards if they see you picking up a camera), so there are limited photo’s of people, which is unfortunate because people photography is what Lidewij likes best and is best in. But still, here are some pictures of this special place.
From stonetown, we also did a spice tour. We were shown how a lot of spices were grown. This was a very interesting activity.
After Stonetown we determined to checkout one of those fabled beaches. This was a little bit of a let down though. Don’t get me wrong: the sand was pretty white. But also covered in seaweed. The water was a bit murky, and at low tide, the water receded by almost a kilometre, uncovering a muddy beach were the locals could collect shells and stuff. And while at the beach you would be constantly bothered by touts. We were really wondering if we were spoiled by our previous experiences? The thing that saved it was our accommodation which was a beautiful bungalow in nice gardens. The food was great, everything was built to integrate beautifully in the lush green gardens, and they even got a swimming pool so you did not have to swim in the murky seawater.
We mostly hung out there, since the beach was not great, tours to places where shockingly expensive, and while getting to this place from Stonetown by public transport (Dalla Dalla) was no problem, going somewhere else from there was less fruitful. One morning we wanted to visit Jozani forest, but we gave up after waiting almost two hours at the side of the read in the heat for transport that was not already full.
All in all, Zanzibar was a bit of a mixed bag. Stonetown was pretty special, but the beaches were underwhelming, it was very touristic, prices were quite high, almost on European level. So after this we were looking forward to exploring the north of Tanzania, and doing some safari to see if that wouldn’t disappoint. So we booked a surprisingly cheap flight on board a 13 seater Cessna plane to Arusha. While writing this blog post we already did a safari, and explored some more around Arusha. We will write a post about this soon. Stay tuned to find out if this did not disappoint. (spoiler: it most definitely did not)