Our association with Zanzibar goes back 50 years.

We will:

  • Discuss your needs,
  • book your holiday, tailored just for you,
  • give you full financial security,
  • and our agent will meet you on arrival, provide all transfers, and be available to you 24/7 for any assistance.

Archive for the ‘Our Blogs’ Category

KENYA SAFARI – JANUARY 2017 – Peter & Linnet Brown from London

Posted on Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Dear Michael & Natalie,

We are now back, after our very successful 9 day safari in Kenya taking in Samburu National Reserve, Olpejeta Conservancy, Lake Nakuru National Park and the Masai Mara.

I am writing to thank you for making the arrangements, and to give you some feedback.

Travel Arrangements. These all worked exactly as programmed by your agent in Kenya, Chameleon Tours, which proved most reliable. The internal flights worked well : the small planes were 12 seaters and exciting, although their time tables were a bit flexible and depended on the number of passengers and stops. We were very happy also to travel by road between camps. Apart from the cost savings, we experienced Africa and felt more a part of it rather than just tourists. But– the journeys were long and a lot of the roads were very basic!

Drivers and guides. Throughout, except on one occasion, we had our own personal driver and guides. Chameleon provided us with a driver/ guide, Davis, who accompanied and looked after us up until the Karen Blixen Camp. He proved a good traveling companion and was keen to discuss Kenya generally. The Laikipia Camp and Karen Blixen Camp (Masai Mara ), insisted on using their own guides who were both very good.

Accommodation. All camps had very good facilities and food. They were different in their styles.

Elephants Bedroom (Samburu) was probably the most like camping in the bush as it used to be (elephants round the tent at night) and we managed to see leopard – very exciting!!

Kicheche Laikipia Camp was small, and very personal, like staying in someone’s home, with great attention to detail and particularly excellent food- a throwback to colonial entertaining- game came very close, coming across the dam next to the camp.

Mweha Camp ( Nakuru) was quiet and a long way from the game park. It was large and well appointed; The accommodation was in huts rather than tents. Good, but perhaps the least attractive.

Karen Blixen Camp (Masai Mara) was probably the best organised AND located of the camps, with masses of hippos across the river. The facilities and services are modern and excellent, although we found our “personal waiter” rather over enthusiastic.

Conservancies v National Park. Conservancies are better because, frankly, they are more exclusive and have restrictions on the number of vehicles that can chase after each other when an animal is spotted. Also the National Parks are expensive for a 24 hour ticket, which you have to buy, and which is not consistent with the pointlessness of driving around mid- day. We found early morning drives the best in every way.

Animals. We saw all the game we could wish for, up close (a bit too close on one occasion when a large baboon got into our vehicle!). We were able to watch animal behaviour, especially elephants, lions and leopard, as well as ticking off our “I spy” lists.

Peter & Linnet Brown – London

Bucket List Item Ticked

Posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

From Ian & Judy Jary – November 2016

Good evening Michael & Natalie,

We returned yesterday from our two weeks in Tanzania/Zanzibar. I cannot stress strongly enough how good the holiday was, it was truly amazing.

The Safari part of the holiday far exceeded our expectations, the two camps were nice and quiet with only 20-24 guests at the most, just what we wanted. The staff were excellent, very attentive and could not do enough to please us.

We saw plenty of, and a wide variety of game both land based, and water based, and fortunate enough to see two leopards in the Ruaha National Park.

leopard

The lion cubs in Selous Game Reserve were a treat. Mother was nearby keeping an eye on things.

cubs

Special mention should go to Lake Manze Tented Camp, it was unbelievable, brilliant location, the 2 managers were excellent, our guide and driver were brilliant. There were many seasoned safari guests that we met who all said that the camp was the best they had visited. It has everything, driving, boating and walking Safaris. And a great birthday cake!

elephants

hog

Breezes Beach club was a lovely oasis in Zanzibar, we both had a lovely relaxing time. The evening meals had a theme every evening and it was excellent. Drinks were a bit pricey! We did enjoy the Spice Farm tour.

The Mizingani Hotel was lovely, great character and good location, breakfast was nice. We were in the Freddie Mercury room, it was a bit noisy in the morning when the staff were setting up for breakfast. But the character of the Hotel and service made up for this Your agent, GTI and Alawi were fantastic, arranged everything we asked and he was very knowledgeable. To summarise, a fabulous holiday and a bucket list item ticked off. Please do not hesitate to pass on my e-mail address to any potential clients.

Ian Jary

KISAMPA BUSH RETREAT

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

kisampa1A Special Place for Nature Lovers.

Located on the mainland of Tanzania opposite Zanzibar, so just a 20 minute flight away from Zanzibar, we consider Kisampa Bush Retreat is something very special.

Situated on a remote hilltop on the border of Saadani National Park, and with a vista of the plains below, Kisampa accommodates just 14 guests in 6 open sided thatched bungalows each with hand crafted furniture and verandah with spectacular views. Each bungalow has its own private bathroom set into the surrounding bush and open to the stars. To accommodate families, a “star gazer” tent can be erected next to the bungalows. There’s also a spacious communal bungalow for relaxing at Kisampa.

kisampa2Kisampa is a private community conservation sanctuary. Because it’s their own sanctuary, you won’t bump into other safari-goers anywhere on Kisampa conservancy. The experience is intimate and personal. Being located just outside the Park, it does not have the high costs of safari camps located within parks/reserves, hence its accommodation rates are very reasonable. It does not have the restrictions of a national park/reserve so long bush walks, canoeing, bird watching from a viewing platform, picnics at a beach or beach camping are available.

kisampa3From Kisampa full day game excursions in Saadani National Park can be arranged. With a wide variety of game and birds, Saadani is unique in East Africa as it is the only game park which borders an ocean.

Kisampa is about people, with a total of 5 villages and several hundred people being involved in, and benefitting from the sanctuary. Not only does a concession fee for every bed filled go to the community, but just as importantly, all supplies and most staff are from the area. Funds help local schools (the first secondary school in the area has recently been completed) and medical facilities continue to be developed.

Freddie Mercury at 70

Posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Bulsara) was born on 5 September 1946 on what was then the British Protectorate of The Sultanate of Zanzibar.

He would have turned 70 in early September 2016 had he not passed away in 1991 at the age of just 45. Taken far too young.

Farrokh Bulsara’s parents moved from India to Zanzibar where his father worked as a cashier in the High Court. In 1954, at the age of 8, Farrokh was sent to India where he completed his education at St Peter’s English Boarding School just outside Bombay (today Mumbai). It is here his interest in music began, at the age of 12 forming a rock & roll band – “The Hectics”.

It was also during this time he started to us the name “Freddie” rather than his given name.

stone-town

In early 1963, on the completion of his education in India, Freddie returned to Zanzibar. Little is known to us about what he did for the next year on the island. Given his remarkable talent for music, one could speculate he honed his skills on a number of musical instruments, particularly the piano, an instrument on which he excelled.
January 1964 witnessed one of the bloodiest revolutions in history.
The islands population were mainly African, but the majority of wealth and governance lay with the minority Arab & Indian population.

The revolution overthrew the then Sultan, ending nearly 300 years of Zanzibar being ruled by an Oman dynasty. The exact number of Arabs and Indians who were slain is not known, but it does run in to 5 figures.
The revolution saw the mass exodus of the remaining Arabs and Indians, including the Bulsara Family who fled Zanzibar and migrated to England.

In England, Freddie enrolled at art school and obtained a diploma in Art & Graphic Design, subsequently played with several bands until 1970 when the group, Queen, was formed. And the rest is history…

Surprisingly Zanzibar does not dwell excessively on its association with one of the greatest rock musicians of all time.

There are a few buildings which, rightly or not, claim to have been where the Bulsara Family lived – and they may well have lived in different abodes.

There is one restaurant called Mercury’s, near “the big tree” (a local landmark) and close to the harbour from which Freddie and his Family would have sailed from the island.

dhow

A dhow departs from Zanzibar at sunset

(We regret that copyright laws do not allow us to include an image of Freddie Mercury. But people who lived through the era of Queen do not need an image – Freddie in his pomp & glory will live forever in our minds.)

Unbeatable Prices on Sultan Palace Hotel

Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

sultan palace hotelSultan Palace Hotel is arguably the best-located beach hotel on the island with magnificent views over the ocean.

Our long-standing and fruitful relationship with Sultan Palace has resulted in Zanzibar Travel being granted the most favourable rates offered to guests.

We can now offer unrivaled prices at this exclusive “boutique” hotel.

sultan palace hotel zanzibarEach of the extremely spacious Suites are inspired by the rounded shapes of the Nautilus shell. Each Suite is decorated differently, with unique drapes and local furnishings as well as some Omani antiques. The Imperial & Ocean Suite’s private terraces overlook the ocean and allow direct access to 20 km of sandy beach; Garden Suites overlook the lush exotic gardens. Jasmine, Frangipani, Passion Flower are the evocative names of some of the suites, recalling the plants and flowers in the Suites respective gardens.

zanzibar travelNo better way to start the day is with breakfast, looking out over the ocean, served on the balcony of the impressive circular main building. Food-wise things get better with a sumptuous lunch served at the Beach Restaurant. After a swim, or a nap, afternoon tea with home made cake/biscuits is served beside the swimming pool. In the evening, gather for cocktails before making your way up the semi-circular staircase to the grand dining room for a la carte dinner.

zanzibar sultan palace hotelPlenty of opportunity to work all this off by walking for miles along the palm fringed beach. It is one of the very few hotels on the island where swimming is possible at low tide in the large lagoon in front of the hotel which provides good snorkelling. Or a gentle swim in the Hotel’s pool.

Our Exclusive rates start at £135.00 per person per day.

Contact us for all our 2017 deals

WHERE TO STAY ON ZANZIBAR ??

Posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2016

We are often asked – “Where is the best place to stay on Zanzibar?”

The answer must be – “It depends what you are looking for”.

zanzibarTo get an idea one needs to understand the geography of the island so we have included a map. The island is about 50 miles long and 25 miles wide.

Assuming people are looking for beach locations, different parts of the island have different types of beaches and different attractions.

Visitors to Zanzibar need to know that the island, and the whole of the East African coast, has extreme tides. At low tide swimming in the ocean is limited, but lovely to walk out towards the reef through the pools. At high tide the ocean is warm with gentle waves. Snorkeling off the beach is very limited – best to go out beyond the reef with scuba dive boats.

THE SOUTH EAST COAST (the bottom right hand side of the map). This is where one gets the long stretches of palm fringed beach with powder soft sand. The northern part of this stretch has been ranked by Conde Naste Traveller in the top 30 beaches in the world. This is the kite surfing “capital” on Zanzibar. Scuba diving and snorkelling beyond the reef is rewarding. Top tip. Hire bicycles to ride for miles along the beach calling in at villages along the way. Visit Zala Park nature reserve. Hotels on this stretch include Sultan Palace Hotel, – Breezes Beach Club & Spa, – Echo Beach Hotel, – Zanzibar Ocean Blue, – Arabian Nights Suites.

THE SOUTH COAST – is more coves and bays rather than extensive stretches of beach. As such, less populated with hotels. Top tips. Hump back whales muster during July/August. Some interesting villages to visit. Diving and snorkelling is good. Hotels we use are Unguja Lodge and Fumba Beach Lodge both of which organise dolphin viewing trips.

zanzibar north east coastTHE NORTH EAST COAST (top right hand side of the map). Also long stretches of beach, particularly further north. Many hotels have been developed on this stretch, but visitors can still find seclusion. Very good diving and snorkelling around the Mnemba Atoll. Good kite surfing. Hotels we favour on the North East Coast are Bluebay Beach Resort & Spa, – Shooting Star Lodge, – Sultan Sands Hotel, – Next Paradise Boutique Hotel, Azanzi Hotel, – Green & Blue Hotel.

NORTH COAST – NUNGWI – The beach in the fishing village of Nungwi is, obviously, shared with local people. There are a wide variety of marine activities on offer. Apart from the beach things to do include a visit to the small turtle sanctuary, guided village tours, watch dhows being built in the traditional way, hire bikes to explore the north. Of the many hotels in Nungwi we like Flame Tree Cottages, – The Z Hotel, – Langi Langi Beach Bungalows and for an international style hotel, Double Tree By Hilton, Nungwi.

north coast nugngwiNORTH EAST COAST – This stretch of coast, south of Nungwi village, is least affected by the extreme tides which are experienced on the whole of the East Coast of Africa. Along this stretch there are a number of very large All Inclusive hotels, as well as some back-packer type hotels which we do not use. Some of the hotels we use are La Gemma Del’EstHideaway of Nungwi – and probably our favourite – Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa.


 

Book your perfect Zanzibar Holiday today

Introducing MAWIMBI VILLA

Posted on Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

On the mainland coast of Tanzania, opposite Zanzibar, so just a 20-minute flight.

Mawimbi Villa

Mawimbi Villa is a magnificent 6 bedroom house with all rooms benefiting from air-conditioning and en-suite facilities.

Tastefully furnished in a contemporary style it is the epitome of high-class accommodation and a perfect retreat for an extended family, or groups of up to 12 people, wishing to enjoy complete privacy and high levels of service. It is totally self-contained, with a swimming pool; dedicated team of staff and has high-speed internet.

Mawimbi Villa 2

Your own Chef – Your private chef will prepare fresh meals tailored to the specific needs of the group. Of course he has access to the freshest seafood you will find anywhere coming straight from the local fishermen. The chef can accommodate any dietary needs of the guests and will ensure something different, interesting and tasty will be prepared for each meal.

All of the 6 en-suite bedrooms are lavishly furnished and exceptional proportions. Additional beds can be added to provide family rooms.

Mawimbi Villa 4

All-inclusive – Accommodation is on an all-inclusive basis, and the Villa is occupied on an exclusive basis ensuring total privacy the guests.

Activities Include

  • A day long excursion can be taken to Saadani National Park which can include a canoe trip to view crocodiles and hippopotami.
  • Visit the historic town of Pangani at the mouth of the Pangani River, once a major terminus of caravan routes to the deep interior of Tanzania, as well as an important centre of the slave trade.
  • Marine activities including scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and deep sea fishing.

Getting to Mawimbi Villa

There are several airlines with daily flights from Zanzibar and from Dar es Salaam to Pangani

Airstrip. It is then just a 20 minute road transfer to Mawimbi Villa.

Rates & Availability

Do get in touch with us for rates and availability and for any more information about the wonderful Mawimbi Villa.

If you’d like to know more about Zanzibar Holidays contact us today on 01242 222 027.

THE TIDES LODGE – Zanzibar

Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Located on the mainland of Tanzania in an area known as the ‘Swahili Coast’, this hidden gem is only a 20 minute flight from the island of Zanzibar.

The “Sunday Times” rated Tides Lodge as one of the top six “secret beaches of the world” (we have never been very good at keeping secrets!)

THE TIDES LODGE

The Tides offers a unique combination of idyllic beaches, access to the historic town of Pangani and yet close enough for a days safari in Saadani National Park. Three holidays combined into one!

The small, intimate lodge of just 9 cottages is set on a palm fringed and secluded beach giving the guests the feeling of peace and exclusivity. Guests can walk for miles each way from the Lodge passing only the occasional friendly local fisherman. The Lodge itself is deliberately low key and relaxed, yet offering the very best levels of service and cuisine. Staff are all employed from the local villages and take great pride in their jobs.

The Lodge itself is deliberately low key and relaxed, yet offering the very best levels of service and cuisine. Staff are all employed from the local villages and take great pride in their jobs.

There are a host of activities to occupy your time – if that is what you like – including excellent snorkelling, scuba diving as well as other water based activities such as kayaking and surf skiing. Big game fishing is available both for beginners and the experienced. Day trips can be arranged to the nearby Saadani National Park which boasts a diverse array of flora, fauna and animals. Cultural excursions to the historic and unspoiled town of Pangani is a fabulous experience.

THE TIDES LODGE

Tides Lodge has a range of accommodation including beach front cottages, a honeymoon suite and a two bedroom family cottage. The seven bright and breezy individual en-suite cottages are set among the palms overlooking the sea; each has a private secluded sunbathing area. The honeymoon suite, set in a private location, is on 2 levels – downstairs is a lounge area and bathroom and the first floor bedroom enjoys a large balcony overlooking the gardens to the ocean. The family house is beach fronted and has 2 large double bedrooms, a central living area and a dining table for private dining and can accommodate up to 6 people. Outside there is a large veranda and private beach area with parasols.

The Tides Lodge offers a rare and wonderful escape from the frantic pace of everyday life – with only the sound of the ocean waves as a distraction, rest and relaxation is obligatory.

THE TIDES LODGE

Getting to Zanzibar

Posted on Sunday, December 13th, 2015

There are no direct flights from the UK to Zanzibar, or to Tanzania.

The most direct flights are from London – Heathrow (LHR). Some airlines fly from regional airports including Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Obviously flight prices vary according to which airline and time of year. At the very best, about £550.00 per person. At worst, about £850.00 per person during July/August and Xmas time. Price will be higher the later bookings are made. Our advice is that we book your flights as early as possible to get favourable flight prices.
The options to Zanzibar (ZNZ) are:

QATAR AIRWAYS – One of the most direct. Overnight flight to Doha with morning connection to Zanzibar. Relatively short transit in Doha in both directions. LHR – DOHA approx 6.5 hours and then DOHA to Zanzibar about 6 hours. Return flight departs Zanzibar late afternoon to Doha with relatively short connection time for flight to LHR arriving early morning. Qatar Airways have a good reputation. qatarairways
KENYA AIRWAYS – Overnight flights to Nairobi then morning connection to Zanzibar. LHR – NBO about 8.5 hours then 1.40 minutes NBO – ZNZ. Return flight departs Zanzibar at the very unsocial hour of 04.25 getting in to LHR the same evening. Transit in Nairobi in both directions. The LHR – NBO – LHR sectors are on relatively new Dreamliners. The shortest travel time, but often more expensive than other airlines. kenya
OMAN AIR – Late evening out of LHR to Muscat connecting on to Zanzibar arriving early afternoon. The return flight departs Zanzibar very early morning, transit in Muscat & in to LHR in the evening. LHR – Muscat approx 6.5 hours and then Muscat to Zanzibar about 6 hours. Usually well priced. oman
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES – Quite a long travel time as there are relatively long transit times in both directions at Addis Ababa. Evening departure from LHR to Addis Ababa with morning connection, via Kilimanjaro arriving ZNZ early afternoon. Return is out of ZNZ early afternoon to Addis Ababa then a long transit for the early morning flight to LHR. Ethiopian

Other airlines fly in to Dar es Salaam.

It does make for an additional transit, but gives a wider choice of airline. After going through entry formalities on arrival in Dar es Salaam (DAR) it is a 20 minute flight to Zanzibar.

EMIRATES – Overnight flight to Dubai with connection to DAR arriving early afternoon. Return is late evening out of DAR, connecting to LHR arriving early morning. Relatively short transit in Dubai in both directions. LHR – Dubai approx 6.5 hours and then Dubai to DAR about 6.5 hours. Emirates is a tried and tested brand. Emirates-Airlines-logo-vector
KENYA AIRWAYS – Travel time is longer, but flights with Kenya Airways to/from Dar es Salaam are sometimes less priced than in to/out of Zanzibar – even taking in to account the cost of the connecting internal flight DAR – ZNZ – DAR. kenya
QATAR AIRWAYSThe only airline which connects well for people going on to the Selous Game Reserve for their safari. Afternoon flight from LHR to Doha connecting to DAR with early morning arrival. Return flight is out of ZNZ so avoiding an internal flight to DAR. Relatively short transit in Doha in both directions. LHR – Doha approx 6.5 hours and then Doha to DAR about 6.5 hours. qatarairways
ETIHAD AIRWAYSNew route from 1 December 2015 – some good introductory offers. Overnight flight to Muscat with connection to DAR arriving early afternoon. Return is early afternoon out of DAR with quite a long transit in Muscat, arriving LHR early morning. LHR – Muscat approx 6.5 hours and then Muscat to DAR about 6.5 hours. etihad
TURKISH AIRLINES – For the budget traveller (as prices are usually the lowest) – the down side is very unsocial hours. Flights are via Istanbul, where there are reasonable transit times, but arrival in to DAR is at 03.00 – no lounges open so have to hang around the concourse until 07.00. Departure from DAR for the return is 04.00 – all lounges, etc, close prior to midnight, so on the concourse again. But often far less priced than other airlines. turkish
SWISS AIRWe very rarely use Swiss. Departure from LHR is 06.00 – so latest check-in 04.00 – transit in Zurich – arriving in DAR at 22.05. This means an overnight in Dar es Salaam before connecting on to Zanzibar, or Selous Game Reserve. Transit times in Zurich are very short so any delay to the incoming flight means missing the connecting flight. swiss

COLIN & ANNE GORDON

Posted on Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Dear Michael & Natalie,

HyenaWe just wanted to say thank you so very much for organising a completely wonderful trip. Everything you arranged happened as and when it should, no delays, no problems – it really was “seamless.”

Our safari was amazing, we were collected from the airstrip and transferred to the camp by boat, a super start, and it only got better – unable to make afternoon tea on our first day due to a herd of elephant on our path – fanatstic!

We saw an astonishing variety of birds and animals. Angela and all the staff at Rufiji were very friendly and welcoming, our guides (please forgive my spelling) Mtele and Hasanni were extremely knowledgeable and our masai guide Kotepu a comforting presence.

Zanzibar is beautiful. The Shooting Star Lodge is lovely, as are all the staff. Elly is charming, and Emilie is looking forward to seeing you in November. We must mention Murj, his happy smiling welcome down on the beach each morning was great.

zt-blog

What a treasure Alawi from GTI is, we did a tour of Stone Town and visited a spice farm with him, a real font of knowledge and excellent guide in a very interesting country.

This holiday exceeded all our expectations, you got every aspect just right.

Our sincerest thanks,

Colin & Anne Gordon

DAVID & LINDSAY McCOLLOM FROM VIENNA

Posted on Monday, July 13th, 2015

Dear Michael,

Thank you for following up with us about the trip. We had a truly marvelous time. What a wonderful place Zanzibar is! We had heard many good things about the island before our traveling there, but I must say that our expectations were exceeded.

The beaches are indeed as beautiful as they appear in photos; the food is outstanding; the people are incredibly friendly; and the culture and history are really interesting.

We were very satisfied with all aspects of the trip and already hope to visit Zanzibar again someday in the future.

Thanks for your assistance in planning the holiday. We will be glad to complete a (positive) evaluation form whenever it arrives in the mail.

Cheers,

David

The Sorensen family from Norway

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Dear Michael & Natalie

We have just arrived home a couple of hours ago. What a holiday!!!!! Many thanks for your help. Your experience was an important contribution to this success. Sultan Palace was paradise for us and Paola and her staff were fantastic. We enjoyed two days snorkeling on the reef in the blue lagoon. The children loved the Imperial suite and the food was excellent.

sorenson2

After such a good experience we wondered what to meet at Rufiji river Camp. It was as good as Sultan Palace. We enjoyed it very very much. The camp was nice, the staff veery nice, our guide Stephen from Ngorongoro was exceptional and Angela nice but a little bit stressed. The food was excellent and the games was unforgettable. We enjoyed both driving games, boat safari and walking safari. We love Impalas and Giraffes which there was hundreds of. We were lucky and got the opportunity to see a lot of different animals. Large herds of elephants and buffalos, not to mention all the crocks, hippos and lions.

sorenson

Stone Town and spice tour also was nice, but in comparison with Sultan Palace and Rufiji River Camp it is not what we will remember most. But it was a fine interception between those two. Personally I liked the airstrip at Rufiji River Camp. Full of baboons and Impalas and in the middle of the bush.

We have wonderful memories for the rest of our lives.

Many thanks

Martin

THE CARVED DOORS OF STONE TOWN

Posted on Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

door1“When I was a child living on Zanzibar I just assumed all houses had big wooden doors with metal studs in them.”
(Michael Sweeney of Zanzibar Travel)

It is only when I returned many decades later that I realised the significance, and beauty, of the Zanzibar doors which adorn houses and hotels in historic Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During your visit, no doubt you will take photographs of doors in their varies stages of neglect or restoration. It is worth having some idea of what they are all about, which I did not know until quite recently.

The larger and more elaborate the door, the greater the wealth, social significance and status of the owner who built the house. The intricate carving, usually surrounding the door, told passers by something about the trade of the owner of the house.

In those days there were no office blocks so business was transacted from the home of merchants and traders. For example, those in the slave trade would invariably have carvings of chains. Geometric patterns tended to indicate the owners were in the finance business, usually accountants or money lenders.

Carvings also have other symbolic significance, for example:

  • Flowers indicate it was a family home.
  • Rope and/or fish carvings indicated the occupant was in the fishing trade.
  • Vines – that the owner was in the spice trade.

There are 2 basic types/shapes of the wonderful Zanzibar doors:

  • Indian Doors. These can be identified by the arched shapes above the door, and the metal (usually brass) protruding spikes.
  • Arabic Doors. These are generally rectangular in shape, the carvings are often excerpts of scripts from the Quran, and/or indicating their trade or profession. These tend to have ornamental brass studs rather than spikes.

door2 door3

So, why do Indian doors have spikes?

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 16.03.39It is said they are to protect elephants pushing the door down and entering the house. But there have never been elephants on Zanzibar. The spikes replicate the doors of the houses they, or their forefathers, had left in India (where there are elephants) before making a new life on Zanzibar.

For those with a bit more time, and interest – one more thing to look out for.

You know how trades/professions today tend to gather in a similar place in the commercial centres of towns and cities around the world. High street banks are close to each other. Estate agents are close to each other. The same on Zanzibar centuries ago.

Different trades and professions gathered in distinct parts of Town. Look for similar carvings/symbols along one street, then another street will have a number of houses with carvings/symbols representing a different profession or trade.

When in Stone Town, look for a book on Zanzibar Doors at the excellent book and souvenir shop, The Gallery, on the corner of Kenyatta Road and Ghizenga Street.

These 2 are from our personal album.

door4

All Inclusive Specials

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2015

The Emerald Collection, members of ‘The Leading Hotels Of The World‘, manage two luxury hotels on Zanzibar.

Very attractive “specials” are being offered for stays throughout 2015 for bookings made by the end of May 2015. Prices exclude international flights.

DREAMS OF ZANZIBAR: 7 nights in a Deluxe Room on an All Inclusive basis for £550.00 per person which includes transfers from/to the Airport by our agent on Zanzibar.

doz

HIDEAWAY OF NUNGWI
: 7 nights in a Luxury Junior Suite on an All Inclusive basis for £670.00 per person which includes transfers from/to the Airport by our agent on Zanzibar.

hon

Contact us on 01242 222027 or email [email protected] for more information. Should you wish, we can combine a week at one of these luxury properties with other locations on the island.

Selous Game Reserve – The Hidden Gem

Posted on Thursday, April 30th, 2015

1

Mention the Serengeti, mention Ngorongoro Crater, mention Masai Mara and most people will recognise these names from things like “Big Cat Diaries” and many other wildlife programmes and articles.

Mention The Selous Game Reserve and most people will say “where?”

It is for just this reason we consider The Selous to be the hidden gem of East Africa – relatively unfound, so fewer camps/lodges, hence fewer vehicles/people – yet abundant with wildlife and birds.

The most vehicles we have encountered on our many game drives in The Selous is 3 – compared to, on one occasion in the Ngorongoro Crater, we were one of 19 vehicles viewing a lion kill of a zebra; in the Masai Mara there was a virtual traffic jam as word got around there was a leopard in the vicinity.

So, apart from the fact it is relatively uninhabited with visitors, why do we think it provides, probably, the most rewarding safari experience in East Africa?

  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest game reserve in Africa, 4 times larger than the Serengeti, giving a wonderful safari experience to the experienced safari goer as well as people taking a safari for the first time.
  • The Rufiji River, which runs through the park, means it has a wider variety of game and birds than most parks in northern Tanzania and Kenya.
  • Visitors have a wide range of activities including drive safaris, river safaris and guided walks. In other parks/reserves one tends to be vehicle bound.
  • There are 440 known species of birds, the largest population of wild dogs in the world and an amazing concentration of all game, particularly between July and October – but rewarding right through to March. We have seen lion on each of our visits to the Selous, as well as many herds of buffalo and giraffe (my favourite animal, so regal) eland, hyena, sable, hippo, crocodile, kudu, baboon, wildebeest, zebra, impala, hartebeest, colobus and vervet monkeys. Every one we meet on safari in Selous have sighted leopard – we have yet to see one – just one good reason to keep going back.

Add to these, and many other things, it is easily accessible from both Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar with a relatively short plane journey.

We book at camps located inside the Reserve which have good locations either on the banks of the River, or on the banks of a lake. There are lesser priced camps outside of the Reserve, but they tend to involve quite a long drive to get to the main concentrations of animals. The camps where we make most bookings are Selous Impala Camp, Rufiji River Camp and Lake Manze Tented Camp.

Courtesy Wikipedia:

The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest faunal reserves of the world, located in the south of Tanzania. It was named after Englishman Sir Frederick Selous, a famous big game hunter and early conservationist, who died at Beho Beho in this territory in 1917 while fighting against the Germans during World War I. Scottish explorer and cartographer Keith Johnston also died at Beho Beho in 1879 while leading a RSGS expedition to the Great Lakes of Africa with Joseph Thomson. The Selous was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature.

The reserve covers a total area of 54,600 km2 (21,100 sq mi) and has additional buffer zones. Within the reserve no permanent human habitation or permanent structures are permitted. All (human) entry and exit is carefully controlled by the Wildlife Division of the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Some of the typical animals of the savanna (for example elephants, hippopotami, African Wild Dog, cape buffalo and crocodiles) can be found in this park in larger numbers than in any other African game reserve or national park.

2

3

4

At the end of the day, take a seat and have a drink.

SUGGESTIONS FOR A SHORT SAFARI IN THE SELOUS AND TIME ON ZANZIBAR

Price from £1,435.00 per person (excludes international flights)

  • Early morning arrival in Dar es Selaam with Qatar Airways, met for transfer to the Domestic Terminal – 3 minutes. 10.45 Depart Dar es Salaam. 11.30 Arrive Selous Game Reserve – Mtemere Airstrip.
  • On arrival at the Selous you will be met by a representative from Rufiji River Camp for the short transfer to the Camp.
  • Rufiji River Camp for 3 x days/nights – En-suite tent. Your safari will be on a full board basis (excludes drinks) and includes Reserve and Conservation Fees. You will have a choice of excursions chosen from games drives, river safaris and guided walks. There is normally one excursion in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening. Full day game drives with picnic lunch are also available. Excursions are on a shared basis.
  • After 3 x days/nights transfer to the Airstrip for mid morning flight to Zanzibar. Met on arrival by our agent with exclusive us of a vehicle, driver and English speaking guide. Transfer to Flame Tree Cottages in the fishing village of Nungwi at the north of the island – approx 1 hour.
  • Flame Tree Cottages for 5 x days/nights. Double Room on a bed & breakfast basis. Flame Tree Cottages, set in tropical gardens, fronts on to the ocean. Located in this interesting fishing village, there are things to see/do in addition to relaxation. There are a choice of restaurants and bars for meals.
  • After 5 x days/nights, transfer by our agent to Stone Town.
  • Mizingani Seafront Hotel for 2 x nights. Presidential Suite on a bed & breakfast basis. Located in the heart of historical Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you have a chance to see the “real” Zanzibar.
  • On your last day our agent transfers you to the Airport for your return flight.

The price from £1,435.00 per person includes the safari with excursions, Reserve Fees, internal flights to Selous and back to Zanzibar, all accommodation as described and all transfers by our agent on Zanzibar. The price is based on travel mid January – end March and November to mid December.

A new terminal building is coming

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

zanz-airport

Passengers first view of Zanzibar

At the moment the current airport can either be:

  • off-putting to new arrivals on the island expecting similar standards to the airport they left in the “western”world; no carousel but luggage passed through a hole in the wall on to a wooden bench; no shops (though there are a couple of money change outlets); very limited toilet facilities
  • or it can be seen as a wonderful experience of airports of a bygone era (pre-carousel, pre expensive retail outlets, pre Dyson high powered hand driers, etc) and an introduction to Africa.

But all is about to change with a new terminal building due for completion in October 2015 – we will believe that date when we see it!! It is Africa, after all – though even in our “western” world we know that projected completion dates of major building projects are rarely achieved.

The intentions will not only provide passengers with better facilities, cope with an increasing number of passengers, but also to attract new airlines to inaugurate scheduled flights to Zanzibar making it more accessible to people from Europe, South Africa, the Indian sub-continent and beyond. At the moment only 3 international airlines fly in to Zanzibar; Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways and Oman Air.

The upgrading and extension will be able to cope with larger, and more, aircraft at any one time aimed at bringing more tourists to the island to fill the ever increasing number of beds as the new hotels continue to be built.

Over 80 per cent of the island’s foreign exchange earnings come from tourism, hence the Government’s desire to increase the number of visitors.

The extension of the runway has been completed. The new terminal is partly funded by The World Bank, but largely by a long term loan from the Chinese Government – another example of the continued Chinese investment in many parts of Africa.

Screen-Shot-2015-04-22-at-11.48

New terminal under construction

The project, started in February 2011, will provide the island with a truly “international” terminal, yes, carousels, retail outlets, modern toilets (I guess with Dyson power hand driers) spacious departure and arrival halls – but also better working facilities and equipment for an increased number of staff who will be employed.

Screen-Shot-2015-04-22-at-11.48

Impression of the new terminal building

Whilst the airport development will providers travellers with more comfortable arrival and departure facilities, will this be good for Zanzibar and its people?? Those who have an interest in the island and its people certainly hope it will. It will be of benefit if:

  • It will create more employment for local people staffing an enlarged airport.
  • Assuming it attracts more visitors it will increase the revenue to the Government of Zanzibar which imposes significant taxes on hotel occupancy – but will only benefit local people if this increased revenue is invested in, for example:
  • Improving the education system by increasing the number of schools, the fabric and facilities of existing schools, improving basic materials available for schools, improving teacher training and increasing the number of qualified teachers – and more.
  • Improving the health care system, the facilities at existing health care establishments, increasing the number and range of health clinics, recruiting more qualified health care staff – and more.
  • Improving the infrastructure of the island: electricity supply, roads, sanitation, housing – and more.
  • Those hotels experiencing higher occupancy, and new hotels to cope with an increased number of visitors, will recruit staff from the local communities – not only in menial positions but training local people to take on meaningful jobs.

At Zanzibar Travel, we do hope the improved airport facilities will benefit all passengers, not only tourists but travellers from the East African community , and be of a wider benefit to the people of Zanzibar.

~ Michael Sweeney

A return to Zanzibar after 11 years

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Shooting Star Lodge pool, our daughter loved it

Shooting Star Lodge pool, our daughter loved it.

Thank you very much for organising us a fantastic holiday in Zanzibar. As per our last visit to the island, everything went very smoothly and your local guys looked after us very well indeed!

We enjoyed re-visiting Nungwi in particular. There have been many changes in eleven years but it retains much the same atmosphere and Flame Tree Cottages was a perfect option for what we wanted. Seif and his team were great!

Shooting star was certainly a beautiful place and our room “with a view” was spectacular indeed. For our needs, it was a little too quiet as there wasn’t a great deal for a seven year old, but she did love that pool.

We had a lovely time and will be happy to recommend you to friends. The next time we contact you will be to do a safari before a shorter break in Nungwi again. We will look forward to it.

Thanks again! Regards,
Ian Cooke.

Zanzibar Travel Notes: In 2003 we booked a holiday for Ian & Kate – the cost was £1,762.00. In late 20014 their holiday cost was £3,651.00. Not all was inflation, this time their 7 year old daughter Matilda, traveled with them.

Leopard Sighting & a Dutch Smoker

Posted on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

“Yes we did see leopard and Michael has some wonderful photos that he sent to me, I am sure he won’t mind if I ask him to send them on to you. The sighting happened on our last day on safari. No leopard had been seen for over three weeks. We had been out in the morning and had seen a huge group of over 200 elephants along with Eland and Lesser Kudu. Lorenzo decided to try to find a pair of mating lions as a finale and we set out in pursuit. Half was along a track levant his colleague received a call from his mobile and Lorenzo hastily turned around and set off in chase… and at pace! I was hanging on for dear life in the back seat, having tucked away all my camera equipment. We arrived next to a large Baobab tree where Mark ( a fellow Englishman) and his guide and a group of Dutch in another vehicle were eagerly looking up at the tree. We could just make out the head and shoulders of the leopard and waited patiently for a better view.

We noticed that after a time the two Dutch couples were drifting off to sleep apart from one of the group who was evidently itching to smoke a cigarette! He had been warned by Steve, their guide, not to make any noises and by NO account get out of the vehicle. The Dutchman however decided to ignore his advice and got out for his “cigey” regardless! Steve screamed at him, the leopard got up and looked intently at the car and the Dutchman, now very worried looking, got back into the vehicle. We weren’t sure if the cat was going to pounce or scarper! Luckily it decided to choose the later and moved to the back of the tree. Fortunately it settled in a ‘v’ of the tree and we had excellent views for some time before the leopard decided to literally crawl down the tree, rear end first, then stroll away. Wonderful experience followed by a glass of champagne with mark and his guide watching an amazing show of lightening strikes in the distance. An experience I will never forget.”
Martin Gascoigne-Pees

leopard

Usambara Mountains

Posted on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

The “Switzerland of Tanzania”. Gentle trekking, spectacular views, rain forest, water falls, unspoiled. Accessible from Zanzibar. Contact us for more information.

Zanzibar and Muscat

Posted on Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

5 nights in Zanzibar, 4 nights in Muscat. Superior accomm- odation, all transfers & flights with Oman Air from £1,600.00 per person.

Zanzibar Action Project (ZAP)

Posted on Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Zanzibar Action Project (ZAP) do all sorts of good work in the village of Jambiani on the south east coast. ZAP is an English based charity. See what they have done and doing on www.zanzibaraction.co.uk where you can also make contributions.

Health Improvement Project Zanzibar

Posted on Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Health Improvement Project Zanzibar (HIPZ) is centered around the hospital in Makanduchi township on the south of the island. Founded by a surgeon from England in association with a doctor on Zanzibar, HIPZ has not only funded construction projects, but finds health workers from throughout the world to spend time at the hospital. See www.hipz.org.uk

Zanzibar Music Festival

Posted on Friday, June 7th, 2013

Zanzibar Music Festival (Sauti za Busara) is held annually in February. The aim is to bring together musicians from East Africa and beyond to appreciate the uniqueness, wealth & diversity of music from the region, to share this with the public and local musicians. See www.busaramusic.org

Oman Air

Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Now fly to Zanzibar via Muscat. Prices are competative and include an hotel overnight in Muscat on the return.

Top Tips

Posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Books and Postcards – “The Gallery” on the corner of Kenyatta Road & Ghizenga Street. Owned by the Jafferji Family. Lots of coffee table books with pictures by Javed Jafferji.

Clothing – “One Way” on the right as you go up past the Post Office in Kenyatta Road.

Ghizenga Street – The tourist shopping street for woodwork, metal work , Tinga Tinga paintings and general “tack”. We tend to avoid this street as the shopkeepers and other touts encouraging you to buy becomes a bit annoying.

Best Art Work – Go in to the Old Fort, turn right in to the large grassed courtyard and up stairs in the right corner to an art gallery. Much more imaginative and authentic than you will find in shops.

Best Woodwork – “Zanzibar Souvenir Shop” further back from the main shopping area. Just ask GTI to take you to the shop where Michael buys carved items. They use exclusively recycled timber.

Weddings on Zanzibar

Posted on Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Weddings on Zanzibar – Many hotels will organise weddings. There is quite a lot of administrative work involved, but the hotels will do most of this for the couple. Please contact us for further information.

Scuba Diving

Posted on Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The Indian Ocean surrounding Zanzibar is renown for its dive sites. It is our view that one of the most professional dive operators is One Ocean with dive centres in several locations. www.zanzibaroneocean.com

Kite Boarding

Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Kite Boarding – With shallow waters, sandy bottom and constant winds Zanzibar has become an outstanding destination for kite boarding. www.kitecentrezanzibar.com in the village of Paje on the south east coast was the first centre to be established in 2006.

Tides

Posted on Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Tides – Zanzibar, and the whole East African coast is very tidal so swimming in the ocean at low tide is limited. For information about tides at the time you may want to travel, see http://tides.mobilegeographics.com/locations/7156.html

Tatu

Posted on Sunday, April 21st, 2013

A new venture on the sea front in Stone Town between Africa House Hotel and Serena Inn. 1st floor is an “English Pub”, 2nd floor restaurant (quite expensive) and top floor is a “whiskey and cigar” bar with good sunset views.

More information at http://www.tatuzanzibar.com/

Sundowners

Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2013

The balcony bar at Africa House, written-up in most guide books as the place to be, gets very crowded, visitors even bussed in from beach locations! We tend to go to Serena Inn, drinks are more expensive, but much quieter, attentive service, and you normally get nibbles!

Mafia Island

Posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2013

An unspoiled “gem” south of Zanzibar. No large developments. Total relaxation.