Jane & Christopher Castle

It is now some months since we returned from the wonderful holiday you organised which truly exceeded our expectations.

Having negotiated the “interesting” vagaries of the Airport (no baggage carousel here, just neatly stacked cases and our choice of patterned blue cases made the job of finding them easy) we were transferred to Mizingani Seafront Hotel, our room on the 3rd floor had the most wonderful views over the ocean and port. Between excursions the courtyard swimming pool was much appreciated.

There was so much more to do than we anticipated, helped greatly by Alawi from GTI, your agent on the island. A polite, punctual, knowledgeable, informative man. He took us on a guided walking of Old Stone Town, through the labyrinth of narrow streets where we learned about the intricately carved wooden doors, the history of key buildings and about the mix of people that have built up the population over the centuries. We chose to visit the exhibition of the slave trade and went on to experience the sights and smells of the market too.

After a break for some lunch, Alawi met us again to take us to Prison Island, a half hour boat trip from Town. The island has served various functions; a prison, an isolation area for contagious diseases, and during Colonial times the Government Guest House was available to senior British officials to spend weekends with friends and families. The giant tortoises, thought to have been brought from Mauritius and reputably over 300 years old.

One evening we had booked a meal at the Tea House restaurant at Emerson On Hurumzi Hotel and knew to get there early to see the sunset. There’s quite a climb up to the top but the view over Stone Town and out to sea is wonderful. The sunset did not disappoint! Throughout the meal, we were gently led through a cultural story by the waiters, music, dance and the food. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable evening.

It was an early start to get to the airport for flights to Selous Game Reserve staying at Rufiji River Camp. We arrived before 9:30 and were straight out on a drive. The temperature was perfect. Not too hot and a bit of a breeze when in the jeep. We had the head guide, Frank, to spot the animals and he did an amazing job, finding us a pride of 12 lions with cubs that walked within feet of the jeep. We enjoyed the variety of drives and boat safaris especially eating breakfast or lunch in the bush after setting out early for the day.

The tents were large and clean and the main camp area had beautiful views over the River Rufiji, perfectly positioned to see the sun go down over the distant hills. The food was tasty and there was a choice of main evening meals to suit us both. Electricity was only on at certain times of the day so a power pack is handy for charging batteries. We were sad to leave the beauty and remoteness of the camp. A rare window of blissful time with no internet or television.

It’s great to be with a person who loves their job and the pilot flying us out of the reserve was one of them. He couldn’t help sharing his love of flying and thankfully we do too, as the small planes are an experience!

Alawi again met us at the airport and transferred us to Kendwa where we were staying at The Gold Zanzibar Hotel. It was interesting to see the real Zanzibar en route and made us realise how the majority of Zanzibaris are living.

Gold Zanzibar Beach House & Spa is a comfortable, beautifully manicured hotel on a fabulous beach.

The rooms are large if a little unusual with the painted concrete bed surround, floor and bath.

We were able to relax on the best sunbeds we had encountered anywhere and indulge in our books and watching the world go by.

There was a buffet style meal for all inclusive guests which was good, with lots of dishes being freshly cooked for you but it did become a little monotonous after a few days. We did eat at the à la carte restaurant for one evening where the food was delicious.

The hotel is working with the local community to improve the education provision and local maternity and paediatric services. They do a weekly walk with guests to the village to see the hospital and school. Had we known this prior to our trip, we would have certainly packed some resources to give to the school which was operating with very little.

Sadly, all holidays come to an end and we have to return to work to save up for the next adventure. We would have no hesitation in using Zanzibar Travel again and I have already started dreaming of where might be our next destination.

Jane & Christopher Castle – Felixstowe – Travelled in July 2017