Paradise Days in Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi was our second stop on our Zanzibar trip. We spent our days mostly swimming, sun bathing by the pool, sipping some local beer and eating delicious local food. Usually, when we travel, we are all in for exploring the new place but, this was different with Nungwi. We were in a relaxing mode, staying put and enjoying the beach life.  There were many places which arrange day trips to surrounding islands and water sports activities on request. But since we decided to relax, we weren’t swayed to try most activities, except Jet Skiing, which was a new water sport for us both. We also visited the turtle aquarium where there were about 30 green sea turtles swimming around. You can also swim and feed the turtle seaweeds.

Nungwi beach has quite several vendors and not that many people. Sometimes the beach boys also can be destructive, as they take any opportunity to sell their products. However, the white sandy beaches are immense and the clear blue water of the ocean. In Nungwi, its easy to find a secluded spot to sun bask. This was the clearest, bluest water we had ever seen. The water was amazing, clear enough for us to see many fish swimming around. There are more than enough beach restaurants around Nungwi. Finding fresh seafood is never an issue.

During the high tide, it is difficult to stand in the water because, of strong waves and strong winds. But during the day, the waves will be relaxed. It is the perfect time to take a walk on the fine white sand, gazing the blue waters.

Our ultimate experience was when we visited ESSQUE ZALU HOTEL. Up to now all I can say is WOW!!! The resort was extremely beautiful, with a stunning view over the lagoon and enormous jetty stretching into the sea. We automatically knew, we had to spend some time there. At every turn, there is something nice to marvel at. It had a huge infinity swimming pool overlooking the beach and jetty with a long dock. We had my candle light birthday dinner, at Essque Zalu Hotel under the stars, with sound of the ocean. It was a very romantic dinner, which ended with the most heartfelt engagement. While I was walking on the bridge, admiring the view, the sound of the ocean, the resort, when I turned, I saw my fiancé on one knee asking me for a hand in marriage…Its was a very beautiful moment. One I could never forget. All I can is that, I will never forget my Zanzibar Holiday, the Nungwi Sunset and Sunrise…Take me back

General Tips

Location: Approximately 50km from Stone Town

Taxi Fees: USD$45-60 its easier to have your hotel/lodge assist you with bookings

Dala Dala: 2000 Shillings/ $1USD depends on the rate of the day but Frequent Stops

Jet Skiing: Depends on the time you want to rent it out

Turtle Aquarium: USD $10

 

 

 

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Day 2: Prison Island & Nakupenda Island Tour

In the morning, we board the dhow and set sail towards Prison Island located in Changuu Island. It was just the two of us and the captain after negotiating for a favourable price.  The Prison Island is a place where slaves were detained before being sent to Europe or Middle East then served as a quarantine for yellow fever. This is a 25-30 minutes dhow ride from Stone Town

We reached Prison Island where there was a view of stunning array of coloured corals and tropical starfish of the islands. There is also a rustic wooden bridge that stretches a few meters above the water, jetting out into the sea. It’s just beautiful! On the other side of the island is a refugee of sea tortoise. We only stayed at Changuu Island for an hour and headed for Nakupenda Island so we could have plenty of time independent time to enjoy beautiful Nakupenda Beach.

Nakupenda in Swahili means ‘I LOVE YOU’. This beach is also known as the ‘Sand bank’ or ‘Hidden Beach’ because it appears and disappears with the tide. You can get sea food lunch from the Island, or plan with your tour guide prior to leaving Stone Town. This is a great place if you want to propose kikikiki. By the time we left at 3pm the beach was already disappearing. How amazing is creation!!!

General Tips

$45-60 USD for a round trip to Prison Island, Nakupenda then back to Stone Town.

$4 USD for the island entrance fees.

 

 

 

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Exploring Stone Town

We unpacked our bags at Maru Maru Hotel and decided to take a walk around town. Firstly, we passed through the Old Fort, it was free of charge. What we found most intriguing about Stone Town was how rich the culture and history was. Walking through the narrow streets of Stone Town, we saw dozens of bazaar shops on Khanga Street showcasing African textiles, bags and clothes and decided to purchase matching tank tops written ‘Hakuna Matata’ meaning no worries in Swahili. You can pick a few souvenirs. We reached Darajani market area where one can buy food products such as fish, meat, vegetables and finally the spice section. The most fascinating part of spices other than seeing different types, was learning the medicinal benefits. We finally understood why Zanzibar is referred to as ‘The Spice Island’.

Around 5pm we decided to visit the Old Slave Market Museum, a place where human beings were reduced to mere commodities and brutalized without compassion. It was heart-breaking learning about not so long-ago history. When we entered the slaves chambers I could not imagine how much the slaves had to endure.

There is also an Anglican church built at the old auction place, full of symbolism. The Cathedral’s altar stands on the location of the whipping post, as a depiction of redemption and restitution. We also saw the monument build by Clara Sonas, which shows five slave figures, chained together in the pit. The chains on these figures, are real chains from the era of Slave Trade. Access to the Slave Trade Museum and Church is $5 USD for non-local residents.

After the slave trade market, we visited the Forodhani Gardens to try the local delicacies and dishes made by the market vendors. We really wanted to try out the Zanzibar Pizza, after reading good reviews about it. There were several stalls to choose from, so it’s best to walk around the whole market before you commit to buy at one place. A tip is to eat where you find a lot of locals or a long line, sometimes the seafood is not always fresh. Don’t leave Stone Town without visiting Foradhani gardens at night.

We went to sleep, after a long day of travelling and exploring.

General Information:

Access to Slave Market Museum- $5

Visit Forodhani Gardens in the evening- Meals range from $5 going up

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Zanzibar, 2018

DAY 1: ARRIVING IN ZANZIBAR

After discussing with my best friend Tapiwa for a few months on how much we wanted to visit Zanzibar, we found cheap flights to Dar es Salaam and we began to plan our getaway. It was all chuckles and happiness as we boarded Rwanda Airlines from Zimbabwe to Dar es Salaam via Rwanda. The thought of going to discover a new place was thrilling.

We arrived in Dar es Salaam at 5am, and we had two options whether to take the ferry or the flight. We opted to take the ferry to Stone Town. There were sales representatives for Precision Air outside the airport who were offering flights to Zanzibar at an affordable rate. However, after reading a few blogs on flight delays we opted to take the ferry. The ferry port is a 15 minute drive from the airport and you can negotiate with taxi drivers. We paid $15.

We used Azam Marine Ferries, which is the company I recommend. It is advisable to buy your ticket at an official ticket office or online in advance because sometimes the ferries will be full, and you must wait for a few hours for the next ferry. Being a foreigner, means you pay your ticket in US Dollars. You must show your passport when purchasing the ticket. We bought our return tickets the day we arrived, after being warned that the ferry could be full on the day of departure. Your luggage will be placed in a cage, be sure to remember the cage number for pick up of your bag when you get to Stone Town.

If you are lucky you could spot some dolphins on your way to Stone Town, if you take the morning ferry.

After hours of travelling, FINALLY, WE MADE IT ZANZIBAR…YEYY!!!

When we got off the ferry, and headed straight towards the terminal. They first checked our yellow fever cards, which is a requirement when travelling to Tanzania. We got into the passport queue to get our passport stamped. After the immigration procedure, we collected our bags and we headed out of the terminal.

Our accommodation was a walk away from the ferry port, and we used Sygic Maps to navigate our way. This application can be found on Apple Store or Google Play. We had also booked our accommodation on https://www.booking.com/ , we just read the reviews most times when deciding.

How to get to and from Zanzibar

Ferry Prices: $40 business class ticket/$35 economy ticket

Ferry Times: 7am, 9:30am, 12:30pm and 4pm

Travel Time: Approx 2hours

Advanced Ticket Website: https://azammarine.com/

Air Ticket from Dar es Saalam to Zanzibar- $65/Travel Time 20mins (according to the Precision Air sales representative we met at the airport)

 

 

 

NB: We also changed our money at the airport, it was interesting to find out that higher denominations of USD ie; $50 and $100 had a higher rate than $1,5,10 and 20 (see attached picture of the rates at that day). I found it cheaper to use Shillings than US dollars. However, prices are normally quoted in both shillings and US dollars in Zanzibar. There also want new notes from 2010. You can check the image attached for the other currencies they accept at the bureau de change. 

 

Day 3: A day in Rhodes National Parks

 

  • Nyangombe Falls

On our last morning the weather promised clear skies, so we decided we would drive to the falls and take a swim. We could not leave Nyanga without touring the Rhodes National Parks, to see the Nyangombe Falls, and Natural Pool. We checked out at 10am from Zumbane Lodges and drove to Udu Lodges, and paid our national park fees. We were given two guides to escort us as the cases of theft have increased. From the lodge to Nyangombe falls, it was a distance of 6,5kilometres, again the road was not in good condition.

When I jumped out of the car I could hear the thunder of the waterfalls, I felt so much peace. We took a short hiking trail of 300 meters to get to the falls from the car park. As we got closer and closer to the waterfall, the noise from the plunging waterfall increased, and I became more hyped up. The Nyangombe cascading falls are set on a mountainous area with fresh air and rolling stones. There is a myth that if you wash your face with this water, it retards the growth of wrinkles. The water from the falls was cold, although some decide to swim, I decided not to, the water volumes were high and the rocks looked treacherously wet. But of course to avoid wrinkles on my face, I washed it (Laughs). Nyangombe Falls spills naturally over steep blocks before levelling out into a dense gorge. I can safely say that Zimbabwe is a country with beautiful natural waterfalls. Nyangombe Falls is a must see. Although not as high as Mutarazi Falls, it is worth visiting. It provides the perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Nyangombe Natural Pool

We left the falls, and headed for Rhodes National Parks. We produced the receipt we had paid at Udu, and the boom was opened for us without waiting in the long queue. At the Rhodes National Parks Office we were given guidance on the tourist attractions we could see. Nyangombe River was the first place we went to. This river flows down the rocks into a natural pool with a sandy area. This is locally known as the Brighton Beach. The water is free from bilharzia and is safe to swim. I felt it was safer to swim in Nyangombe Natural Pool as opposed to Nyangombe Falls. The area had a picnic braai area, changing rooms, clean toilets and a parking lot. We did not stay for a long time, because we were now running out of time, and still needed to drive to the Trout Hatchery which was the opposite direction.

  • Trout Hatchery

The trout hatchery near Purdon Dam provides an up-close view of the source of game fish stocked in many of the Park’s rivers and dams

 

Facts:

How to get there

  • 3 hour drive from Harare

From Rusape follow the Nyanga road for 90 kilometers and turn right at the Main Park entrance

When to go

  • All year round although it is chilly in winter
  • Monday to Sunday 8:00am to 4:30pm

Pricing

  • National Parks Entry Fees- $5 per person $3 per light vehicle

NB: The fees gives you access to the parks the whole day, just keep the receipt

Modes of Payment: Ecocash, Swipe, Cash

 

What to take with you?

Water

Camera

Comfortable Shoes

Hat

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2: Worlds View Nyanga Eastern Highlands

On the 2nd day we started our day at 10am and headed to the Worlds View which is located on the Northern edge of Nyanga National Park. From Nyanga town, you take a left turn as if you are going to Troutbeck. You will see a sign written Worlds View and take the left turn, which is an 11km track from Troutbeck. Most of the tourist sites in Nyanga have roads that are in bad conditions especially when it rains. On this particular day, it was drizzling, and the road was muddy. Luckily for us we were using a 4WD. We paid an entry fee of $2 per person.

As soon as we parked our car I noticed a building that looked like a tower. This was were the view point with the famous topo scope which shows the direction and distance of thirty well known places in Africa that are engraved on black granite stone was located. From this point you have a 270 degree view, affording a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. I did not get the chance to climb to the highest point in Zimbabwe as it was now heavily raining. This is approximately 2,300 meters, across the hill almost a kilometer below.

The site is maintained by the National Trust of Zimbabwe, a coverage of 70 hectares. The grounds are clean and there are picnic benches, however you have to bring your own food and beverages because they do not sell them. Close to the picnic benches is a stone art gallery with hundreds of sculptures were you can meet the local artists and buy their work.

Afterwards, we drove to Troutbeck Resort to grab lunch and warmed ourselves on the log fire in the reception area before we left for Zumbane Lodges were we were residing.

Facts:

How to get there

  • 3 hour drive from Harare
  • Take the trout beck turn off
  • 11km up a winding, steep road from Troutbeck – follow the signposts.

 

When to go

  • All year round although it is chilly in winter
  • Monday to Sunday 8:30am to 5:30pm

Pricing

  • Entry Fees- $2

Modes of Payment: Ecocash and Cash

News Years Holiday in Eastern Highlands

Conray once said “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey”, New Year’s 2017 in Nyanga will definitely be a beautiful memory to be replayed in my mind”.

Day 1: Mutarazi Falls Experience

My family and I decided to get out of Harare for the New Year’s weekend and head to this recuperating destination. The journey took us approximately 5 hours, as the road to the falls is not a good road, most of the parts are gravel. I would recommend you use a four wheel drive or a high clearance vehicle with different lock features when. Depending on the time of the year, the road can be slippery and muddy, in the case of rains. Mutarazi Falls is on record the longest falls in Zimbabwe about 762metres and comes second in Africa after the Tugela Falls in South Africa. The Mutarazi Falls is one of the world’s most beautiful natural places to visit.

The drive was long but, very scenic with beautiful positioned pine trees that could be seen in the mountains and level ground. The other trees formed a rectangle shape while others formed a triangle shape, all planted by The Wattle Company. We got to a boom gate were we had to pay national park entry fees, and travelled about 300 meters to reach the Mutarazi Falls car park where we were welcomed by the Far and Wide team who were coordinating the activities, zip line and skywalk.

We were directed to follow a trail through the shady forest before arriving at the point of activities where there were with spectacular views of the Honde Valley area and Mutarazi Falls. There were two skywalk bridges across the gorge, stretching lengths of 70 and 90 meters, respectively. The bridges are made from planks and rope which provides an adrenaline rush while viewing the gorge and the falls. While I was standing in the middle of the bridge, I got a clearer view of the most scenic mountains of Honde Valley and Mutarazi Gorge. The scenery was beautiful beyond description. Walking the bridge took about 15 minutes.

To add to the list of adrenaline activities, there is a 400 meters long zip line which flies from one edge of the gorge to the other. The zip line is the longest in Africa and among the world’s longest zip lines. My mother was very scared for me to do the zip line but, I had to confront my fears before 2018. I am generally scared of heights but on this particular day I told myself I was going to conquer my fears or else I would regret not challenging myself. When I got to the edge of the gorge I felt victory, I was really proud of myself, so was my mother and sister who were cheerleading me.

This is a great experience. I recommend anyone to take part in the Far and Wide activities.

Facts:

How to get there

  • 5 hour drive from Harare

Check the Far and Wide website for directions

When to go

  • All year round although it is chilly in winter
  • Monday to Sunday 9:00am to 4:00pm

Pricing

  • National Parks Entry Fees- $5 per person $5 per light vehicle

NB: The fees gives you access to the parks the whole day, just keep the receipt

  • Skywalk $40
  • Zipline $60

Modes of Payment: Ecocash, Swipe, Cash