Zanzibar, Tanzania

We decided to fly straight to Zanzibar instead of bussing back to Dar only to take the ferry. We wanted to avoid that place like the plague.

Zanzibar was a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of Tanzania. We decided to splurge for a few days at a nice resort to help recover from Arusha and put what happened in Dar behind us. The resort was beautiful! The beach was not the best because of lots of sea grass which meant lots of sea irchins but that helped with the snorkeling. We saw sea horses, starfish, an eel, and lots of colorful fish. Also when the tide was low we could sit in the shallow water and enjoy a drink. The food we had at the resort was an absolute treat and an adventure. We tried Marlin, chunga, and grilled octopus and squid which was literally the entire thing, tenticles and all! It was all delicious and affordable. Each plate was only $9. You would never get prices like that in the Midwest for good seafood. It was really nice to actually take a real vacation.

After a few days we moved down to Paje which is further south on the coast. The beach was beautiful but terrible for snorkeling. We spent the next couple of days bumming and walking around. We tightened up on the budget and bought our own food to make at our guesthouse. There was a family of cats that I tried to befriend at the guesthouse with no luck. One did let me touch her but barely.

After a bit of research we decided to take the train from Dar to Zambia so we moved to Stone Town for a couple of days. One day we visited Prison Island to see the giant tortoises and snorkle. The tortoises we’re actually really cool and unbelievably big. The snorkeling was ok but nothing to brag about. We also partook in the nightly grill out in the town square and had some awesome Zanzibar pizza and fresh squeezed juice! They also offered lots of different fish, octopus, and squid kabobs at other booths. The place was covered with cats! I mean there was probably close to 100 there and most relatively healthy looking. It was unreal!

While in Stone Town we attempted to make reservations online. Unfortunately, they don’t use email and had to call only to find out that to train was booked for that week but available for the following Friday… That was 10 days away. We went back and forth about spending the 10 days on the beach or just flying for a much higher cost. Ultimately, the beach won and we made our reservations before heading back to Paje.

Back in Paje I had one goal and that was to befriend the kitten of the family living at the guesthouse and John’s goal was to find snorkling we didn’t have to pay for. First we went to Michamvi which was a bust. We did see some sea slugs and an eels head coming out of the sand… Made me nervous walking just thinking about what’s in the sand. We also saw a monkey running away from us on the beach. On the way back we stopped and observed the famous rock restaurant which was a shack on a big rock barely off shore. Our second attempt was in Dungwe which was a success! We found a reef with tons of beautiful fish and we were able to swim out to where the boats took paying customers. I’m pretty sure they fed the fish because there were schools upon schools of different fish. The coolest thing we saw was a school of 6 squid swim around! I always thought they were deeper but these were swimming just below the surface.

Meanwhile, I was working my way closer to the little kitten and by the time we left it was purring and sleeping on my lap. I thought she was way to skinny so I bought a couple eggs to cook and feed her.

The tide is crazy in Zanzibar! When it was low tide you could literally walk out at least a mile and the water would only be at mid thigh. Night walks were fun during low tide. We got pretty good at catching shrimp. We also spotted an octopus! We tried catching it but it’s suckers would freak us out when they got ahold. It was one of the coolest sea creatures I have ever seen. The instantaneous color change that they are capable of doing is incredible.

Ultimately, it was not a bad way to waste a week. We returned to Stone Town for one night and then left the next morning for Dar. Sadly, we needed a few days there to get things done and make prepreations for the train. Our last night in Stone Town was crazy! We went back to the town square for dinner and the place was BUSY! It was the end of Ramadan and everyone was out celebrating. We got some food and some fresh squeezed sugar cane and people watched for a few hours.

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