zanzibar ferry

Stone Town in Zanzibar

From Dar es Salaam we took the fast ferry over to Zanzibar, a smooth 1.5hr trip to Stone Town. Steeped in history, we walked past the beautiful and ornate building of The Old Dispensary just past the ferry terminal, in front of the weathered Old Fort and wandered into the labyrinth of small streets making up Stone Town.

Stone Town

We checked into Zanzibar Coffee House hotel, which is said to have some of the best coffee around (and the pastries look like they are to die for). The rooms are all named after coffee; Espresso, Macchiato, Caterra and has a boutique feel with moorish decor. I felt a bit conscious of my too short shorts, especially over Ramadan, so I changed into some light trousers and headed out for lunch.

The House of Spices is a terrace restaurant, again with beautiful decor from the rich, jewel blue wash on the walls in the stairwell to the beautiful wooden spice cabinet next to the back wall of the restaurant. We had some truly delicious food, all freshly cooked.
House of Spices restaurant
The afternoon was whiled away strolling through the maze of market streets, haggling for goods in the Medina-like shops and exploring, wandering along Livingstone beach at one point. It’s just lovely, with the soft sandy beach extending round a sharp curve along the edge of the island – it felt so very open.

Emerson Spice Hotel looked really nice but was fully booked, so they recommended Africa House Hotel for cocktails just around from the beach. The hotel was gorgeous; so luxurious I felt like I was dirtying it just by walking through in my dusty, casual clothes. Sat on the open terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean, we drank cocktails watching the sun set on the horizon.
africa house hotel zanzibar sunset
After nightfall, we visited the lamp lit food markets on the Forodhani Gardens lawn, in front of the House of Wonders. We had thought we might get some good seafood there, but there seemed to be flies all over the food!

garden food market

Instead, we plumped for The Silk Route Indian restaurant just down the road past the Old Fort. The meal was incredibly tasty and the restaurant was busy all evening – a good sign. This restaurant also had gorgeous decor; glass mosaic wall pieces and a colourful mix of fabrics including leopard print suspended from the ceiling, creating a tent roof.

On our way back to the hotel, locals had broken fast for the day and on some of the narrow streets, women sat together under street lighting, cooking pancakes on small stoves. Whole local communities were out and I really enjoyed witnessing a genuine part of their daily Ramadan routine.

A tip: if you want to find your hotel in the maze of market streets after nightfall (when it’s quiet, dark and looks completely different), save a Google map of the area offline, with your hotel pinpointed on it and your phones GPS will locate you in relation to the hotel.

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