The Spice Island

My wake up call was the prayers from the nearby mosque filling the air – much gentler than my usual alarm clock.
Breakfast was on the arabesque style roof terrace of the Zanzibar Coffee House hotel, which afforded 360 degree views of Stone Town’s labyrinth of narrow streets.
I enjoyed a cappuccino complete with coffee art, mini chocolate muffins fresh from the oven and heart shaped waffles generously doused with syrup – yummy!

zanzibar coffee house hotel

No visit to Zanzibar is complete without learning about the spices which the island is famous for, so we headed to Sisso Spice Farm for a spice tour, fruit tasting and drinks which was fabulous!

There was loads to take in, so I’m just sharing a couple of things I was really interested in… The ‘lipstick plant’ has a rich terracotta red colour inside which is used for traditional body painting (Masai) or as a dye.

sisso farm spice tour lipstick plant

I was surprised to find out that the vanilla plant is a parasite that attaches itself to trees and after a number of years eventually kills them – how can this good stuff be so bad! And like tea, peppercorns all come from the same plant but are harvested at different times for green, black and white pepper. A gem of a tip we were given is that lemongrass keeps the mossies away if rubbed on to your skin.

Our guide picked and ate fresh lychees from the tree with us; the green are much sweeter than the red-skinned variety and we also got to eat fresh star fruit. We were shown how the pickers get the fruit from the trees, one of the men scaling a tall palm in a matter of seconds and bringing down a coconut with a thud.

Sat down, we drank the most delicious Coconut water straight from Coconuts cut open in front of us and then ate the soft flesh, sampling fresh and juicy Grapefruit and Mandarin which they also grow. Finally, we finished off with a sweet Lemongrass tea (herb and sugar) and a lovely Masala tea – it seems there is another use for it other than in curries!

Absolutely stuffed with fruit, our parting gifts were a headress each and necklaces made of the leaves of palm trees – just beautiful; cleverly and perfectly woven. I definitely recommend a spice tour.

We travelled to Matemwe on the east coast, checking in at the beachside Vila Kiva Boutique Hotel. It looked lovely and had a private pool, beach, hammock and entrance to the main (unfortunately seaweed-ridden) beach.

vila kiva boutique hotel matemwe

From my big room I could see the sea, plus the Italian manageress’ pet monkey in a nearby tree!
pet monkey
Walking up and down the beach to explore food and drink options at other resorts, the local kids were delighted to see us and followed us along the beach, helping me collect a few nice shells along the way.

We chose Seles Bungalows just next door which had lots of seafood options, amazing cocktails, a great atmosphere and inviting decor. I had Sex on the Beach (minus a straight face!) and one of the best Piña Coladas I’ve ever had. Talk about a nice way to end the day!

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