As we drove from the north coast of Zanzibar to the capital ‘Stone town’ on the western coast, taking about 2hours. Waving goodbye to the beach front, laid back paradise we had recently been enjoying. Now facing White washed houses and a maze of narrow streets and winding alleyways waiting to be explored. Filled with colourful, bustling bazars and hawkers selling goods, there was a strong smell of spices was everywhere you went. You soon got used to it; this indicated why they call it the ‘Spice Island’. Stone Town is a city of prominent historical importance, mostly dating back to the 19th century, with such diverse influences underlying Swahili culture with a mix of Arab, Indian, Persian and European elements. The town is now a designated ‘UNESCO world heritage site’. It truly deserves it too.
We stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of the town with a nice pool, but we spent hours just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of streets, haggling for artwork and wooden carvings. Getting lost was a must, stopping for a drink to quench our thirst and a snack to shelter from the hot midday sun in many of the quirky bars. It was approx. 30c during September when we visited. It didn’t take long to realise this place is seriously cool! There are plenty of sheek café’s to read a paper or enjoy a coffee. There were no cars or traffic, it was all bikes. I’m sure this is down to the streets being too narrow.
After dark we went looking for a restaurant but got caught up in the Forodhani Gardens, a park near the seafront located by the old fort. It was a busy market, selling all sorts of zanzibari dishes from grilled seafood to Ethiopian curry. It smelt delicious and we wanted to try everything, I think we did actually, ha. Far better than sat in a restaurant this place was cultural, friendly and cheap!
We found some quirky cool bars; one was above the Africa House Hotel. I remember was like something out of James bond. Upstairs off the street, Luxurious furniture, smartly suited staff serving amazing cocktails in coconuts overlooking the ocean watching the sunset this a was perfect setting.
A mystical and exotic place which like minded adventurers will love….