We left Jambiani and grabbed a taxi from the son of one of the chefs at the local restaurant. They said they could offer us it for $30USD and the lodge was offering for $40USD so it seemed like a good deal. The journey took over 1 hour and I was so car sick as it was over 30 degrees, bumpy and windy the entire way…it was horrible. Backtracking slightly for budget purposes, for 4 nights in Jambiani in our beach front bungalow with breakfast, 2 nights dinner in the lodge, drinks and 2 nights at local restaurants it cost us $600NZD which is incredibly reasonable considering the time of the year and the location, so we were pretty pleased overall.
Now, back to my incredible car sickness – it was horrid, but we arrived in Stone town safely and were dropped at a car park nearby the main centre of town. Being a UNESCO world heritage site, you can’t drive in the CBD. 1 because there are no roads and 2 because the small pavement type streets they have are filled with vendors, children playing, small fruit stalls and motorbikes trying to plow you down (very similar to Marrakech)
We finally navigated our way to our Hotel – Spice Palace’ and it was like walking from a disaster into a kingdom! The streets there are narrow with a lot of harassing vendors always willing to ‘help’ you but for a price and when we walked through the doors of Spice palace, instantly the sweat started to evaporate and the hot sweaty mess that I had become slowly disappeared. Treated to an ice-cold hibiscus juice and welcomed by 3 lovely staff we knew we had picked the right place. Not cheap mind you at $80NZD a night but was it worth it to be comfortable and safe? Yes.
So, Stone Town is the oldest part of Zanzibar City. It is also known as Mij Mkongwe, which is Swahili for ‘Old Town Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. it is known for its rich cultural heritage of Arab, Persian, Indian, and European elements and from what I had read online, looked like a cool place for a couple of nights to end our Zanzibar experience.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great for us while here and it rained a lot, but we still managed to explore as much as we could in the patches of nice weather (while trying not to melt in the 37 degree heat with 90% humidity – Yikes, I literally sweated through clothes)
A few things we have done over the past 2 days is eat and drink in some questionable restaurants but also 1 great spot where we stopped to try the spiced coffee (a traditional coffee here made with cardamom, cinnamon and ginger – delicious). We chilled by the pool a lot and I worked out a heap as we are starting Kilimanjaro in just a couple of days! I am gradually getting more and more apprehensive!
A few other must do’s would be visiting the dock at sunset to watch the local kids bomb, dive and have competitions to see who could jump the furthest off the sea wall – it was excellent! We also loved just walking around the city exploring all the small alleyways, stalls, local vendors and the doors! My goodness, one of the most charming things about Stone town is the doors! No description of Stone Town could be complete without a mention of the famous Zanzibar doors. These massive teak or mahogany structures grace the front of almost every building of note, and their style has been copied all over the world. According to what we read, the original Zanzibar doors owe their distinctive brass studs to India - the studs originated as a defense against war elephants, used to batter down fortified doors in the tribal wars of Punjabi history. There are so many around the city and make for the perfect Instagram worthy shot!
It is also the home of Freddy Mercury so this was an absolute must for any Queen fan to get a photo in front of the doorway to his house...and it's free!
There are so many amazing things to do in Stone town and with more time, patience and money we would have certainly explored more but the past 2 days have been about refreshing, doing a washing for our clothes and just getting well rested before the start of this next adventure. We would however give Stone town a big 8/10 and it is MUCH cheaper than Jambiani and the surrounding beaches.
Zanzibar is now over, which can only mean 1 thing... WE ARE OFF TO CLIMB THE SUMMIT OF KILIMANJARO!!!