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Recommendations from my own experiences in Tanzania and the paradise island of Zanzibar.
Everything you want from a perfect rustic safari can be found in this quiet jewel of Ruaha. The tents you stay in are spacious and comfortable; the food is exquisite and the staff are sincere, friendly and extremely knowledgeable and helpful. You are allowed to tailor everyday to your wishes from lazy days in the camp (along with the odd elephant/ buffalo visitor) to full blown all day adventures with bush lunches amongst awe-inspiring landscapes. If you want the true African experience free from concrete roads and a zillion people hustling to see one animal then I most definitely recommend Ruaha and the Mdonya Old River Camp! 5 Stars!
We took a risk in picking this resort for our beach stay week but it more than paid off! In contrast to the larger hotels our stay was quiet and peaceful. The bandanas were well decorated with their verandas and balconies, adorned with day beds and chairs, providing perfect retreats from the mid-day heat! The only negative thing I can say is the showers were often running cold. The pool area was lovely and staff were more than happy to serve coffee and cake to where ever you decided to take up residence be it pool side or beach. Lunch service was good, the prawn and avacado salad is HIGHLY recommended and the evening menu offered a good choice of local cuisine (always offering at least one catch of the day) though the best meal we had was when the chefs put on a fantastic BBQ! However at breakfast you are quite over faced with the largest plate of fruit I have ever seen and I always felt I was displeasing the staff when I then didn't want to order bacon, eggs, sausage etc. The hotel offered many fun activities including snorkling, tours of the island and the magnificent Jozani Forest (to see the mangroves and red colobus monkey) and spa treats in a secluded hut - I received a lovely manicure! My favourite moment however was during low tide when I took a walk about a mile out to see the coral reef - the water only came up to my knees - and a member of staff came out to join me giving an impromptu tour of the coral and it's creatures! Echo Beach was perfect for a quiet wind down after our Tanzanian safari!
For the last leg of our trip in Stone Town we picked this central hotel. Though we did get lost one night in the labyrinth that is Stone Town a local very kindly escorted us to our destination! The rooms were spacious, staff friendly and the roof top breakfast provided stunning views over the city. The coffee in the cafe was divine... the Iced Vanilla Latte is simply by far the best I have ever tasted and the smell of the cafe was a caffeine addicts dream. I loved the hotels layout with disjointed corridors, archways and hidden staircases... it was like something out of a childhood dream! Expect to be woken up early though by the call to prayer though I actually rather enjoyed listening to this, it is quite beautiful. This place exuded within its walls the whole feel and essence of Zanzibar, I think you would only understand if you go!
Whilst at Echo Beach we took a drive out to experience the wonders of this forest. It is a paradise and the red colobus were more than happy to show off and let visitors close. My favourite part however was the walk through the mangroves, beautifully eery! Any one who visits Zanzibar should give it a visit.
We took a drive around Zanzibar one day and came across this zoo near the Zanzibar Forest. The owner is trying to educate the locals by dispelling the local (often damaging to the animals) myths and is very appreciative of any support! The tour was enlightening and fun, the chameleons were amazing. If you spot it, don't drive past it!
Another attraction we spotted not far from the zoo. Staff were friendly allowing us to feed and hold the turtles making it a fun and interactive attraction. Not to be missed.
Great experience! Very informative staff led us on a wonderful tour while filling hand made baskets with various fruits and spices for us to sample. After you had the chance to buy some local produce including wonderfully fragrant soaps.
If you arrange with manager/staff of your place of stay they should be able to arrange for a tour guide to take you round the city. Tours generally include a glimpse of the market; tour of the church built over the old slave market and a visit to the Sultans Palace and House of Wonders. Our tour guide was very informative giving a comprehensive history of Stone Town right down to the history of different door designs (more interesting than it sounds!).
As a Queen fan this place was a must. Though after reading previous reviews we rightly decided not to order the dodgy looking food and instead settled for a drink and took in the Queen memorabilia and views over the port. Other places of interest for Queen fans include the Mercury House Gallery shop (advertising itself as a former residence of the Bulsara family with a plaque dedicated to Freddie Mercury) and Camlurs (just a bit further down the road from the shop).
We booked this restaurant for a Birthday meal and it certainly was a memorable night! When we arrived we were given the choice of sitting outside or staying inside where a local band was playing. We chose the cushions on the floor indoor option and were pleasantly surpirsed to meet in there an American student whom we met during the safari! The band and on the floor seating created a really down to earth (literally) atmosphere. The menu had plenty choices, service was efficient and the food was lovely! When I return to the island I will definitely be going back, especially if the band is there!
Africa House (if I remember rightly) is well known by tourists as the place to be to see the Zanzibar sunset. However we got a tip off to try Livingstones bar as apparently Africa House ends up crammed with tourists all fighting to get the perfect viewing spot. The risk worked! We ended up going both nights of our stay getting front row beach seats to watch the sunset and bathe in the lively Zanzibar atmosphere (one night we witnessed a ferry being loaded which was one of the most entertaining things I have ever seen - I think it was a 'you had to be there' moment). Food is your average bar food and the service is fine enough just watch when paying the bill when you get your change as one waitress did try to take a rather large tip...