The Christmas days were over and we felt so excited to finally start our world trip. Of course leaving your family and friends behind is not always easy, but this is all part of chasing our biggest dream.
The first destination was Zanzibar, Tanzania. The minute we arrived at our accommodation, we immediately felt at home. As we had such a great time, we would like to share our story on how you can have the best local experience yourself while traveling to Zanzibar.
Where to stay?
We were staying in Jambiani, which is an authentic fisherman’s village in the south-eastern part of Zanzibar. While many people know Zanzibar as a bounty island with many resorts, Jambiani is actually quite “undiscovered” compared to the most touristic place called Nungwi, in the north of Zanzibar. So, in order to get the best local experience, we definitely recommend to stay in Jambiani.
When traveling, delving into the cultures is what really excites us. For this reason, we stayed at a local family house called: Mau’s place. Mau is a very friendly guy that has a passion for making tourists part of his family. Mau brought us in contact with his friends, that soon became our friends as well. Every day, they brought us to places that we would have never discovered ourselves.
Staying at Mau’s place is very affordable as well. We paid around 18 USD a night for two persons. It is incredible what is being offered for this small amount of money. Every morning a delicious fresh breakfast was prepared. The breakfast included a glass of fresh juice, tropical fruits, omelette, toast and chapatti. Mau wanted us to experience the local food for dinner. So lucky for us, we had the pleasure to cook with him and his family. We can’t wait to prepare these delicious meals for our friends and family back home!
Besides this amazing family house, there are options to stay in resorts/hotels as well in Jambiani. However, staying in resorts will never give you the great local experience that you will get when staying with Mau.
The best food and where to get it?
The Swahili kitchen is a very diverse one. It has lots of Arabic, Indian and English influences, this is all because of the island’s rich history. If you are in for a quick and cheap meal, you can find lots of small BBQ restaurants. Here they grill delicious marinated chicken skewers and serve them with salad and fresh chips mixed with a mango-chili sauce. This will only cost you around 1,50 USD per portion (including a fresh pineapple-mint juice!). Trust us, if you are a chicken lover, you should really try these skewers instead of the ones being served in the more touristic restaurants. The best BBQ-stands can be found in the village around the main road and not at the beach.
The food we loved the most was the food that we prepared together with our local friends. We have tasted amazing meals with the most fresh fish you can ever imagine. Every day around 4/5 pm, the fisher boats will come back to the island with their catch of the day. As everybody wants to have the best fish, you have to walk to the boats (a bit through the ocean as the boats have not reach the coast yet) in order to be one of the firsts to buy the fresh fish. The vegetables, potatoes, rice or cassava, can be bought in the local shops at the main road.
We have tried many different meals, and they were all so good so it is hard to say which one is our favourite. Our top 2 will be: Coconut rice with calamari in tomato sauce, and peanut and coconut crusted fish.
The coconut rice with Calamari in tomato sauce, was prepared at our friend Lukman’s place. We made this food without any electricity or gas as Lukman had a self-made stove in his garden. First we cooked the rice together with a fresh coconut, when the rice was finished, we placed an aluminium foil on the pan together with some burning coals. We left it there for about 30 minutes, this created a delicious crunchy crust on the rice. In the meantime we prepared the calamari in tomato sauce. All together it was such a delicious combination!
Our other favourite was peanut and coconut crusted fish. You will find the full recipe if you click on this link.
What to do in Zanzibar?
Zanzibar is suitable for any kind of tourist. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a beach, active, or historical vacation – Zanzibar has it all. Below you will find some of our favourite activities:
- Sailing: we went sailing on a traditional Dhow from Jambiani to Paje and back. A Dhow is officially an Arabic sailing boat, but you can find them anywhere in Zanzibar because of the Arabic influences on this island. Once sailing on the ocean, you really see how clear the water is. If you are lucky, you can even spot a dolphin! Fun fact: Burj al Arab, Dubai (the only 7-star hotel in the world) is built like a Dhow.
- Kuza Cave: this beautiful and historical cave was formed about 250.000 years ago by thousands of years of water erosion. The cave itself has a very interesting history: the first people on this entire earth were found in Tanzania/Kenya. This results in very interesting findings in the cave. Back in the day this cave was used to held parties. These parties was not only to have fun with each other, but mostly to share information about technology. For example: how to create the best/sharpest knife from a stone. Today, the cave is accessible for anybody who is interested to see this beautiful creature. It is also possible to swim in the cave, people say the water is healing, so it is definitely worth a try! 😉
- Travel by scooter, car or public transport to the unknown places.
We have visited a small place called Mtende. It was indescribable beautiful, and very unknown under the tourist. We have actually seen only two other (local) persons – in total. You can have a walk at the beach, have a swim, or climb the rocks.
- Visit Stone Town: Stone Town is a very old city, and has lots of history as well. We both prefer the relaxed vibes in Jambiani more than this quite hectic city, but it is worth a visit as the buildings are very impressive. In Stone Town you can also visit the old slave market, which is really imposing to see.