I craved for a relaxing holiday to celebrate my birthday, usually my travels are jam packed with activities and sight seeing. Zanzibar’s crystal clear water, soft white sand, fantastic food and warm hospitality, made it the easiest decision to head there for an extended weekend.
Zanzibar is easily reached from Dubai, a 5 hours flight with Emirates took us to Dar es Salam, then a short 20 minutes flight in a small plane seating about 12 made the ending journey a thrill! These flights are available through out the day, with many airlines offering flights. We did not book it ahead of time as we didn’t know how long the immigration and visa processing would take. Once in Africa it is best to relax and adjust to the slow way of doing business for an enjoyable time! Remember TIA (This is Africa)
Tip: I recommend carrying small bills of dollar to pay for taxis and flights to ensure you have the exact agreed price to pay.
Deciding on the accommodation was easy, I knew Qambani Luxury Resort would be our home away from home in Zanzibar as soon as I saw pictures online. A small resort comprising of 7 villas in the quiet area of Michamvi, an hour and half ride from the airport on the East coast. There are no signs guiding us to the resort from the main road, (purposely done so to keep it a hidden gem) and ending with a dirt road to the main gate!
A pathway covered in flowers and greenery took us to the living area, where we were warmly greeted by Priscila, who brought us freshly squeezed juice and introduced us to the resort. There was so much to see and many, many wow moments along the way.
The carefully thought out interiors, with an impressive eye for detail, exquisite craftsmanship and plenty of African artistry gives a very intimate and inviting feel. Every villa has a different name, ours was the Sultan, which I found to be very fitting for us! The decor was very eccentric with touches of wood, antique accents and a beautiful mix of Arabic and African art through out. An outdoor shower was the perfect way to start and end our days, and our veranda overlooking the ocean was the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee while reading a book.
Beach there is seasonal, meaning that there is a huge difference on the water level based on the tide. From late afternoon to early morning the tide is at its fullest, and in between it is low enough to enjoy a long walk in a very secluded and private beach. Because of that we enjoyed swimming and tanning by the pool, an infinite pool with a bar and shaded area was our spot for the trip and when we wished for water from the ocean, we greatly enjoyed the salt water pool.
We chose the full board option during our stay and we could not be happier with that decision. Everyday we had a different menu cooked by chefs Axel and Adbul at any time we wanted, and in different locations through out the resort. Breakfast was delicious with freshly squeeze juices, lots of fruits and the most delicious omelette we have ever had.
Priscila organised a diving trip for us from a diving centre located at Paje, a beach that is further south from Michamvi. The ocean was just too stunning for words, starting with a bright, vibrant, and crystal clear water, then endless shades of blue. This busy part of Zanzibar is full of bars, music and many people from all over the world, and it is surrounded by coconut trees. It is a famous place to kite surf, with so many kites adding colour to the sky.
We could not miss the opportunity to visit The Rock, a restaurant situated above a coral rock. This is such an iconic sight that should not be missed if ever in Zanzibar. Depending on the tide, it is easily accessible by walk or a short boat ride. We enjoyed drinks outside and a delicious coconut tiramisu (specialty of the house.)
On our last day before saying goodbye to this magical island, we stopped by Stone Town on our way to the airport. We started by visiting the Slave Chambers, where we gained some knowledge of its history. I was surprised to find out that during the Age of Exploration, the Portuguese gained control of Zanzibar, and kept it for nearly 200 years. Besides vast history, Stone Town offers shops for traditional gifts and souvenirs, beautiful wooden doors and many cats!
PS: With the growing number of hotels and tourists, the water supply for the local people in Zanzibar have significantly reduced, leaving some villages without water. Be mindful of your water consumption while there!