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Zanzibar, Tembo House Hotel, Stone Town. Monday 4 January 2016. Week 35, day 261.



“If you’re traveling long term allow yourself to take a day or two here and there to relax and recharge”.


Today we were booked on a full day tour by dhow to snorkel a coral reef, swim in a lagoon, have lunch on an island and finally swim from an offshore sand bank. Abdul had chosen the Johari rather than the longer established Ocean Blue tour for us as discussed in Geeks. This tour was a great success and I was most relieved when Anne was not in the least sea-sick. Just sailing off into the ocean under the sail of a traditional dhow is an experience in itself. This is another tour we would fully vouch for. We discussed the tour to swim with dolphins with Abdul but he felt that this was becoming overcrowded and felt we would enjoy the chosen one more. There were about 10 other tourists on board and Abdul was the only tour guide accompanying his clients. He enjoys snorkeling and having him with us added a lot of value.

He drove us to the south where we boarded the dhow and set off first for the lagoon, a lovely sheltered spot carved out of the coralline rock, with a narrow entrance and lovely swimming conditions. We then anchored over a large area of coral where reasonably good snorkeling was enjoyed over a well populated large reef. We spent a couple of hours here and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Following this we beached on a fairly substantial nearby island (I forget its name but the other companies use it too) and had an amazingly good lunch cooked over coals on the island. There was shellfish left over, so generous was the catering. Lobster, prawns, fish, chicken, coconut curry sauce, fresh fruit, cold beers etc etc. Thereafter we set sail once again stopping of at a mid-ocean sand bank exposed at low tide with safe swimming and a little snorkeling. This was a very satisfying outing, it was exhilarating just to set off into the great blue in one of the oldest types of seagoing craft around. Seeing how well Anne tolerated the sea and dhow, I am now very sorry that we did not cross to Zanzibar from Peponi by dhow. That would have been yet another real adventure. Perhaps one day we will visit Pemba, Mafia or Lamu this way!

After a quick shower at the hotel we drifted around Stone Town enjoying some cold ones at a few of the bars before settling on the Monsoon restaurant where I enjoyed my Swahili-style octopus. That night at the hotel was at first entertaining but later irritating. At the very expensive Park Hyat hotel next door there had been frantic and elaborate preparations for a Hindu wedding that evening. This was a very elaborate affair with the whole hotel being booked and 400 guests being “entertained” by the 5hr wedding formalities which took place in the large courtyard and garden immediately adjacent to and below our room. Eventually the elaborate ceremony with flute and sitar accompaniment was over by 23H00 when they entered the hotel for the reception. Fortunately Abdul had arranged to pick us up at only 10H00 so it was shutters closed and plans for a late sleep-in, a great rarity during our travels.


Main. All at sea on a dhow.


1. Preparing the dhows for the trip.

2 and 3. Setting the sail.

3. The cheerful guide Abdul.

4. The lagoon.

5. The sandspit in the distance.

6. The largest baobab in Zanzibar, fallen onto its side at some stage.

7. The seafood feast on the island.