Urs, Silvio and me enter Stonetown on Zanzibar by air conditioned high speed ferry coming from Dar Es Salaam, the biggest town in Tanzania. The ferry was about 40 USD per person. We got the tickets in a small shop hardly indicating it was an official ticket office. Yet, any attempt to bargain for a better price was unsuccessful. Later, we’d get more and more used to the lack of official ticket offices, as well as bargaining.
Stone town is listed as UNESCO World Heritage due to its historical importance for Indian, Arabian and later European traders or colonialists. In the somewhat rotten historical centre, one can find a good portion of the old nicely carved wooden door frames, as well as a few colonial buildings and an old castle. Lots of small shops and street sellers try to find their customers more or less intrusively. Yet, the Indian cuisine in Stone town is one of the best foods you can get all over Tanzania, despite the meals of the luxury lodges in the national parks.
Close to the somewhat smelly and dodgy fish market we found an affordable and comfortable hotel with lovely rooftop restaurant. We spend two days in the burning heat, hanging out in tourist bars with (from my point of view) utopist prices for beer and food. Due to the long term power cut of entire Zanzibar, most places turned either dark and quiet or noisy and smelly after dusk.
With some recommendations for the east coast, we headed for Paje in a comfortable taxi, at last finding a small resort called “Coral beach” with small but comfortable bungalows for about 25000 Schilling per night. The beach itself is fairly long and the sand firm enough even for cycling. We spent a couple of days there doing little but hanging in the sun and walking the beach in the late afternoon. Once we went for a Dolphin snorkeling tour down to the southern cape of Zanzibar. A couple of small motor boats with tourists were chasing a number of dolphins for about half an hour on open water. Whenever the boats reached the breathing dolphins, we were asked to jump off the boat for snorkeling. Certainly, we came close to the beautiful creatures, and we could see them well swimming away until they came up breathing two minutes later. We were upset about the “hunting” procedure, yet the boat drivers told us they are doing these tours since about 20 years, and the dolphins still keep coming. For those keen on swimming, Paje beach is little recommendable. To get into deeper water, one has to cross hundreds of meters of knee-deep sea weed covered muddy shallow water. However, it’s a cool place to hang out with good friends for a number of days if they can entertain themselves.
Back in Stone town, the electricity problem was finally solved, which rendered our quiet hotel into a nightmare due to the neighboring disco…
Just a few kilometers north of Stone town one can find the ruins of the sultans palace, where Princess Salme lived before the married a German trader and moved to Germany in the early 19th century. The ruins surrounded by a wide park give a little glimpse what this place must have been like before it faded away.