Tanzania & Zanzibar
May 10, 2009
|After a wonderful few weeks in Malawi we arrived in Tanzania. Shortly after passing through the border we managed to get scammed by some local touts (for all of 4 pounds but we still felt cheated!). We took a bus to Mbeya, the nearest big town to the Malawian border. We needed to organise our tickets to Dar es Salaam and recover from the colds we had unfortunately managed to catch. We had a slight moment of panic when our cash card wouldn't work in any ATM. After ringing Nationwide in the UK we were told that the card was fine and we needed to speak to the banks directly. We were helpfully told that the bank's communication system with VISA had broken (thanks Barclays!) but luckily we had just about enough to make it to Dar.
Upon arriving in Dar after 12 hours on the bus (with no toilet) we checked into the YWCA. Our plan was to organise our Zambian visa and then go onto Zanzibar. Unfortunately we had to spend an extra day in Dar because 30 hours was not long enough for the Zambian High Commission to put a stamp in our passport, despite paying over $50 each for the priveledge!
After sorting everything out we left to go to Stone Town in Zanzibar, a short ferry ride away. It really is a great place with African and Asian cultures fused together. We visited the spice plantations and slave caves which were both very interesting and we got to sample many of the local fruits. It was a strange experience walking down narrow unlit alleyways which Stone Town is famed for because your natural reaction is not to go into them. However, we felt very safe and the only annoyances were the touts desperate for trade as it was low season. We visited the market with its wonderful array of colours and smells and sped up through the fish section as it certainly was pungent.
We spent at day in the North of Zanzibar at Kendwa Beach where a lot of holiday makers go to enjoy the white sands and clear blue sea. It was very pleasant to swim in waters of 27 degrees.
For dinner one evening we went to a place called Sambusa Two Tables. Essentially we were in the living room of a Zanzibari family and they brought us dish after dish of traditional local foods. After 5 courses of curries and soups we were incredibly full but it was an excellent experience. There's nothing like some good home cooking!
We felt sad to be leaving after 5 days but again the weather had changed and we were caught in several long downpours so perhaps it was a sign. We had a very choppy journey back to Dar and Richard was looking quite green by the end. We saw a couple of dolphins swimming alongside the boat which was a good way to end our Zanzibarian adventure.
We took the Tazara train from Dar to Lusaka. We had our own cabin which was a relief because 46 hours cramped up with strangers would have been hard work. It was a great experience and certainly better than any bus ride we have taken so far. The only delay (which we have heard are regular on this line) was for an hour and a half while we waited for a hippo to wake up and get off the tracks. Not something we have ever experiened with South West Trains.
Sorry for the lack of photos but we have a horrible feeling that our memory stick got a virus last time we used it and we are concerned that we might have lost all of our photos. We'll put more photographs up when we get back to the UK and we are on our own computer.
We only have a few weeks left so hopefully we will see you all soon.