Arriving on Zanzibar

And how to pick the wrong beach

Zanzibar was the last stop on the trip with accommodation already pre booked since long. After our failed attempt to make the ferry the previous day, we once again returned to the utter chaos at the ferry terminal. Hasslers filled the small area in front of a big metal gate that separated the parking lot and the queue that led to a security check. Once we had kicked our way through the initial crowd and got past the metal gate, an hour or so of waiting in queue awaited us. As a Swede I’m used to stand in my spot in the line and await my turn, the locals didn’t really have that mindset. The women pushed the kids in front of them, using them to get ahead. The men came after them like buffalos with the luggage. We defended our spots as good as we could.

Finally onboard we sat down and could breathe out for a while. The journey to Zanzibar would take just a couple of hours. Some read, some talked and some just focused on not getting sea sick. For the first time during the trip it actually felt like we were going on vacation. The spirit was high and everyone were looking forward to some beach time. Well in port, we first of all had to collect our bags. The system was idiotic and confusing at best, but after some searching all bags had been found and we headed for immigration. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, so you’ll have to pass through immigration and get your passport stamped both when entering and leaving the island. You also need to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever but they never checked that.

With another passport stamp to the collection and a cab large enough to carry seven of us, we could now travel the final stretch to the guesthouse on the other side of the island. Erik was left behind in Stone Town as he was renting a motorcycle. The trip took approximately an hour and it took us through some small villages on the way. As in the mainland, the traffic cops littered the road here as well. We got checked once along the way and when we arrived to Paje where we were staying, we got stopped once more at a roadblock. There a lady demanded a fee from the driver for entrance, our speculation is that this was pure mafia activity. The police stood right next to her watching it go down. The same thing would happen at all times when we entered or left the area. Most drivers complied but one got into a heated discussion with the lady, don’t know what was said as they spoke Swahili but seemed he wasn’t all to happy to pay her. Luckily this didn’t really affect us and we’re soon at the guesthouse, Crazy Mzungo’s. First impression, well I definitely stayed at worse places, but would never recommend it to anyone. The guesthouses were very spartan with not all to comfortable beds. The bar and kitchen were okay, but places nearby were way better though. At least the staff were friendly. There were two big disappointments though, the biggest one was the tide. The water around Paje is very shallow quite far out, and the low tide occurs during day time between approx 10am and 4pm. These two combined makes the sea more or less disappear during the majority of the day so you couldn’t swim at the guesthouse. You had to travel several kilometres north to be able to do any swimming. The second let down was that the place was empty, we were the only ones there during the week. We didn’t really see all too many people walking around the beach either. So all in all, we probably found one of the worst spots to spend a week at on Zanzibar.

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