Visit to Stone Town and Prison Island

Zanzibar Travel Blog

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What a long day, and it has not finished yet! I woke up at 6:00 am to take some pictures on the beach. The view was just astonishing! As the sun started to come out, the beach started to show some life. Many Masai started to walk along the beach while the sun made the sky turned into many different colours, and on the background the typical Zanzibar boat. Some Masai were walking, some were riding a bycicle and there was also some women walking in the water picking up something I couldn´t really tell.


“Jambo, Jambo!”.- that was the first thing you would hear when somebody passed by. Once I took almost a hundred pictures (goose bumps all the time), I went for breakfast.

There was a huge assortiment of fruits and many other things. While I waited the others to join me I read my Lonely Planet to learn a little bit about today´s activity… Stone Town.


At 8:30 our guide showed up in the hotel. We found this guy on the beach the day before. Actually the beach is full of tour guides offering different excursions. You have to be careful, they are quite cheaper than the tour guides in the hotel, but it is a little bit risky. This guy seemed to be an honest guy so we arranged all today´s excursion with him.


It took us an hour to go from Ocean Paradise Hotel to Stone Town, although it was not boring at all as on the way you go through small villages and very nice landscapes.

On the way to Stone Town we stopeed in a small village to pick up another guide, who was in charge of giving all the explanations in Spanish.


First thing we did was to visit the market. To tell you the truth I was glad we had two guides with us otherwise I would have felt kind of vulnerable there. It was a caos, interesting but confusing. Once we got into the market we started visiting the fisher´s area… woaow! I almost fainted! It smell like hell, and everything was so dirty! We kept on visiting the market… fascinating experience! Then from there we started walking through the narrow streets observing everything happening all around. One of the most impressive visits we did was the former slave market site. We even show the place where all slaves waited to be sold to Arabia and India. There was a very small room with very low ceilings where 75 girls and women were held…. The amazing fact is that slavery was not abolished until 1905, only a hundred years ago… scary!


Once slavery was abolished they built an anglican church where slaves were sold.

And next to it there is a monument on their honor which was quite impressive as the statues expressed the way they felt during the time. In the middle of the way we stopped in a typical coffee place and we had some coffees and teas with lots of species from Zanzibar.


For lunch we went to Mercury´s Restaurant! It was recommended in Lonely Planet so it was a secure bet! There we had some seafood and white wine. We got tipsy so with that happy mood we asked the name of the Island we had in front of us… Prison Island. It is quite know for its huge turtles. We asked the guide and we arranged a visit to the place. First we went to the embarcadero to hire a boat and we negotiated a good price to get there! 40 dollars for 6 people, wich is quite unexpensive. The trip took us 30 minutes or so but it was fun. The view getting to the Island was impressive, with white sand all around and very blue water. Once we arrived we paid a 5US$ to see the turtles.

We thought they were wild all around the area but in fact they are in a small park with fences all around. I was not particulary interested in seeing turtles but the trip was worthwile. As we finished the tour we sat down on a nice terrace and had a beer. By the way, it is quite difficult to get a cold beer in Tanzania! J 


Although it had been a long day we decided we wanted to see how nightlife was in Zanzibar, so we asked our guide to give us a ride to the city at night. He charged us 50US$ to do that, which is quite unexpensive if you consider that asking in the hotel reception they charge you 90US$.

At 9pm sharp (he is very punctual) he picked us up. He came over with his brother driving a tunned car! (funny fact). First we went to Mercury´s Bar and then to Livingston Lounge. Both were very nice bars indeed altough there was not too many people. Definetily Zanzibar is not a place for single people. There was a mixed between local people and couples, mostly Italians, Spanish and South African. After having a couple of drinks we looked for a club and we heard a place on the beach playing good music. As we were approaching the entrance 4 security guards with machine guns got in and arrested some drunk guys inside. Not a nice plan if you want to have fun. Besides, we did not see any white people around, and even our guide told us to avoid entering the place.


In the area we saw Zanzibar Serena Hotel, which was quite well located and looked like a nice colonial palace. Anyways, I still prefer our hotel and its location (Ocean Paradise).


Conclusión: Zanzibar is not for singles! ;)

becca14 says:
Hi, just been reading about your time in Zanzibar.....a friend and I are thinking of going here for a week whilst we are travelling in Tanzania, would you recommend it? Or would you say stick to the main land? We're only travelling for a month so want to make the most of it!
Posted on: Jan 02, 2008
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