A Travellerspoint blog

February 2008

Day 16 - Heading home

Zanzibar to Nairobi and home

sunny 93 °F

The Breezes Beach Club is so pleasant, we hated to leave. However, we definitely wanted to check out Stonetown and do some shopping before flying home.

Stonetown is about 1 hour from Breezes. There are so many shops to choose from in Stonetown, it is pretty easy to spend your money quickly. After getting our last minute gifts, we enjoyed a nice lunch on the beach at the Tembo House Hotel before driving the 15 minutes to the airport.

The Zanzibar Airport has to be one of the worst airports I have ever flown through -- even on a good day. But this was not a good day :-) The computers were down, and how we ended up with boarding passed and getting our luggage checked is still a little vague to me.

It's about 1-1/2 hours from Zanzibar to Nairobi. Kenya Airways was quite nice and even served a snack on this short flight.

In Nairobi, we had to go through customs and get our luggage, and we were happy to see that it made it!

There is only one evening flight from Zanzibar to Nairobi, and unfortunately it was sold out. Therefore, we got to spend 6 hours in the Nairobi Airport. We found a pleasant coffee shop to pass the time where the televisions highlighted all the rioting in the Nairobi area. Hard to believe from the safe confines of the airport....

The nice thing about the Northwest/KLM flight home is that you leave at night, so you can get a lot of sleep on that 8+ hour flight to Amsterdam. The Boeing 747's only have one movie screen to watch, but if you get on a 777 or an Airbus 330, you will have a private movie screen with games.

Thanks to our tour operator, Adventures Within Reach, for a great family trip to Africa!

Posted by bolderwork 11:47 Archived in Tanzania Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Day 15 - Zanzibar

Jozani Forest and Breezes Beach Club

sunny 95 °F

Today, we headed down to the southern end of the island to spend the night at Breezes Beach Club.

On the way, we stopped at the Jozani Forest to see the red colobus monkeys. This is the only place in the world where you can see these monkeys. It was raining when we arrived, and I was afraid that we would see the monkeys, but there they were, sitting in the trees under the biggest leaves they could find. Our guide actually says that you are almost guaranteed to see the monkeys on any day of the year. Now that they are protected, they are not easily frightened.

There are actually three parts to the Jozani tour -- monkeys, forest walk, and mangrove trees. All three were very enjoyable. In the forest, our son found interesting frogs, bugs, and even a baby forest cobra. In the mangrove area, you can climb right on the roots.

Our next stop was the Breezes Beach Club. Now, there was nothing wrong with our last hotel, but there is something about finishing off your trip with a nice 5-star hotel.

At Breezes, they have a lovely large pool, which feels like bathwater. Even though you are right on the beach, it is nice having a pool to relax at.

The beach activities depend on the tides. At high tide, you can enjoy activities like sailing and swimming. At low tide, you do things like biking on the beach and walking out to the reef. With the coral and sea urchins, you definitely need reef shoes to protect your feet.

Our 6-year-old walked the almost half mile out to the reef and snorkeled back in amazed at the gorgeous sea life. You can also do scuba diving from here, but it is too far to get to Mnemba Island.

The other very popular activity in this area of the island is diving with the dolphins. You need at least a half day for this, and there is no guarantee that the dolphins will show up.

Posted by bolderwork 11:37 Archived in Tanzania Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Day 14 - Zanzibar

Diving, beaches, and dhow cruising

sunny 95 °F

We headed out this morning to go scuba diving at Mnemba Island, Zanzibar's premier diving spot. This little island is off the northeast coast of Zanzibar. The hotels at Matemwe are the closest to this dive spot, and there is a very expensive lodge right on Mnemba, but you can access the dive area by boat from the north end of the island or the upper east end of the island.

From Nungwi, it is a 1-1/2 hour boat ride to Mnemba. We used Spanish Dancer Diving and found them very professional. It was $100/person. You can find diving for as little as $85/person, but I couldn't be sure of the quality of personnel or equipment.

We found the diving to be absolutely spectacular -- countless amazing tropical fish, moray eels, sting rays, and cozy warm water.

In the evening, we did a dhow cruise for $15/person for 2-1/2 hours. What a wonderful way to watch the sunset from these gorgeous boats cruising up and down the coastline.

Posted by bolderwork 11:31 Archived in Tanzania Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Day 12 - Serengeti/Ndutu

Migration, rhino observation office, Maasai painting

sunny 90 °F

Today we headed to the southwestern area of the Serengeti looking for the migration. And find it, we did! Sometimes, the animals are urgently searching for water, and they are running, running, running, and you just have to try to stay out of their way. Today, however, they were not in such a big hurry. Hundreds or even thousands of wildebeest and zebras just out for their daily walk.

Every year, 1-2 million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras migrate in a big circle clockwise between the Serengeti, the Masai Mara, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area following the rains. In February, the wildebeest give birth to their young all in about a three week period. From there, they head west and then north until they reach the northern area in July-August. By November, they start to head back south and do it all over again.

Of course, the migration depends on the rains and is not predictable. If the rains do not come in the spring, they may skip the Western Corridor altogether. Typically in January, the migration is southeast of the Serengeti, but we found it in the southwest region of the Serengeti and in Ndutu.

In this area of the Serengeti, you can visit the rhino observation office, and there is some old Maasai rock painting.

In the afternoon, we head to Ndutu, which is outside the Serengeti in the northwestern area of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This area gets far fewer visitors than the more famous areas surrounding it. Ndutu is nice for getting away from the crowds and also you can drive off road here and get closer to the animals.

There is only one lodge in the area -- the Ndutu Safari Lodge, which is very nice with amazing views. Other than that, you will only find mobile tented camps, which are in this area when the animals are here.

We stayed at the Ahsanti mobile tented camp. It was a little rough around the edges, but I just love the mobile tented camp experience. Yes, we heard the lions at night, and it sounds like they are right outside your door!

Posted by bolderwork 13:50 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Day 13 - Zanzibar

Flying from Ndutu to Zanzibar

sunny 90 °F

Regional Air is one of the few airlines where you can fly all the way from the Serengeti to Zanzibar. The exact route of the flight depends on where the clients are flying that day. They will stop at Klein, Grumeti, Seronera, Ndutu, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro, and/or Kilimanjaro before finally landing in Arusha and then on to Zanzibar.

Especially with kids, it's nice to not have to drive all the way back. Besides -- it's a fun trip with lots of great views of the landscape and countless Maasai villages.

Landing in Zanzibar is often a bit of a shock after spending time on the mainland. It's hot, tropical, and has strong Muslim influence. Even the Maasai wear purple robes instead of red.

Our first stop is to get a coconut for the 6-year-old. We stop on the side of the road where they open up a fresh coconut with a machete. Fresh coconuts are just not the same as the grated, sweetened coconut we are used to :-)

It's 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to get to any hotel on the beach. We stayed at the Amaan Bungalows in the Nungwi area on the north end of the island. Typically, I recommend that people do a spice tour en route to their beach hotel, but we are eager to get to the beach!

The village of Nungwi looks very poor and uninviting, but it is does offer some services and is fairly safe for walking. The hotel area up here is pretty big and offers a large, safe area for walking, swimming, dining, and shopping.

There are about 20 hotels hotels right in Nungwi, and another half dozen in Kendwa just to the west. Ras Nungwi and a couple of others are east of Nungwi and are set off by themselves. Amaan Bungalows is tucked in with the long line of hotels in the area. There are 2 restaurants at the hotel and many more in the area.

The beach in Nungwi is beautiful, soft, white sand. There are many little beaches separated by coral outcroppings. At high tide, some of the beaches disappear.

Kendwa has a longer, wider beach, so there is plenty of beach even at low tide.

Posted by bolderwork 11:07 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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