Travel | 72 Hours in Zanzibar
Zanzibar…...even the name gives away this tropical paradise found off the East coast of Africa. While being known as the birthplace of the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, as well as coral beaches and turquoise seas that are bountiful, with more dhows than perhaps people. This magical spice island gives back what daily life often takes away, a blissful reminder of what simplicity can bring to the soul.
Walking through the ancient city of Stone Town, time becomes irrelevant while euphoria starts to take over, there is an inescapable laid back vibration that seems to run through the entire island. This multicultural melting pot has so much to offer, so whether you’re itching to cook up a traditional Swahili meal or sip beachside on a fresh coconut, Zanzibar always seems to roll of the tongue.
Being world- renowned for their spices, the island has farms dating almost 200 years, when the trade routes were in full force. In the traditional sense they are not farms but more of lush forests growing everything from cloves, ginger, cumin, cardamom, saffron, vanilla, cinnamon, turmeric and an unmentionable selection of tropical fruits. While you’re exploring, visit a local farm and learn how to cook a traditional Swahili meal. Typically consisting of pilau rice, coconut curry, Mchicha (spiced spinach), Kachumbari (tomato and onion salad) and to wash it all down, fresh Mango juice. The essence and the backbone of Zanzibar lies in its’ heritage, culture, gastronomy and the epic human connections made in this tropical paradise. Discover how we roam through Zanzibar in our 72 hour Insider guide.
Definitely not our first time in Zanzibar, but coming back to this hot and humid tropical setting felt new as ever. This time even more excited, as we had old friends to reconnect with and new experiences to tick off our Zanzi-bucket list.
February is the buzzing month of Sauti Za Busara, one of East Africa’s biggest music festivals. We were going to taste the different flavours of African musicians and meet global African music lovers whom flock to the Island for a special weekend.
Arriving during the hottest month of the year, We rushed to our awaiting air-conditioned car and welcoming driver, without really realising that the sweaty look was something completely unavoidable.
Swiftly transferred to our first hotel in Stone Town, Jafferji House and Spa, a sensory experience bringing all the wonders of the East African coastline, combined with strong Arab influences. The hotel is owned by a major East African Photographer, so the interior décor is an archival collection of amazing images from various destination, cultural, historical and fashion editorial. Our room was beautifully themed in Arab-Swahili artefacts and trinkets, the scent of Oud was glorious, the typical Zanzibari elevated bed was majestic and our outdoor shower was ready for immediate use.
Refreshed and ready, we intended to hit the shops, before really getting involved in our trip. Zanzibar is so slow paced that it becomes easy to forget time even exists. Before allowing ourselves to be pulled into that frame of mind, we made our way to Darajani Market for all shopping finds. Don't expect glamour and don't expect a selection of luxury high-end products. The richness of Zanzibari products lay in the hands that craft the goods and the history it channels.
The shopping hunt was simple, we whizzed through sourcing woven baskets, Batik pieces and the glorious Kanga fabrics. Making a pit stop at the Kanga store,we stumbled upon an almost auction like scene of delicate chaos. The owner was a savvy Indian businessman treating every woman like a queen, despite them shouting at him to snatch their favourite selection. A few colourful pieces later and we decided that we needed some skin love.
We had heard whispers of an amazing skin care store around Stone Town, to our luck we stumbled upon Nuya's Essence on our way back to the hotel. We bagged ourselves some Mango infused soap and bath salts made with cocoa bean and lemongrass. Intrigued by their amazing collection of products, we had to know the brains behind this operation. Luckily the owner herself was there, Hellen Dausen a beautiful young woman whom we immediately made an awesome connection with. Determined to see her again, Hellen invited us to come check out her workshop, something we would be definitely be doing in a few days.
During our last trip to Zanzibar, we met a killer dynamic-duo Safia & Noah, whom had spent a lot of 2016 arranging awesome catamaran parties for some of Zanzibar’s socialites. We really wanted to experience something different, so we asked Safia and Noah to pull together a great group of Zanzibari’s and do what they do best.
By lunch time we had arrived at the pick-up spot. Hard to miss, you could see the catamaran on the horizon, a DJ blasting sick summer tunes and a group of already very Lit people. Welcomed by yummy Mojito cocktails, Noah cooking up a storm in the kitchen and Safia making all the wonderful introductions, we knew we were set for a great day.
The engine started and we were on our way to the Sandbank. It was like we had our own private Island, with exclusive access, and unbothered by roaming tourists. With the water being even bluer and clearer, it was a great opportunity for snorkelling. The rest of the afternoon was spent working on our tans, dancing, eating great food, sipping incredible cocktails and connecting with vibrant locals.
Arriving back in Stone Town after a breath-taking sunset, the plan was to go back to the hotel, get ready and meet up with everyone at the Old Fort for the Sauti Za Busara music festival. Locals and travellers from all over the world gather in the Old Fort grounds for four magical nights, of epic line-ups of the continents best musicians.
The evening was unforgettable and we fell in love with Moroccan roots-reggae superstars Bob Maghreb, with their soulful renditions of reinterpreted Bob Marley classics with fresh North African flavours. You have to go!
To discover the rest of our Zanzibar adventure download our Zanzibar Insider Guide. Be sure to also download our ultimate Zanzibar playlist and read our My City Series to see how the local trailblazers roam through their city.