We had a rather unpleasant start to our visit to Zanzibar. Five of the people from our previous trip carried on with us on a pre-organized trip extension to Zanzibar. Unfortunately, when we made the booking it did not detail what places we would be staying in, only the general location. After taking the ferry in the morning to this spice island we were met by a local representative and delivered to our first hotel. After checking in, the local representative started to hassle us to do an expensive city tour and spice tour with him. He was offering prices well above what was quoted in our trip dossier and was offering to include less at the same time. He also didn’t know where we were supposed to be staying the following nights when I asked despite needing to transfer us to there on the next day. He made a guess and told us a place which turned out to be wrong. He had sat us down in a restaurant with exorbitant prices and we didn’t want to eat there. We were so unimpressed with the situation that we left the table without ordering.
Later that day he tracked down the entire group of us in another restaurant and told us there was no accommodation booked for our subsequent nights and suggested we organize our own transportation to wherever we were planning on staying. Having paid for everything upfront this left us particularly upset. We lost an entire afternoon in Stone Town as we scrambled to track down numbers to make international calls to figure out what to do next. After a lot of effort and a number of calls we finally were given a name for where we were to stay on the North of Zanzibar. A representative was to come and meet us to explain the situation. Finally someone showed up and it turned out to be the same person we had the problem with before. He told us the hotels in the North are booked-up and they made other arrangements for us to stay off of Zanzibar on a different island towards the mainland. I talked to a representative of the tour company in South Africa and explained this is not what I had paid for, I wanted the remainder of my money back and would go it alone without the services of the tour company there forwards. I had wanted to stay on the beautiful Zanzibar beaches either on the North or East side of the island with easy access to explore the mainland. I managed to find a recommended place on the East coast and made a direct booking.
The following morning the seven of us did a spice tour, which actually turned out to be very informative. It was to be our last group activity since Leanne and I were not carrying on to the other island.
In Stone Town Leanne and I wandered through the maze of winding streets and had a really great lunch at a place we stumbled across in the middle of it all. One of the ATMs I withdrew money from rebooted a few minutes later with the Windows XP load screen showing on the display. I got my money and it was at a bank, but I’m still a bit worried. It was certainly funny to see. We later went to the local market before going to sort out our transportation off the island and running a few more errands. We took a private transfer across the island to the place we would spend our next three afternoons.
Paradise! We booked into a large beautiful suite with a huge private patio at a gorgeous five star beach resort on the always sunny East coast of the island. The pool was clean, large and inviting and the beach here is stunning with squeaky white sand and coral filled turquoise waters. The place is very romantic and perfect for couples. We were so happy when we saw it that we were giddy. That evening we celebrated. The following day we relaxed by the beach and pool side. I had an assortment of tasty adult beverages and Leanne had a nice visit to the spa. It has become another of our favourite stays and is giving us a little holiday from our travelling.
We will be off for another safari in a couple days, but will certainly be looking forward to some more beach time and especially meeting up with family when my mother-in-law, Maureen, comes to join us in Mauritius. Thank you Maureen for keeping us connected with home so often throughout our journey.
Photos from Zanzibar are posted with at the same location as the other East Africa photos. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=109035&id=673382190&l=5bdb56301d