skip to Main Content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
Zanzibar- As Exotic As It Sounds

Zanzibar- As Exotic as it Sounds

When you have been riding your bike day in and day out for about two months, it can become a bit tedious. While the countryside in Africa changes, the daily routine doesn’t.

Wake up, change into bike shorts and shirt, pack up tent, eat breakfast, bike for several hours, stop and have lunch, bike for several hours, arrive at camp, set up tent, eat dinner, go to sleep.

So when riders on the 2008 Tour d’Afrique were told that we would not be biking through Kenya (due to post-election conflict), I was secretly relieved. This meant that I had two weeks in the middle of Africa to do whatever I wanted.

I decided that I would climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and do a safari. Kilimanjaro was probably the highlight of my time in Africa but unfortunately the safari Gods lined up against my travel partners and I. Our hand was forced and we decided to hop on the next flight to Zanzibar instead!

One of Zanzibar's beautiful beaches
One of Zanzibar’s beautiful beaches – Photo credit: Amandad from Pixabay

Zanzibar – as exotic as itsounds

I didn’t know a thing about Zanzibar. I just thought the name was awesome so the place must be too!

We had a bit of a bumpy time getting there as the plane aborted take-off due to a sandstorm. After the sandstorm passed and the plane was in the air we were able to see the stunning scenery from above.

Stone Town, the main city in Zanzibar greeted us with a wave of heat and humidity. It was fabulous! We had made no formal arrangements so upon arrival at the tiny airport we talked to a few locals about what to do. We ended up bargaining with a taxi driver to stop at the bank and then take us to the north end of the island.

Enjoying time off a bike in Zanzibar
Enjoying time off a bike in Zanzibar

We left picturesque Stone Town and for about an hour winded our way through the tropical island’s bumpy roads. Once outside of Stone Town it was apparent that much of the population of Zanzibar lived in poverty. However, like everywhere else I’d seen in Africa, the people were smiling and gracious.

The taxi driver took us to an amazing hotel right on the coast. It was dark by the time we arrived so we didn’t really get a chance to see what sort of place we were staying in. But surprisingly, we were greeted by other members from the Tour D’Afrique!

It was such a welcome sight to see familiar faces in such a foreign place. They all looked well rested. I, on the other hand, was exhausted as it was just that morning that we had finished descending Kilimanjaro.

Tough life in Zanzibar
Pretty sweet view for breakfast

Paradise in Zanzibar

I felt as if I’d landed in paradise. The grounds of the hotel were beautiful. There were huge tropical trees and sandy paths leading to the main building. Here we enjoyed the warm breezes off the Indian Ocean.

Breakfast with other members of the Tour D’Afrique gave me insight on what there was to do…it turned out that the snorkeling was incredible, the walks interesting and the water perfect for swimming. But unfortunately once outside the hotel, the stark difference between how the locals lived and how the tourists lived hit home.

Beautiful white sand beaches in Zanzibar
Beautiful white sand beaches in Zanzibar
Idyllic for tourist but a tough life for locals in Zanzibar
Idyllic for tourist but a tough life for locals in Zanzibar

Time to explore Stone Town

After several days of soaking up the sun and lying on the beach Stone Town beckoned. It’s a beautiful spot with maze like streets, busy bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses. I loved exploring so hours were spent poking in shops and seeing the sights. The food was unremarkable but ice cream in the heat was a treat.

Nice details even in inexpensive hotels
Nice details even in inexpensive hotels

Zanzibar is very touristy

Zanzibar was also littered with tourists. You could find most of the tourists congregated around the shops dedicated to Freddie Mercury, the lead singer from the band Queen. (Funny enough, on the Tour D’Afrique our tour leaders would sometimes wake us up with a song by Queen – “I want to ride my bicycle” – pretty fitting?).

The week in Zanzibar flew by and before I knew it, it was time to hop on a plane back to the mainland and continue biking south. After a day back on the saddle, the pristine blue waters and sandy white beaches seemed like a dream. But it wasn’t. And if you are in Tanzania and have the time, make the trip to Zanzibar. You won’t regret it. Zanzibar is as exotic as it sounds!

Sunrise in Zanzibar
Sunrise in Zanzibar – Photo credit: MonikaP from Pixabay

Guest blog was kindly written by Kristen McAdam, a 2008 Tour d’Afrique cyclist.

Further reading on things to do in Africa

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close search

Cart

Pin It on Pinterest