Earlier this year,Michelle Karam the genius behind Travel Junkie Diary, launched a concept called #TravelWithTJD, where she would invite fellow likeminded and passionate travel junkies on an unforgettable adventure. Following the success of the first #TravelWithTJD, the second trip was announced, and Zanzibar, Tanzania, was the destination.
Yes, Zanzibar. One of the most exotic locations in Africa and an island that has only come to life in the last decade due to an enormous tourism push by the government. Get ready to be mind blown at how beautiful this island really is!
When Michelle first contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in being a part of the entire trip, I cut her off mid-conversation with a huge yes!
After sleeping through my alarm, I spent that Friday morning running around like a headless chicken throwing whatever I could find into my suitcase. Fast forward thirty minutes and I safely arrived to Dubai International Airport, where I met my#TravelWithTJD family for the first time.
We boarded our flight en-route to Zanzibar via Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The majority of the first leg of the flight was spent getting to know one another, snapchatting and dozing off every half an hour before being woken up by someone’s laugh.
After finally arriving at Zanzibar, we received our visas and were on the bus heading to our home for the next couple of days, Melia Zanzibar. Here, Tayib, our tour guide for the entire week, put his history cap on and educated us on a brief history of Tanzania and Zanzibar. An Island that was once ruled by the Omani’s and the English, and now populated by the likes of Indians and Chinese, the place has become an incredible cultural infusion over the decades.
Upon arrival, the hospitable managerial staff of Melia Zanzibar welcomed us with orchid bracelets and freshly cracked drinking coconuts. After a brief introduction by Jose, Melia’s General Manager, we were off to our rooms to quickly freshen up before we feasted at our first dinner together.
Up early on our first full day in Zanzibar, we met for breakfast before heading to Stone Town.
This place was incredible. Markets of spices, fruit & vegetables, antiques, clothing and seafood populated the majority of the town. We spent a couple of hours roaming around the markets snapping photos, stocking up on goods and socializing with the locals. I’ll let these photos do all the talking though:
Having explored the most popular parts of Stone Town, we continued our journey to the Park Hyatt Zanzibar. With open arms, the managerial team invited and joined us for a Mediterranean inspired lunch, before showing us around the palatial hotel. With a heavy European influence throughout the majority of the hotel’s interior, I fell in love with this place and wanted to call it home.
With our appetites taken care of, we hopped on to a dhow that would take us to the infamous Prison Island. Here, we visited a sanctuary home to dozens of turtles, some as old as one hundred and eighty years old!
After a quick swim, we rushed back onto the dhow before embarking on a sunset cruise back to the mainland, accompanied by the soothing sound of talented musicians playing traditional Swahili music. This was absolutely bliss.
Top cap of such an eventful day, we had to go out with a bang. After quick showers, we all met for dinner at the Jetty, located approximately one hundred meters off Melia’s shore on a wharf in the middle of the ocean. This night became my favourite night of the entire trip as it was filled with endless laughter, ear-to-ear smiles and delicious food.
We started off the day with a little road trip to the island’s East Coast, where we embarked on a tour of a Spice Farm in Kidichi. Here we were exposed to plants that produce cinnamon, vanilla, coca, herbs and many different spices.
Back on to the bus and off to what would become one of my all time favourite restaurants, The Rock Zanzibar. The restaurant was built on a natural rock by an Englishmen who spent his childhood in Italy and has been living in Zanzibar since the age of eleven. I highly recommend you try his delicious seafood.
Having originally walked to the restaurant during low-tide, the tide started to come in while we enjoyed our salivating lunch. Before we knew it, there was no walking back. The tide had come in so quick, that we had to catch a boat back to shore
We decided to hit the pool for an afternoon swim as the sun set, with the company of Michelle’s new inflatable friends that she spent a solid half an hour inflating.
After we had our fun poolside, we quickly freshened up before meeting at the Aqua restaurant for a fine dining farewell dinner. Here, chivalrous Greg (@GregSideris) handed each of us a souvenir from Vienna along with a gift voucher to a tour of the entire city valued at fifteen hundred Euro!
After failing for three consecutive days to capture the gorgeous sunrise, it was now or never. Up at 5am and feeling a little rough after a late night with the team, my sunrise was dampened by slight overcast. Though, with some rays escaping through the cracks, it was a glorious morning in Zanzibar.
Having to pack our bags and have breakfast together for the last time was a little depressing. To take our minds off things, the hotel management invited us on an extensive tour of the hotel’s property, scaling different villas and rooms, as well as a hidden unground cave.
Before we knew it, we were back on our bus and heading to Zanzibar airport en route to Dubai with flydubai.
This trip was simply amazing. I’d like to thank Michelle from Travel Junkie Diary, Houda and Dana from flydubai and the entire Melia Zanzibar team for having me on such a mind-blowing trip. From meeting different, yet like-minded people, to sharing memorable experiences with each one, it was truly a once in a lifetime African adventure!