Skip Navigation

Trip Report: Zanzibar Stone Town, Spice Tour and Kendwa, Tan

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East Trip Report: Zanzibar Stone Town, Spice Tour and Kendwa, Tan

1. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

Stone Town is amazing. My first experience of an “Arabic” city. The streets are crocked and narrow, and most of them can’t accommodate cars, which makes it a great walking city. Sunset at The Africa House hotel is a must, and the sunset is also nice from Mercury’s restaurant.

For dinner, definitely hit Forodhani Gardens for the outdoor grill experience. The first night my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I couldn’t finish my 5 skewers of lobster, tuna, prawns, calamari and oysters. Total of that meal, $US 7 dollars. The next night, learning my lesson, I spent $US 4 for lobster, tuna and calamari and was very happily sated.

Stayed at the Garden Inn on Kaunda Road. $US 20 for a single including breakfast on the rooftop patio. The rooms were nice with four-poster beds, mosquito nets, fans and hot water. It is also an excellent choice because it is on a major road, and thus easy to find. One of the places I was thinking of I stumbled on while lost in the twisting alleys of Stone Town. There is no way I would have been able to find a hotel in those back streets in the dark after a few beers.

Took a spice tour. Zanzibar is famous for growing spices, especially cloves, and taking a tour of a spice farm. The farmer takes you around and shows you various plants and their fruits. We then play a game where we try and guess what spice is made from the plant. Everyone else in the group would be sitting their saying stuff like, “is it turmeric?” The farmer would say, “Yes! It is turmeric!” And I would be thinking, “What the heck is turmeric?” A spice tour is a very, very boring concept if you know nothing about spices or cooking. All it was to me was an hour of beach time lost. The spice tour I took cost $20 including a transfer from Stone Town to Kendwa.

Kendwa, on the north coast, is a quiet and beautiful beach town. The beaches are white sand. The Indian Ocean water is blue and calm, perfect for swimming. Unfortunately I only had a day available in Kendwa. I could have stayed much longer.

I stayed at the Amaan Bungalows. It was $US 30 for a single “sea view.” It was about 20 metres from the beach. They wanted $US 50 for a sea view on the beach, but I decided that the extra $20 wasn’t worth the saved 40 steps to the beach. Very nice place – hot water, beds with mosquito nets, fan, AC. A beach bar and restaurant is on the property. Food is a little pricey.

The biggest complaint I have with Amaan is that they refused to take 30,000 shillings for the $US 30 charge. The insisted on 33,300 shillings based on their exchange rate. Even though I had to leave early the next day and would miss breakfast, they still wouldn’t budge.

I also checked out Kendwa Rocks next door. They were a little cheaper than Amaan Bungalows, but didn’t have any singles available. I liked the architecture at Kendwa Rocks better – the thatch hut look rather than the stucco bungalow look, but that’s just window dressing. I have heard that Kendwa Rocks can get a little rowdy at night – they do host full moon parties.

Let me know if you have any questions,

2. Posted by Peter (Admin 5790 posts) 11y

Hey Greg,

Welcome back !! Glad to see you back in one piece after those adventures.. !

A classic story my dad has told (many many times) is from the days when he was in the merchant navy. They used to be able to smell Zanzibar before they could see it, because the smell of cloves was so strong!! Just wondering, did you notice it much? Of course, it may have only been at certain times of the year.

Cheers, Peter

3. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 11y

I didn't smell the cloves much, but there is probably a couple of reasons for that. From what I remember of the spice tour, the cloves were not well developed at the time. They were just really small buds. Also, the majority of the clove production now takes place on Pemba island, to the north of the main Zanzibar island (called Unguja). I was not on Pemba. I think they said Pemba was almost 90% spice plantations.