Twas early October 2017, when my partner and I decided that a romantic getaway was needed, but given our conflicting schedules it took some time to pencil in vacation dates. Patience eventually paid off, once the busyness settled, and January 2018 had proven to be a winner.
Time wasn’t on our side, so had to quickly lean on my go-to reference for visa free countries and Zanzibar fit the island paradise bill, with its 24/7 ideal holiday weather and pristine beaches.
Off we went!
Yellow fever card(visit to nearest Travel Clinic highly recommended), otherwise entry into Tanzania would be denied.
WHERE TO STAY
Used www.booking.com to search for accommodation, Paje and Jambiani were the top two area options for us, as they were far out and offered the desired privacy. It also meant that we we could walk from one beach to the other.
The beautiful and luxurious, beach location Sharazad Boutique Hotel was our home away from home. Stayed in a villa with a private plunge pool, veranda and cozy bed.
$1 = 2250.45 Tanzanian Shilling. We opted to transact in Dollars, as most establishments accepted major currencies (hotels to informal traders.)
An average of about 7 hour sunshine occurs in Zanzibar daily. Perfect for beachwear and cover-ups for night time.
Shuttles were organised through the hotel. I would not advise car hire as the cars are old and navigation between the city and villages can be a bit tricky. Furthermore, only the locals know how to maneuver around the potholed roads.
Mouth-watering seafood was the order of the day.
Often ate at our hotel’s restaurant, because a wide variety of options were offered on both the set menu and daily specials. Every devoured dish was fresh and insanely delicious.
Terrace Restaurant at Maru Maru, a rooftop setting in the heart of Stone Town, was indeed a memorable experience, the Lobster and Octopus on their seafood platter was immaculate.
SAFARI BLUE TOUR
This was a guided day trip worth all its buzz in Zanzibar.
Drivers pick you up from your hotel to Fumba. You pick snorkeling gear, then get on a Dhow(handcrafted Swahili boat), the water adventure starts with a picnic stop at a Sand Bank(isolated beach with warm turquoise waters), followed by snorkeling, a quick dip at Blue Lagoon and ends with a Seafood BBQ on Kwale Island where one could do some market shopping and chat to other travelers and some of the locals.
Zanzibar cloves and spices contribute significantly to its agricultural wealth, thus found our visit to a spice farm to be quite interesting.
Through the sense of smell and touch, we learned about everything between Cinnamon, Tumeric and Durian. We had the opportunity to buy some spices, neatly packaged in Zanzibar map, fish and tortoise shapes.
Wrapped up the experience with a crowning ceremony, where we were bejewelled with palm leaves and flowers.
Lively bazaars, winding alleys, primeval mosques and magnificent Arab houses makeup its rich history.
Spotted the Slave Trade Museum, House of Wonders the first house to have an elevator running water and electricity in East Africa, as well as The Old Fort which happens to be the oldest building in Zanzibar.
This ancient city is ideal for shopping, with its many outlets and markets.
The highlight of my trip was not only bonding with my partner, but also having found a connection with the locals.
Do add this to your list of places to visit!
Overwhelmed by work and everything else in life, I looked at solo traveler options.
Bali was an immediate attraction, given its rich character and that one can go from beach to rainforest to mountain all within a couple of hours. In terms of weather, May, June and July were highlighted as the best times to visit, so mid-May I headed out to explore.
A Visa is not required for visits less than 30 days, otherwise there are facilities to pay for a Visa on Arrival at the airport.
WHERE TO STAY
I chose Akana Boutique Hotel in Sanur, a leafy suburb in Bali as my spot. It was quieter than the more popular locations like Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud which are crowded. Also, it having everything on one long street, made it appeal to me more (think Parkhurst.)
R1 = 1027.37 Indonesian Rupiah. Mostly used Dollars as my major currency, as it was also accepted in most formal establishments e.g. tourist places, private drivers and money changers.
A little trick that also helped me keep track of my expenditure was treating every purchase as if it were in Rands, because the Idonesion Rupiah denomination allows you to do that e.g. 150 000 IDR = roughly R150.
Average temperature of 28°C. Pack lightly and have lots of sunscreen.
Organised myself a private driver by the name of Mr Berno, as this allowed me to navigate freely and in comfort. I'm willing to share his contact details with interested parties. Off days saw me riding a bike around the neighbourhood as they were free to use at the hotel.
I tend to be fussy about what I eat, the best thing I did was book myself a cooking class at Paon Bali Cooking Class, to learn about the local food culture. This was a wonderful experience and I'd recommend it to anyone as the hosts were awesome and food preparation process really informative and great tasting. The class started off with a 20min visit to Ubud market to learn about traditional Balinese ingredients.
Mostly ate at the hotel restaurant and consulted TripAdvisor on a number of occasions to identify top rated restaurants wherever I was. The ones that stood out for me where Malaika Secret Moksha for it's organic take on Indian food, food presentation and FRESH KEY LIME PIE and Ristorante Massimo for its sorbets, gelato and pastas.
TEGAL WANGI BEACH
A hidden gem, its beauty goes beyond white sand, clear blue water and cliff views of amazing sunsets. Saw a lot of pre-wedding shoots here.
The high tide doesn't make it nice for swimming, but it's a dope location for pictures(took this pic with my phone and it still came out proper.
ELEPHANT CAMP IN UBUD
Bali elephant riding was scratched off the list. I'd give this experience a whopping 4/5(animals weren't chained and the staff was friendly.) Jimi's back was firm (yes, as in Hendrix) and I felt safe going on an adventurer's short trek. He's currently 35 years old and planning to retire at age 65, as humans do 😂
Also, had a chat with his handler, who told me that it takes 1-3 years of 30min daily training sessions for elephants to get ready for trekking. Can you spell PATIENCE? If only I could adopt this discipline to all gym related matters lol
CAMEL RIDING AT METASARI BEACH
Here's to a first, the ride was a lot smoother than I expected and no, the hump is not squishy lol. Also, check how the Camels are serving serious face game, competition was really tight. Definitely an experience I won't forget.
KEBUNE BALI ARGOTOURIST
A tropical agriculture and coffee roasting facility.Tasted a selection of coffee and tea varieties for FREE and top it up with a Kopi Luwak (Balinese special coffee, process involves Asian palm civets defecating part-digested coffee cherries) for a few Rupiahs, and the deal was sealed. Everything tasted awesome.
- Professional photoshoot with a local photographer ADW Photography Bali
- Parasailing in Tanjung Benoa.
- Visiting Tegenungan Waterfall.
- Sunrise at Tegalang rice terraces.
- Island Indulgence package at The Nest Beachside Spa.
- Bali Bon Bon chocolate tasting, they have great tasting pralines.
- Shopping: There are lots of markets and boutiques in Bali, I shopped at random lol
Enjoy planning your trips!