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Posts Tagged 'zanzibar'

Zanzibar to Johannesburg - The Overland Trip Experience

Monday, December 12th, 2011
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Anyone visiting Africa might wonder, where do rangers go when they have holidays? Well, Africa is still the perfect place! I decided to become a safari guide after travelling to Africa on overlanding trips and have now made South Africa home. By keeping in contact with friends and family over Facebook I was invited to enter a competition by Overlanding Africa that could lead to winning a trip from Zanzibar to Johannesburg. What do you know, I won! Starting out on the beaches of Zanzibar, I was introduced to my group. We swam with turtles, we drank cocktails in hammocks on the beach, my camera even decided to take a trip without me around a local village before making its way back… luckily unharmed.

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Above: Zanzibar Beach

Many days were spent driving through the vast expanses that Africa is known for but this meant that everyone in the truck was forced to interact to keep each other amused – and this is where friendships are made. This is what overlanding is mostly about and why people will always come back to this style of travel. It’s the people - everyone travelling together, initially as strangers and then leaving as friends. You can visit some fantastic places and see wonderful things but you know you’re going to meet some great individuals along the way. Malawi, too, is all about the people and, of course Lake Malawi, or “Ocean Malawi” – so big you can’t see the other side. Being able to meet a witch doctor on these shores was a highlight. Apparently I’ll be married within 3 years with 3 children and a successful career, great stuff! But it was surprising just how moving it was seeing the children around there. Tweedie09_LakeMalawi Tweedie05_MeWithWitchDoctor

Above: Left - Lake Malawi / Right - Alex Tweedie with a witch doctor

As we walked through little villages the younger children, not old enough to be in school, would yell out “The muzungus* are coming!” as they would crowd around and reach for your hand (or belt loop as I gathered a growing brood of 6 children at one point). On the shores of the lake we collected sunbeams and discovered “Exotic Fanta” during games of “Funny Bunny.” The favouritism of Exotic Fanta was only lost over the border in Zambia when a new drink “Janta” was discovered. It’s often about the little things when you travel, the stories that come out that often only your group will ever understand. Janta came about during a Birthday Cruise on the Zambezi. With drinks aplenty, the sun shining after the first storm of the season and birthday hats and party blowers for everyone we watched as the sun set over elephants crossing the Zambezi. It even overtook the fact that my tent got completely flooded – Janta can cure all of your woes apparently.

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Above: Children in Malawi Livingstone

On the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe is the centre for an adrenaline rush related activity you can think of, the most well known of these is the bungee jump over Victoria Falls. As I had done this previously, I didn’t feel the need to go again but went to support the overlanders who were tempted. Even those that came for moral support along with me ended up jumping by the end of our visit! For some it can prove a life changing moment of overcoming fears (or in the case of a friend, realise that your fears are not of heights… rather of bridges). For others it is a pure excitement of living in the moment! I often get told to “bring out the Indiana Jones in yourself” at work, and this is a prime example –WWID, What Would Indy Do? For the quieter types, there are always options available, high tea overlooking Victoria Falls rather than jumping might be more to the liking of some (the scones are worth it I hear!). With the mix of people, you’ll get reviews first hand of places to consider going to on your next visit.

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Above: Livingston Waterfront

Seeing the wildlife from the point of view of a guest rather than the ranger is something not to be taken for granted in my line of work and the possibility for wildlife sightings on an overlanding trip is unlimited. Of course you’re at an advantage having someone with knowledge of the environment around you rather than going it alone, and most guides have travelled the routes numerous times and gained an insight into the workings of each location – natural world and otherwise.

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Above: Stalls in Victoria Falls

Chobe and Kruger were the stand outs for wildlife on this tour. Botswana’s Chobe National Park provided us with a never-ending supply of elephants, crocodiles, buffalo and hippos on the Sunset Cruise. Red lechwe, water monitors, and amazing birdlife including the rare saddle-billed stork were also located in a photographers dream setting. Taking the land option, Chobe gave us many other animals but the brief sightings of wild dogs and sable made the day for this little ranger. It doesn’t have to be the big things to make it memorable. In Kruger National Park, probably South Africa’s most famous National Park, watching a dragonfly in love with a backpack or reacting to a very cheeky vervet monkey who had a taste for Doritos (inside our vehicle!) were just as fun as seeing the rhinos and elephants not five-minutes from the gate. Buffalo, mating lions a fantastic Giant Eagle Owl spotted by one eagle-eyed guest, were some of the other delights of the day. With the final evening at hand, we said hesitant farewells around the fire and blessed Facebook for an easy method of keeping in contact. Many of the group since being on the tour have already caught up further in their travels again in various places around the world – South Africa, Brazil, Australia to name a few. Although some may have gone straight home, for others, they’re always travelling. But in this sense it makes a tour like this even more memorable – now you have more friends to either live vicariously or to plan your next adventure with!

Check out the itinerary and book the

Zanzibar to Johannesburg trip here

Post written by Guest Blogger Alex Tweedie

Tweedie05_MeWithWitchDoctor

Alex is an Aussie expat now living in South Africa as a Field Guide (ie. ranger). She has travelled extensively through Southern and Eastern Africa on a number of overlanding trips as well as taking people around the lowveld of South Africa herself. *foreigner or white person

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Tags: adventure, chobe, experience, kruger, win, zanzibar


Zanzibar Weddings, Sultans, Princesses and Mythical Characters

Monday, October 10th, 2011
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A couple of friends and I were invited to a gorgeous wedding in Zanzibar. The secular ceremony, between my Afrikaans friend, Annerie and her Turkish groom, Ekin, were held at the Mbweni Ruins while the big festival was on the beach at Mtoni Marine. As a symbol of their journey through life, the couple sailed 45 minutes on a dhow from Mbweni to Mtoni Marine.

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The Mbweni Ruins were originally a school for freed slave girls, built by the UMCA on the 30 acres of land called Mbweni Point Shamba which was bought by Bishop Tozer and Dr Edward Steere on September 8th, 1871. It was called St Mary’s school for girls. A “colony” or village of slaves freed by the British dhow-chasing ships was set up around it, each family having a plot of land big enough to build a house with a small vegetable garden. Eventually there were over 250 people living at Mbweni Mission. On the other hand Matoni Marine was called Beit el Mtoni. It was a magnificent palace where Zanzibar's famous princess, Sayyida Salme, the daughter of Sultan Said and Jufidan, a Cirassian Concubine was born.

During our stay two woman inspired me so much that I need to mention them. During the bachelorette (we named it a henna party being a famous craft in Zanzibar) we were introduced to probably one of the most famous celebrities and ambassador of Zanzibar. Bi Kinude, the Taraab ensemble singer that won a world music award in her lifetime. She came walking into the ruins, barefoot and with a cigarette in her mouth. Her 18 piece band followed her. Kinude sat in her chair that overlooked the crowd of young women, eager to be part of the nightly celebrations. Kinude is said to be 106 years old, but her age is still a mystery to everyone. The exact date of her birth is unknown, giving her an almost mythical status.

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Everyone stood in awe as she took the microphone to do what she does best - sing. This frail old woman with iconic slender East African face is recognised as the 'Miriam Makeba' of Zanzibar. As a child, she was singled out for her fine voice and, in the 1920s, sang locally with popular cultural troupes, combining an understanding of music with an equally important initiation into traditional medicine. At the age of 13, after a forced marriage she fled Zanzibar to mainland Tanzania. This remarkable women toured the mainland of East Africa, visiting the major coastal towns and inland as far west as Lake Victoria and Tanganyika. She walked the length and the breadth of the country barefoot in the early 1930's fleeing another unhappy marriage. In the 1930s she ended up in Dar es Salaam where she sang with Egyptian Taarab group for many years. In the 1940s she returned to Zanzibar where she acquired a small mud hut to be her home. She is known for her role in the Unyago movement which prepares young Swahili women for their transition through puberty. She is one of the experts of this ancient ritual, performed only to teenage girls, which uses traditional rhythms to teach women to pleasure their husbands. She also lectures the adolescents about the dangers of sexual abuse and oppression. In 2005 Bi Kidude received the prestigious WOMEX award for her outstanding contribution to music and culture in Zanzibar.

The other woman that made an impact on me is princess Syyida Salme, princess of Zanzibar and Oman. She was the daughter of the sultan of Zanzibar and Oman. Salme wrote the book, Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar (first published in German in 1886). It gives the reader insight into the sultan's harem structure and early living conditions in Zanzibar. While she moved to Stone Town she met her neighbour, a German merchant, Rudolph Heinrich Ruete, and became pregnant by him.

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She fled her country and settled in Hamburg where she was known as Emily Ruete (1844-1924). After 19 years, Emily went back to visit her old country and relive the remembrances of her rich past. However, the noble princess died an ordinary women at the age of 79 in Jean, Germany. In 1992 the book Arabian Princess Between Two Worlds was published about her life. These mystical figures, including Freddie Mercury, roamed the earth of a wonderful island. Article Written by Sophie Te' blance

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Tags: history, zanzibar


Top 5 Zanzibar Overland Trips

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
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Two Tone Ocean, Zanzibar

The island paradise of Zanzibar is the perfect place to end your overland trip after all the dusty roads of east Africa, and to top up that tan before you head back to snowy Europe. Many travellers also make Zanzibar their last stop after climbing Mt Kilimanjaro and rest their bones on the pristine beaches of this gem off the East African coast. Combining your game viewing holiday or safari with a few days on the beach is the best way to get the most out of your visit to East Africa.

Zanzibar Tan

We shortlist the top 5 overland trips to Zanzibar just for you...

Nairobi to Dar Es Salaam - 10 day

This tour gives you the opportunity to explore the variety of cultures and wildlife that Tanzania has to offer. A trip to the idyllic island of Zanzibar is a perfect ending!

East Africa Loop - 24 day

This tour offers you the once in a life time opportunity to interact with Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat. You will also experience the luxury of soaking up the sun on the palm lined beaches of the idyllic Zanzibar Island.

Eastern Discoverer - 21 day

One of our most popular tours combines the best of both worlds. From the heart of Africa, via the world famous game parks: Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, to the exotic spice Island of Zanzibar, the crystal clear water of Lake Malawi, ending in Africa's adventure capital Victoria Falls.

Kenya and Tanzania Adventure - 13 day

Combine all the best of East Africa on this short but exciting tour. From 'Big 5' encounters in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater to relaxing days on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar.

Southern Safari - 31 day

Take part in this southbound African adventure from Nairobi to Johannesburg! Experience game drives in Kenya and Tanzania, the beaches of Zanzibar, the thunderous Victoria Falls and the Big 5 in Kruger National Park. For more overland trips to Zanzibar email info@overlandingafrica.com or post your comments below.

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Tags: budget-zanzibar-trip, tanzania-overland-trips, zanzibar


The 5 Best Kept Secrets of Zanzibar

Friday, January 7th, 2011
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Zanzibar Beaches

With its vibrant culture and great diversity of landscapes beneath the tropical East African sky, Zanzibar is Tanzania's ultimate paradise. The turquoise waters along the coast of Zanzibar are teeming with abundant sea life and stunning coral reefs for snorkelling and diving. Besides the narrow winding alleys and jostling bazaars of Stone Town, or the endless white soft-sand beaches with its many idyllic palms, Zanzibar has a few best kept secrets and I’m going to share a few with you.

The Zamani Beach Club Grill and Bar Behold the horizon and beyond. Freshly cut coconut, succulent grilled jumbo prawns and crescents of pearly white sand beach with it's crystal clear waters…  divine! Zamani Beach Club Grill and Bar is open everyday from 10:00 until sunset.

Diving in Zanzibar Top sites include Kizidi Reef, a mini wall just 10 minutes by boat from Kizimkazi – one of Zanzibar’s best-kept secrets. A wonderful display of soft and hard corals, loads and loads of fish including some big groupers and rays, and the occasional turtle make this an excellent spot for snorkelers, novices and experienced divers alike. Look out for the tiny critters such as Leaf fish and cute little Nudibranchs.

Stone Town Fish Market The best and cheapest place to eat in Stone Town, if not Zanzibar, is at the open air fish market in the Forodhani Gardens on the waterfront. The smell might put you off but definitely a must see as its a great look at local life in Zanzibar. Opens at night.

The House of Wonders The House of Wonders is home to the Museum of History and Culture of Zanzibar and the Swahili Coast. The building is the largest in all of Stone Town - four stories with huge verandas. It takes you through Swahili history, culture, and economy - from the beginning days to present. Visit this early on during your stay so you can appreciate better the experience of being in Zanzibar.

Sunset Bar at Africa House Hotel With history dating back 150 years the Africa House Hotel boasts previous owners who were a wealthy slave trader from Oman, and the Sultan of Zanzibar. From the Sunset Bar on the first floor you can chill out and relax, drink in hand, and watch the colorful sun set over the ocean while fishermen glide by in their dhows. Stunning. For further information on East Africa, Zanzibar or overland trips in Tanzania contact OverlandingAfrica.com or post your comments below.

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Tags: tanzania, top-5-beaches, zanzibar, zanzibar-island


Top 10 Tanzania Highlights

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
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Ngorongoro Crater Game Drive

Have you ever ridden a camel or swum with dolphins? Why not?

From snorkeling in some of the clearest Zanzibar water, to following the footprints of lions on a game drive in the Serengeti - Tanzania has it all!

The excitement of a hot air balloon safari is rivaled only by being within a car length of a Big 5 animal whilst on a game drive. Achieve the ultimate and climb Kilimanjaro or have 'High Tea' complete with scones, jam and cream at a local tea plantation. Enough adventure for one day?

Head out on a dhow and sip on cocktails while watching the sun set over the azure waters of the Zanzibar archipelago. Sounds good?

Check out the Top 10 Tanzania Highlights: - Ride a Camel in Arusha - Trek Mt Kilimanjaro - View game in the Ngorongoro Crater - See the migration herds in the Serengeti National Park - Have fun on the Stone Town Spice Tour - Swim with Dolphins in Zanzibar - Scuba dive the crystal clear Zanzibar waters - Sail in a dhow and go snorkeling - See the tea plantations near Iringa - Take a balloon ride in the Amboseli National Park

For trips that cover these awesome highlights contact us at www.overlandingafrica.com

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Tags: budget-safari, budget-trips, highlights, serengeti, tanzania, zanzibar