Zanzibar – Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

Tag: Destinations, Tanzania   Type: | |
February 3, 2013   No Comments

After boarding a tiny 6-seater (including pilot and co-pilot!) plane from the game reserve back to Dar, we then luckily walked across the runway to board our connecting flight to Zanzibar. The plane doors were about to close but they said we could squeeze in, resulting in Carly taking the co-pilot seat next to the captain. Again no safety announcements, no passport check, we were delighted we could just hop on and off the planes without any fuss!

It’s a short 20 mins flight across to Zanzibar where we were met by our driver who drove us around 40 minutes to the coast and our resort, Matemwe Beach Village. The resort sits within a very poor, rustic, meagre village but does employ some of the villagers. There is a laid-back and relaxing vibe to the lodge, with a lovely pool and bar area and an excellent restaurant. On our last night we were treated to dinner on the beach, within a secluded hut, underneath the stars, which was a real treat. Our room was fairly basic and could do with a freshen up but on the whole the communal areas of the resort are very nice.

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

The pretty pathway through Matemwe Beach Village.

The long white stretch of sandy beach is inviting, with fishing boats moored on the beach and local women picking seaweed to sell at the town markets. You are advised not to give money to hawkers or children but we were only encountered by 1 guy trying to sell us a snorkelling tour, which we declined, so we felt relatively safe strolling along the beach. Women should be respectful of the local Muslim customs and should try to cover shoulders and knees out of respect.

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

The beach next to Matemwe Beach Village, Zanzibar - gorgeous!

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

Relaxing outside our room at Matemwe Beach Village. One of the cheaper rooms but still decent enough.

We arranged a diving trip within the resort, which was very good – plenty of wonderful, colourful fish. We saw several dolphins from the boat but sadly not under the water – too quick. We were happy to be guided during both dives, within a mixed ability group of 6, and our guide was good at pointing out the various underwater delights. The diving was excellent – up there with the great barrier reef.

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

The two-level pool at Matemwe Beach Village - really peaceful

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Our last afternoon and evening was spent in the capital of Zanzibar, Stone Town. Our accommodation, Kisiwa House was absolutely stunning and lay claim to being the oldest town house in Stone Town. The boutique hotel was decadently decorated with Arabian and African ornaments and furnishings and is situated right in the heart of the city.

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

The doors of Stone Town are a key attraction here. The metal studs were to repel elephants.

Luckily we arranged a walking tour with our driver who’d driven us to Stone Town from Matemwe, as I doubt we would have been able to navigate around the tiny, pedestrian-only lanes, on our own. Walking around the city you get a feel for the numerous different cultures that have come to form modern-day Zanzibar, including Arabian and Indian architecture, particularly prevalent on ornate doors, which depict scenes to indicate the trade of the person living at that house as well as the occupant’s ethnicity. Despite being a World Heritage Site, several of the town’s houses – made from coral stone – are in a state of decay, some having collapsed completely and with only a few being faithfully restored.

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

An ancient door within the town of Stone Town, Zanzibar, with some unexpected guests on the door step!

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

An English colonial buiding in Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town was used as a trading port for many things, such as spices, but it was also used as a slave market, with slaves being sold primarily to Asia. There is a slave museum which includes some of the original holding rooms, which are dark, claustrophobic and stifling.

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

Entering the slave chambers

Our guide informed us that 50-70 men, women and children would be chained together within these rooms, with barely any room to move and only tiny windows to provide fresh air. All rather sobering. On the site also stands an Anglican church which was built after the abolition, and a monument within the grounds, which uses some of the original slave chains.

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

The slave monument, at East Africa's stave capital- Stone Town Zanzibar

 Zanzibar   Sunshine of Matemwe & Slave history of Stone Town

The brutal shackles of slavery in Stone Town

Next we visited the Darajani Market, which was hectic, vibrant, fragrant (and fishy!) and loud – selling all types of food, especially spices, as well as clothes, ornaments and gifts. There were also several historical buildings that we stopped by, including David Livingstone’s house, The Palace Museum, The Old Fort and Tippu Tip’s house, who was a former slave trader.

Summary of Zanzibar
We felt we had a perfect balance of relaxation (beach-time), activity (diving), and culture (Stone Town) at Zanzibar and loved every minute. In conjunction with the safari trip to Lake Manze, this was a great week in Tanzania. A real treat – expensive but great value for money!



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