Zanzibar: The Journey There

It was clear and cold at 4:30 AM, and I was glad I decided to wear a long sleeved shirt, when the cab picked us up. The stars twinkled brightly overhead as we made our way to the airport. In just 24 hours we would arrive on the tropical island of Zanzibar.

After a bloody nightmare of late visas and cancelled flights, John and I decided to travel to Zanzibar and back together. It meant twelve whole nights sleeping in the same bed. Win!

Getting to just about anywhere from Namibia is a challenge, and going to Zanzibar is a two-day journey. That being said, our six hour layover in Joburg was surprisingly comfortable. At the advice of our friends, we paid $50 to spend a few hours in an airport lounge that offered food, drinks, wifi and showers. Totally worth it, and recommended for any travelers transiting through OR Tambo.

We arrived in Dar es Salaam, the capitol and largest city of Tanzania just as the sun set. The thick equatorial air and lush green landscapes were a far departure from our usual dry and sandy Namibia. A short cab ride to our hotel took us past dozens of mini buses packed to the brim with people making their way home, and plenty of people waiting or sprinting across the road. It reminded me a lot of when we first arrived in Cairo– the people, animals, buses and taxi cabs all deftly maneuvering around each other in a crazy dance that somehow all worked out.

Later in the evening, our hotel concierge was kind enough to show us the nearest ATM…a ten minute walk away. We wound our way through side streets and alleyways, dodging the small canals of standing water that lined each street. One of the first things that struck me in Dar was the darkness. No street lights and hardly any apartment lights from above. It was really dark, with the exception of a few shops and doorways casting a faint orange glow onto the dirt streets.

The next morning, we boarded a Grand Caravan and took a 20 minute flight over to Zanzibar. Our pilot Mohammed hopped in and, without a word to the passengers, started the thing up and we took off. TIA.

Some Important Details About Traveling to Tanzania:

  • Be sure to bring your Yellow Fever card and have it handy when you arrive
  • You can pay for things in USD, but be sure the bills are newer than 2010, and without tears
  • The visa for US passport holders is $100 USD. For everyone else, it’s only $50 (WTF, I know)
  • Although Malaria is not a huge risk, people do get it, and it’s worth taking anti-malarial medicine before you travel

Stay tuned for Zanzibar highlights and photos soon!

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