Mary visits Spice Island Zanzibar – November 2011

Game viewing can be tiring and the idea of following a safari with some beach time is an attractive one to many people, but where should one go?

Zanzibar is one option which combines easily with a safari in either Kenya or Tanzania. It is a destination which evokes images of endless white beaches, exotic spice farms and architecture in Stone Town which reflects the various cultures which have held sway over the island. So whether you wish to ‘flop on a beach’ or be more active and soak up the atmosphere of this historic island, Zanzibar is both convenient and rewarding.

The island has seen a lot of development over past years and now offers a wide variety of different accommodation styles from owner run guest houses and small hotels, such as Echo Beach Hotel, Shooting Star, Unguja Lodge and the ever popular Pongwe Beach Hotel, through the established mid-range hotels such as Breezes Beach Club & Spa, Matemwe Lodge and Ras Nungwi Beach Hotel, to the first class opulence offered by the Palms, Baraza Resort and Kilindi, and the two new kids on the block – The Residence Zanzibar and Essque Zalu.

Every day does not have to be spent on the beach however. Zanzibar offers world class diving and snorkelling, dolphin watching tours, spice farm tours, visits to Jozani Forest in search of the rare red colobus monkey and tours of the capital, Stone Town.

Close to Zanzibar are also several exotic island hideaways. Mnemba Island (off the north-east coast) is absurdly wonderful with a price tag to match, whilst Chumbe Island (off the south-west coast) offers a more down to earth ‘eco-stay’ with fantastic snorkelling.

All in all, Zanzibar has much to offer and is still less busy, more culturally interesting and a rather ‘more sleepy’ beach destination than the well known coastal resorts of Kenya.

For incredible value for money, and an itinerary that really gives you the best of both ‘bush and beach’, consider combining the outstanding Selous Game Reserve with one of Zanzibar’s affordable beach lodges. For anyone keen on maximising their opportunities on safari, the wonderfully remote Ruaha National Park can also be included. Selous, Ruaha and Zanzibar……….now that is a fantastic combination of experiences!