I’ve been lucky enough to do a couple of cool trips this year. During Feb I went to Zanzibar, in April I did Afrikaburn (for the very first time) and then most recently I visited Vietnam. So in order to share some of my travelling/festivaling tips with you, I’m going to be doing a “Travel Thursdays” series over the next 2 months, starting with my Zanzibar trip.
There’s quite a lot to tell about Zanzibar though, so I’m going to be splitting it into 3 posts: One focusing on where I stayed, the second focusing on the Safari Blue tour I did, and the 3rd focusing on my Stone Town & Spice farm tour.
As far as the best time to visit Zanzibar goes, the recommendation is to either go during the cool, dry months of spring (so around August onwards) and then again during their hot, dry summer months (Dec – Feb). But to be fair, it really is a case of summer-like temperatures all year round, you really just want to avoid their two rainy seasons which takes place from mid-March to late May and then again in November. Everything else should be all good.
Getting there is actually super easy because Mango Airlines flies between Johannesburg and Zanzibar on Tuesdays & Saturdays and it’s a quick 4 hr flight. The only catch is that the outgoing flight leaves at 7am, so if you’re flying in from Cape Town, it’s best to fly in the night before and spend the night in JHB in order to catch that morning flight. On the way back you leave Zanzibar at 1pm and arrive in JHB at 4pm (there’s a 1 hour time difference between us and Tanzania), so it’s still pretty easy to catch another flight to Cape Town and be home that evening.
At the time my flight cost came to R6273.72. But I had a look this week and you’re currently looking at approx R3300 – R3900 each way. So best to just keep an eye on it.
Other things to note: South African’s do not require a visa & if you want to arrange forex before, take US dollars with you (small denominations if possible) – Tz shillings are hard to come by here in SA.
For my accommodation I used a company called Barefoot Breaks. I used them for the first time a few years back when I went to Mozambique and I was so impressed with their service I just knew they’d be my first choice again this time round.
Barefoot Breaks specialises in “Chic and Intimate Beach Hideaways” focusing on the following locations: Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mozambique, Seychelles & Zanzibar. What really stands out is that they different offer hotel/resort/lodge options than most other travel agencies and that they’ve personally visited each one in order to give you their honest feedback about the pros and cons of each.
For example, the Flight Centre/Thomspons/etc deals at the time were all punting the same 3 or 4 resorts. But when you had a look at their more recent Tripadvisor reviews, it wasn’t looking great. So that’s why I decided to stay clear of these.
I was booking very last minute, and during high season, so my options were a bit limited, but I finally settled on Fumba Beach Lodge. Fumba is located on the south-west coast which is the most remote, secluded part of the island. Most tourists flock to the East & North coasts as this is where the sand is the whitest and the number of resorts are endless. But I liked the fact that Fumba was more out of the way. They are also located on forty acres of the Menai Bay Conservation Area & they have their own private stretch of beach. This means that you don’t have to deal with locals trying to sell you all kinds of stuff while you’re trying to zone out. After chatting to a few people I realised that this was a much bigger plus than it seemed as apparently the beach trade is quite intense in other areas.
This was the feedback I had received from Barefoot Breaks:
Fumba Beach Lodge is remote, secluded, beautiful and tranquil it epitomises the kind of lodge we love! They do lovely little dinners in different places each night, sometimes on the beach, and they have loads of cosy, comfortable nooks to relax and soak up the sun and paradise vibes all around you. All rooms and the lodge are beautiful and rustic. The lodge is perfectly located for excursions which generally start from Stone Town.
And on their website, they listed the following pros & cons:
- Pro: Beautiful isolated position means you’re miles from any other resorts – you could almost be on your own little island
- Pro: Watch the sun setting over the sea (very unusual as this is one of the few lodges on the west coast) while sipping a cocktail at the dhow bar
- Pro: Baobab Suites have to be seen to be believed – perhaps the most memorable bathrooms we’ve experienced anywhere!
- Pro: New dive school and Spa promise to add even more interest
- Con: Could be too isolated for travellers looking for more action
- Con: Nice beaches – but not the palm lined expanses of sand to be found on the east coast
Isolated was definitely not a con for me. I was there to relax. Plus Stone Town was just an easy 30min drive away, so I could just hop into a taxi if I wanted more action. So it was settled – Fumba was going to be my Zanzibar home.
At first I was going to travel with a friend, so they provided me with the following quote (this is including return airfares ex JNB, pre-payable airport taxes, transfers & accommodation with breakfast & dinner daily):
- 7 Nights from R 16 950 per person sharing in a Garden View Room / R 18 131 per person sharing in a Deluxe Ocean View Room
But then my friend could no longer make it and I decided to just fly solo, which of course meant I’d had to pay a single supplement:
- 7 Nights from R 19 905 for a single Garden View Room / R 20 693 for a Single Deluxe Ocean View Room
Remember: I booked very last minute – like less than 2 weeks before & this was during peak season – so if you start shopping around early, you’re bound to find a much better deal. Just use this as a rough guideline.
I decided to pay the small extra fee to have a ocean view room and it was worth every cent. Now let me give you my grand tour of Fumba Beach Lodge….Some other things worth noting:
- There is Wifi – but only in a dedicated wifi zone, so not in the rooms. The remote location does mean that high-tech luxuries aren’t that easy to find.
- The Safari Blue tour (which I’ll tell you about in my next post) departs right next to the lodge, so that’s super convenient.
- The staff & management team are super friendly. Like seriously, nicer people would be extremely hard to find. They made my stay extra special indeed.
So yeah, I would definitely recommend Fumba if you’re looking for something a little different. But you can also have a look at the other Zanzibar options offered via Barefoot Breaks over here. There’s some fancier options if you’re wanting to splurge, or even a few lower budget options if needed.
Next week: I show you what happens on a Safari Blue tour.