Splendour and poverty of Zanzibar 06.12.2020
“Don't go, children, To walk to Africa. In Africa, a robber, In Africa villain, In Africa, terrible Bar-ma-lei!”.
(с) Korney Chukovsky.
Honestly, I have no big feelings for Africa and have never considered African countries as tourist destinations. Even Malta which is 300 km away from the African continent, was more than enough for me. But the year 2020 had come, and the coronavirus story happened. Europe and Canada were closed. The US had elections, and the Black Lives Matter movement wasn't making it better. I had no desire to go to Turkey for a "Tagil!" style holiday. The UAE has a problem with logistics to the beaches, and hotels that are close to the beaches are insanely expensive. So all that was left was Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar, where we went to.
We were not asked to get vaccinated before flying to Zanzibar. But vaccinations are necessary. Zanzibar has both malaria and yellow fever. These two diseases are spread by such tiny mosquitoes, abundant in Zanzibar, and insect repellent does not help. They will bite you anyway. There used to be sleeping sickness, but it seems to have been dealt with there. I do not know where to get vaccinated because, for example, in Chuvashia, you cannot even get a malaria test anywhere. There are medicines and normal medics, but as I understood yesterday, medicine no longer exists. It may be easier in Moscow, Kazan and St. Petersburg. But it is better not to go there without vaccinations, whatever tour operators say. By the way, from communication with the representatives of our tour operator, I concluded their zero professional aptitude.
I cannot say anything about COVID-19 there. Officially, there is no coronavirus over there. No one wears masks, but the medicine is much worse in Zanzibar than in Chuvashia, and 90% of the local population has no access to any medical assistance at all. Therefore, COVID-19 may be there, but it is simply not diagnosed. Representatives of tour operators will also tell you that there is no COVID-19 in Zanzibar due to the hot climate. Please don't believe them. It's even hotter in Miami, and people are being struck down by COVID-19 there.
So you've got vaccinated, flown over the equator, seen from the window the majestic volcano Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria and landed at Abeid Amani Karuma International Airport on the island of Unguja in the Zanzibar Archipelago. You should be ready to lose two hours to get your visa. An important point about visa payment. It is better to pay the visa fee in cash or by a dollar card. The fee upon conversion in Zanzibar is unbelievable, and in case you pay $50 for the visa with a ruble card, you may see a charge of 6000 rubles or even more. As a result, after 2 hours of agony, you will get a stamp on your passport, allowing three months stay in Tanzania. Then it is better to change your currency and buy a SIM card right away. Moreover, the best option is to do this at the kiosks in front of the airport. The current exchange rate of local currency is 2310 shillings to 1 US dollar.
Next, you will be taken to your hotel. Pretty nice hotels are located in Kendwa and Kizimkazi. This is the west coast of the island, and the tides are not big at all there. On the east coast, you won't be able to see the ocean for half a day.
Hotels come in all shapes and sizes. For example, there is Residence Kizimkazi, where you can be checked for a bomb under the bonnet at the entrance. The hotel interior is ready to compete with the most fashionable hotels in Europe. Telling the truth, you will have to drive half an hour along the bumpy country road to get there, avoiding the herds of local goats. There are more modest options for accommodation, where you will have a bungalow with air conditioning and a shower. There is another option, a bed in shared rooms under the roof, called Hostels. A big plus is that almost all hotels are on the oceanfront. But if you do not live in Kizimkazi, Kendwa or Nungwi, you will not see the ocean as often as you want, anyway. Yes, as for Nungwi. They usually take all "Russo touristo" there. So if you are interested in a Turkey-like place in Zanzibar, you are most welcome.
If you are just interested in having a nice time only, you can stay in the hotel, if it is OK. The hotel may arrange some excursions. For example, you can swim with dolphins or sail to an uninhabited island for a picnic. I also warn you that it is better to take care of your skin in advance if you plan to be in the sun for a long time. My misadventures in Zanzibar started exactly when I got sunburnt after spending a day in the Indian Ocean. The sun in Zanzibar is very harsh, and you have to be very careful with it.
You can also walk around the hotel's area and see how the locals live. The poverty I have seen in Zanzibar is unmatched, although I don't travel around poor countries. The locals are very friendly, though. I have only encountered very cheeky beach boys in Stone Town, the island's capital. The locals are much better in Kizimkazi.
You can also stop by the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park. Cute red colobus monkeys are living there. But I advise you to walk through the forest strictly with a guide and to wear boots. There are black and green mambas in the woods. If you are bitten by one, you can be saved only by applying a serum, which should be injected not more than 10 minutes after the bite. A mamba bite is 100% fatal. And yes, I've seen the green mamba there.
The main danger of the ocean is sea urchins. Zanzibar has an untold number of them. So wear your reef flip-flops. The urchins are deadly for allergy sufferers. A person will immediately go into anaphylactic shock. A close encounter with a sea urchin will deprive an average person of rest for three days.
As for alcohol, it is better to drink the local Konyagi, a mix of gin and anise vodka. You can also find the local vodka KVANT. The alcohol is of high quality, and you won't get a hangover.
A holiday in Zanzibar can be pretty enjoyable. However, you should understand that this is not Europe and not Turkey, and it's necessary to take your vacation in equatorial Africa very seriously. You must get vaccinated, your skin must be prepared for the very harsh sun, and you must not hang out anywhere in Zanzibar, as it is deadly. At the same time, it's best to stay away from your fellow "Tagil" compatriots. On the way back, "Russo touristo" of the "Tagil" kind put up a tough fight right on the flight. To be more precise, one crazy man slightly injured a passenger for reasons which are still not quite clear. As a result, "guests" from the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs came on board when we arrived in Kazan.
As for me, Africa is not my cup of tea. I can't live in a country where there are no supermarkets, but a bunch of deadly dangers, lurking around every corner)) Travelling to Tanzania was a challenge. And by the way, my wife loved it. Luckily, she's not affected by the African sun or afraid of mosquitoes. And the Indian Ocean is the perfect place to learn to swim if you bypass sea urchins.)) On the other hand, I should be thinking very seriously about my immunity since equatorial Africa ended up being even worse for my health this year than North America last year.