I Put a Vacation in my Vacation – Zanzibar Week

Zanzibar. We’ve been hearing about places so much on this trip, I now no longer know if I knew about this place before I came or not… But I definitely did not know it was off the coast of Tanzania, and an island paradise akin to Hawaii or the Cairns area of Australia, but that’s pretty much what it is. Also, expensive… At least by African standards!

I was looking for a way to avoid the 7 day section of dirt from Arusha to Mbeya, mostly because I’m sick of almost dying on the dirt downhills with my roadie brakes, and Zanzibar seemed like a neat place to try out. Once I found out Sigrid was going, it was an easy decision since I wouldn’t be all alone!

I flew direct from Arusha Airport (not Kilimanjaro’s airport) and straight to Zanzibar on one of the smallest planes I’ve been on.

The motorbike guy was there at the airport and I easily got hold of my 250cc honda dirt bike. After a quick stop at the bank to get money to pay him, he walked off and I motorbiked for the first time since 2005, all the way across the island to my hotel in Paje, where Sigrid and friends were staying. They’d spent a whole day relaxing already and were waiting to party that night, but after some food I kind of passed out for a couple hours, missing the party, but waking up in time to have my very first trans-continental phone call of the whole trip! Actually, the second… the first was boring and to my bank, but it was awesome to chat with Danielle back home and plan out a few months of adventures once I return to Canada! I also decided to cut my trip just a tad short since I was spending so much money doing these side trips and come home in time to do the Golden Triangle, a 3 day bike trip through BC on May Long weekend. I’m so stupid, right? I have two days off when I get home, then back to cycle touring! haha. I did it last year, my first and only trip on a bike until this one! 320 km over 3 days sounds so wimpy now, hehe… But it’ll be amazing, fun, and friend-filled! UCTCers, you guys out there? Sign up! It was fun last year! 😀

Day 2 I headed back to Zanzibar Town, to the old section called Stone Town, which is now a world heritage site… Was very pretty and fun, had some great food, ran into Sigrid and friends, and left the city motoring through the alleys of Stone Town, feeling like I was in a James Bond movie as the alleys and turns were very tight and people had to move out of my way to make it through… One of the funnest things I’ve done! Getting back was a bit harrowing though, as sun set while I was out without any glasses but my sunnies. Without them, bugs filled my eyes at high speed and with them, I couldn’t see much past the outline of the road. GAH. Made it though, no incidents.

Day 3 – 5 kind of blends together in a great time of relaxing, reading (started and finished Amanda Lindhout’s House in the Sky book about her kidnapping and torture in Somalia (along with a memoir of her life before that time – helps me respect her a bit more than before for the crazy decision to goto Somalia in the first place) – great book by the way), meeting new friends (a brief interlude on that in a second), snorkeling with dolphins, and visiting a forest reserve where endemic monkeys lived! I did not go Scuba Diving, but that’s ok… it was a great week of relaxing!

After a few days of me being 2 km down the beach from Sigrid and friends, Nadia departed and Sigrid and Solveig moved down beach near me, who was at Arabian Nights, to Paje by Night. This place was awesome, and I spent most of my week there after the move. Sweet pool, sweet hammock to read in, and some new friends, specifically Francois-Louis from France who was vacationing in Zanzibar for a week to take a break from his busy life as a doctor and decide what to do moving forward… He found Sigrid and I spewing stories of TDA greatness and I really think he might sign up, I’m pretty sure he spent the next few days reading all our blogs about the trip!

More importantly, Francois-Louis provided me an opportunity to bribe a police officer! lol. We were heading for the monkey reserve together on my motorbike, but FL didn’t have a helmet… Something practically no Africans we’ve seen on this trip (and in Zanzibar) wear. He said we had to go to court the next day and pay $25 USD, which was total bullshit I’m sure, but whatever, I knew what was going on and played along for the experience. We went inside the police station and into a small room where he again explained how we needed to go to court… I asked if we could pay something there instead, and he said they didn’t do receipts at the station. No problem, I said, and his eyes lit up. It was just a couple bucks, and super ridiculous… But whatever, that’s Africa for you… I’m surprised it took until now to happen, but mostly the Tour is well planned and they know the staff is well educated on scams, so they leave us alone.

Anyways, it was a pretty great 5 days of rest. I had a couple runs in there, both good and amazing (though always hot), and then Sigrid and I made our way back to the tour here in Mbeya (an aside: one of the two types of sour candies I’ve been hunting since I had them in Addis was actually found in the Zanzibar airport at a little shop… how ridiculous? and where did he source them from?!), where we met up with everyone again. I hope Birgit and Leah get their blog together soon, they did take pictures for it! 🙂 You’ll have to wait and see. 2 more days to the next rest day, this time in Malawi. I missed a lot of on road Tanzania, but I’ll be back again for sure. The people, animals, sights have all been amazing!

For now, pictures! Always the best part! Hope you like monkeys.

The pretty small Cessna that would take me from Arusha to Zanzibar, direct, in about 2 hours.
The pretty small Cessna that would take me from Arusha to Zanzibar, direct, in about 2 hours.
Views of the coast! The weather has cleared up significantly. This view and arm of the wing remind me of the first time I solo skydove in 2000.
Views of the coast! The weather has cleared up significantly. This view and arm of the wing remind me of the first time I solo skydove in 2000.
Zanzibar's port!
Zanzibar’s port!
I rented a motorbike!
I rented a motorbike!
First views of the beach in Paje. Lots of seaweed, but otherwise very white and soft sand!
First views of the beach in Paje. Lots of seaweed, but otherwise very white and soft sand!
Found this little guy building himself a hole in the sand!
Found this little guy building himself a hole in the sand!
I had food in this old fort (at the Old Fort Restaurant, as the sign says, haha)
I had food in this old fort (at the Old Fort Restaurant, as the sign says, haha)
A view of the sea from Zanzibar Town...
A view of the sea from Zanzibar Town…
Some locals pull up a very heavy looking boat onto shore...
Some locals pull up a very heavy looking boat onto shore…
Back to Old Fort for some souvenir shopping!
Back to Old Fort for some souvenir shopping!
Selfie on top of the fort!
Selfie on top of the fort!
The Old Dispensary... Now a bit of a hostel and food place.
The Old Dispensary… Now a bit of a hostel and food place.
Heading out to swim with some dolphins.. a few photos here were Sigrid's! Like this one. Local fishermen, I think.
Heading out to swim with some dolphins.. a few photos here were Sigrid’s! Like this one. Local fishermen, I think.
Some really small sailboats..
Some really small sailboats..
So peaceful out on the sea here.
So peaceful out on the sea here.
Then suddenly, DOLPHINS!
Then suddenly, DOLPHINS!
Thank god for underwater cameras!
Thank god for underwater cameras!
I swear that one is smiling...
I swear that one is smiling…
Dolphins with me!
Dolphins with me!
Sigrid's friends, Solveig  and Nadia, and myself. Solveig had gotten hardcore sunburnt the previous day, thus the crazy outfit. ;) Ready to dive back in after dolphins!
Sigrid’s friends, Solveig and Nadia, and myself. Solveig had gotten hardcore sunburnt the previous day, thus the crazy outfit. 😉 Ready to dive back in after dolphins!
More dolphins!
More dolphins!
Relaxing at the Paje by Night pool.
Relaxing at the Paje by Night pool.
Off to see some monkeys hopefully?
Off to see some monkeys hopefully?
Following the guide, hoping he knows how to find them!
Following the guide, hoping he knows how to find them!
OMG MONKEYS! Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys, endemic to here.
OMG MONKEYS! Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys, endemic to here.
Cute little baby guy!
Cute little baby guy!
They're so picturesque!
They’re so picturesque!
A lion! ... No, still monkeys.
A lion! … No, still monkeys.
Dude's got a long tail.
Dude’s got a long tail.
A crazy monkey and some sort of primitive primate.
A crazy monkey and some sort of primitive primate.
Toats not a monkey. Oh, wait.
Toats not a monkey. Oh, wait.
Is this the lion?
Is this the lion?
Ok, this is legit crazy. He wasn't growling or anything, he just made this face when he squeaked, lol.
Ok, this is legit crazy. He wasn’t growling or anything, he just made this face when he squeaked, lol.
A new one for the wall at home?
A new one for the wall at home?
Another youngin'.
Another youngin’.
A different species of monkey! The blue monkey.
A different species of monkey! The blue monkey.
One more blue monkey. Sorry, I hope you all love monkeys.
One more blue monkey. Sorry, I hope you all love monkeys.
Kids playing soccer/futbol near our hotel area.
Kids playing soccer/futbol near our hotel area.
The motorcycle I rented all week! Somehow I managed to fail to get a picture of me on it!
The motorcycle I rented all week! Somehow I managed to fail to get a picture of me on it!
On the flight back to the mainland, this was in the Fastjet in-flight magazine! How fitting!
On the flight back to the mainland, this was in the Fastjet in-flight magazine! How fitting!

2 thoughts on “I Put a Vacation in my Vacation – Zanzibar Week”

  1. It was a true pleasure to meet Sigrid and yourself.
    Your stories were really inspiring and gave a total new perspective to my trip.
    I am now hooked to your blog and definitely consider following your footsteps (sorry here we are talking about wheels !!!) in the near future.
    By the way you have a talent to handle african policemen !!! Unbelievable what you can do we few bills 😉
    Stay who you are
    Be safe
    FL
    ps: My best to Sigrid. It is a little more difficult to follow her blog knowing that my norwegian is inexistent but I am looking at her pics

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