We left Zambia after just two nights and made our way to Malawi. Land-locked Malawi is one of the poorest country’s in the world with a GNP of only $250 per person. The average life expectancy is 43 years due to the high death rates from AIDS and malaria. However, the people here are incredibly kind and extremely happy which is why Malawi’s nickname is “The Warm Heart of Africa.”I can’t say we did much the four nights we stayed on the beaches of Lake Malawi, which covers 20% of the country. We spent the majority of the day relaxing, reading, swimming and playing cards. At night, we’d all drag our cooler of beers out to the beach to enjoy the sunset and watch the shooting stars. Due to my gambling tendencies, I convinced our friends to start playing cards for money. Let me tell you, it feels pretty exciting to win nearly a thousand dollars in the local currency! Too bad 100 dollars in the local currency equates to just 30 cents which is only just enough to buy one beer at the bar – but hey, a free beer is a free beer!We left Malawi and started making our way to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Along the way, we camped at a site without electricity. The bar here was my favorite because it was so…Africa. Equipped with a straw hut and fire pit, our “waitress” took our drink order and would disappear for 20 minutes before returning with our drinks. It’s likely that she walked into town to get our beverages we ordered. We continued driving and eventually arrived at our beach front campsite right on the coast of the Indian Ocean.The next morning, we packed our bags for the beaches of Zanzibar or “the Spice Island.” A short drive in our overland truck, two ferries and two taxis later, we finally reached Stone Town in Zanzibar. Most of us decided to go on a city and spice tour for the afternoon. While Stone Town wasn’t exactly riveting, the walking tour of the city took us through some notable places including the birth place of Freddy Mercury. We also saw the old slave trade markets and learned about the horrendous conditions the slaves from East Africa endured before being sold. Fifty people would be stuck in a small area for a few days with little food and water as they awaited the weekly slave auction. The day of auction, each person would be tied to a whipping post where they were publicly beaten so potential buyers could see how strong they were. Now, a beautiful church has been erected in the place where the whipping pole once stood. The missionaries who ended the slave trades in Stone Town wanted a symbol of goodness to replace the location where cruelty once reigned. Zanzibar was the last place in the world to finally close their slave trades.The most exciting part of the tour was when we drove out to a spice plantation. We tasted the spices right from the earth…everything from cinnamon, lemongrass, black pepper, vanilla, nutmeg, coffee beans, cocoa… you name it, they grew it, we tasted it.We enjoyed a few cups of spiced tea and fresh fruit before the locals from the spice plantation presented us with their palm tree hats they had made for us. Still wearing our party hats, the entire group then went to a rooftop bar to enjoy the sunset over Stone Town. I have to mention that this was also Thanksgiving day. As we sat and watched the sunset, we reflected on how lucky and thankful we are to have the opportunity to travel and to have such loving friends and family at home to come back to. We miss everyone, but it was also so cool to share Thanksgiving on the rooftop bar with all of our new friends who have made this trip incredible. I gave a short Thanksgiving toast and we each went around the table saying what we were thankful for. A common theme was that we were all thankful for each other. I think we are all surprised at how close we’ve gotten over the past month and how lucky we are to have such a great group. We drank, smoked hookahs, laughed about the ridiculous things we’ve done together and all of our friends said it was the greatest Thanksgiving they’ve ever had (yes we know they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but it was still touching). Our Thanksgiving feast was purchased at the local seafood market down the street from the bar. This evening market is known for its cheap and delicious seafood skewers but the vendors also serve beef, chicken, veggies and sides. For 30 cents each, we ate beef skewers and also tried the tuna, baby shark and seafood pizza. It was so good and so cheap… just the way we like it.The next morning we went on a morning snorkel trip to neighboring Prison Island. The water was incredibly clear, probably some of the best visibility we’ve ever had and we saw heaps of starfish, urchins, colorful coral and different type of fish. Sorry, no underwater photos until we get our replacement camera in Australia.
That afternoon, we took a taxi to Nungwe in the northern part of Zanzibar where we stayed for two nights. The beach here was absolutely beautiful…white sand and crystal clear blue and turquoise water. Zanzibar is one of the top five nicest beaches we’ve been to – it is absolutely gorgeous. We swam, drank frozen cocktails on the beach and ate dinner with our toes in the sand. The following morning, six of us went on another snorkel trip. The snorkeling was great and the water temperature was perfect under the intense African sun. One of the best parts of the trip was taking in the views of the ocean on our boat ride to and from the snorkel location. Thanks to the Stanifer’s for the Zanzibar snorkeling honeyfund. So excited for you to experience it for yourselves when you come to Tanzania. We hope you love it as much as we did! So far, we’ve really enjoyed Tanzania, especially Zanzibar, and can’t wait for our upcoming trip to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti!
Disclosure: We are traveling on an overland safari with Africa Travel Co. and have received a trip discount in exchange for sharing our experience. These thoughts and opinions are completely our own.