The Land of Peoples

In love with Africa and especially with the highlands, for the third consecutive year we are off to discover (our own) equatorial belt. Last year we went the other way, starting from Nairobi to visit three national parks in Kenya (Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru and Amboseli) and three national parks in Tanzania (Tarangiri, Ngorongoro and Lake Manyara). In this full immersion of nature and animals we stopped twice in Arusha. The village constituted by the Masai in 1830 enchanted us for its people, so much so that in this trip we have tried to deepen its aspects to live in contact with the population. But getting there makes choices. The first of course is to get there directly, but the flights are too expensive.

The second is last year’s: to Nairobi by plane and then 4 hours by bus. The third is to stop in Dar Es Salam and then find a way to move north. We look for cheap flights to Dar and we find the outward journey cheap, while we have difficulties for the return. We try to go back to Nairobi, and the ticket is done: 644 euro insurance included with Turkish Airlines. You can spend much less but considering that we opt for the period of August and that we moved a month earlier, we can be satisfied. Dar and Nairobi are almost 1000 kilometers away, in the middle (so to speak) of Arusha. To make stop to Dar brings us to be able to visit the near Zanzibar, while to leave from Nairobi floods us the to be able to visit, once again the Masai Mara. We plan three nights in Stone Town and three at Masai Mara, leaving in the center a week in Arusha. Tanzania is a hospitable nation where you can safely travel. It is almost impossible to rent a car (at least we have not succeeded), but you can use the public transport or the buses “extra luxury” made available to tourists. The difference between travelers and tourists is perhaps a zero, visiting the parks is expensive, almost inaccessible for young people or those who do not have a budget above $ 300 a day. But we have tried to live these experiences in an alternative way to agencies and at low cost.

We reach Fiumicino in the early hours of the day, at 5.30 am we are waited at Terminal 3 by an employee of “one Parking” to take the car and take it to the warehouse (cost 54 euros for two weeks). We carry out the boarding procedures and fly at 7.10 am in the direction of Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. We land at 10.40 local time (the same that we will take to Africa) and considering that the flight to Dar is at 19.10 we have time to make a trip to Istanbul. With the Metro (2 per person round trip at a total cost of 15 dollars) we arrive at Aga Sofia and the Blue Mosque. We walk along the shops of the center and we stop at a fast food to make a sandwich (burger, cola and chips 31 Turkish liras in two about 10 euros). We return to the airport well in advance and we stop to get a beer in the restaurant on the first floor (56.75 with chips for two beers the equivalent of 21 euros). Between dinner and breakfast served at one in the morning there was not much time to sleep in the 7 hours of travel. We arrive in Dar in the middle of the night, it is 2.35 a.m. and we go in search of a waiting room to sit down and wait for dawn. But with great amazement we realize that the airport is outdoors. It’s not so cold and the humidity is low considering that it’s night, on the contrary there are many mosquitoes. At 5.30 we take a taxi (35 dollars) to get to the port. We arrive at the Ferry Boat ticket office to Zanzibar and they tell us that there is no ticket paid with that code. Only at 6.55 a.m. the agency ok arrives and two VIP tickets for boarding. A sigh of relief. The suitcases are loaded into a container without any receipt and written, they must only be recognized on arrival. The port is approaching and we can see the docking between the heads of the many present. We go in search of our suitcases and queues to get out. To wait for us at the exit a taxi driver sent by the hotel (4 dollars) that will take us to the nearby Rumaisa Hotel (3 nights in double 180 euros).

ZANZIBAR

The road to the hotel doesn’t look good. We pass in front of the main entrance of the port and immediately turn into an isolated road where trucks stop. The hotel is above a cinema, the reception is a corridor where there is a masonry seat. The staff is kind, however, immediately asks how the trip was and is available for any request. We are assigned the room, it is small but very cozy, there is WiFi in the room. The bathroom is spacious and equipped with everything you need. A shower and immediately in bed to make up for a few hours of sleep. We wake up at lunchtime and get off to ask about Stone Town. They show us on a map the area of the “tourist” restaurants and advise us to go on foot. The map will help us to orient ourselves, we retrace the road made by taxi, we pass the entrance to the port and immediately next to it there is the Mercury’s Restaurant, in honor of Freddie Mercury, unforgettable leader of Queen born in 1946 in Zanzibar. We sit with a view of the prison island and begin to taste the flavors of the place. We order the Kingfish, it is seasoned with local spices and served with rice and vegetables. A real treat accompanied by an ice-cold beer. We continue the walk along the sea, the works do not allow us to see it in some places, while you can see the buildings of Arab style surrounding including the Old Custom House, the Museum Palace, the House of Wonders, the old Fort, to get to the Forodhani Gardens, a garden overlooking the ocean. On the way back we enter the city. Stone Town is a real Arabic house, a maze of narrow streets full of shops and bustling with all kinds of activities. We start from the other side of this triangle, where there is the market and we discover that we are a short walk from the hotel. A dormitory and a refreshing shower and we are back on the street. It’s now night when we start looking for a restaurant, but this time we decide to go into the market and cross all Stone Town after repeatedly asking about the danger to our hotel. But everyone repeats to us “Hakuna matata”, that there are no problems.

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