My 4 Day Zanzibar Experienceby Farida Haji
I had the opportunity to travel to East Africa: Tanzania, and Zanzibar with my family during August 2021.
The pandemic was still causing chaos all over the world. However, this pleasant trip was a reunion of my family after many years. I spent four days in Zanzibar and it is a peaceful destination if you wish to take a break from the worldly mayhem that we have learned to thrive in.
I’d like to share a few interesting places I visited and an extreme sport I attempted with my brother. I’m not a solo traveler, but I love to tag along and explore places with my family. Zanzibar welcomed 13 of us and we made memories to cherish for a lifetime. Alhamdulillah.
Falling From The Sky
My toes were clinging to the edge of the doorless plane and within a split of a second, I was thrown out mid-air. I held the harness tight, and prayed for my life. I screamed hard for a second or two; but when my eyes witnessed Allah’s mind-blowing creations I could hear my own heart thumping instead. I wasn’t scared. I was in awe. I attempted a 15-minute tandem skydive from a height of approximately 13,000 feet in the Zanzibar skies viewing the massive archipelagoes and their beauty through a bird’s eye.
An extreme sport involves holding your heart not on your sleeve, but in your open mouth, ready to fall out any time. The driver who got us to the skydive center asked us what time he should leave, to which my brother sarcastically said, “if we are not out by noon, you may very well leave, we either come back or we don’t!”
So, as a disclaimer, your weight needs to be less than 100 kilograms. You do not need a heart of stone. Just trust Allah and the professionals. And jump from the plane. InshaAllah when you land, you will have witnessed a wonder not many people can!
Various places in Africa have skydiving opportunities. They are among the most reasonable sky diving locations in the world (less than USD $500). If you have never done this before, take my word. It is worth it!
Walking Among Gentle Giants
A day was spent traveling to Prison Island, or I’d like to call it the land of gentle giants. The island houses hundreds of endangered Aldabra giant tortoises. Those slow walkers are over a century old, found leisurely strolling all over the island. Peacocks, peahens, and other animals can easily be spotted pacing through the slow traffic of tortoises.
Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island was uninhabited until the late 1860s. The British built prisons there, but no prisoners were actually ever held. The island is surrounded by rich blue, turquoise waters and fine white sand.
Nakupenda – I Love You
Nakupenda is a swahili term for ‘I Love You’. The loving island. The beauty of this strip of land in the middle of the ocean is that when there is a high tide the island completely disappears. Two parts of the seas start meeting and the waves from opposite directions crash into one another. It’s a surreal sight. At the tip of the strip of land, you will feel like you are in another world, at the beginning and the end at the same time.
I had never seen my father feel so relaxed and exhilarated that day when he walked as far as he could and I just looked at him. This was his much-needed break. Carefree and joyful, when suddenly my mother started screaming for him to return, for she worried the tide would sweep my dad away!
Alas, he took his time, ignoring my mother’s cries, I guess that’s what couples do right?
The low tides allow beach goers to spend some time there, go snorkeling and soak up the sun. Locals have makeshift equipment to treat the visitors to chicken and french fries. Sadly, the fries are usually moist and the chicken pieces are not so amazing. But that is literally all you get!
We reached there at midday after spotting dolphins and snorkeling in nearby waters, so when it was time to leave, it was more like a rescue mission.
We were instructed to run with all we had and jump onto boats as the tides got stronger. The locals stuff all the boats at the shore, and that’s how they pack up for the day.
Every. Single. Day.
Our boat was loaded as well. With a coal burner, a huge hammock, two locals, a lot of leftover grilled chicken, and soggy french fries. We were extremely hungry so we relished it anyway! I have no photos, because the wind was crazy, and we were drenched in water just like the french fries!
The Spice Farms
On the second day, we traveled a few hours toward the spice farms. The majority of the East African economy thrives on tourism and spice exports. We walked through massive fields of lush spices. Turmeric, cloves, curry spices, black pepper, and any spice you name and even those I never knew of.
At the end of the tour, a local climbed a tall palm tree and bought us fresh coconuts. Before we departed we were given handmade straw hats and bottles of eucalyptus and clove oil. These oils are known for their healing properties and helped us relax after a hectic day.
The washrooms have no doors and that is exactly why you need to have your own bottle of water to take care of yourself after nature calls. Because there is no tissue in sight.
Journeying Back Home
Whenever we travel, there is always a tug of war when we leave. We wish to spend some more time away from the routine we have and on the other hand, we cannot wait to get back to family and daily life.
while I sat at the airport on my way home, I had mixed feelings. Observing the beauty of the Creator I had witnessed in the past few days, the moments I now cherish when my phone pops up with a photo memory. I am forever grateful to be blessed with the ability to experience Allah’s creation with open-mindedness to learn and explore other lands, cultures, and people.
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