After a rewarding but tiring week of back-to-back game drives in East Africa, an adventurer can be forgiven for being a bit beat out and not looking forward to a long flight back to North America. Fortunately, Exoticca Tours had just the remedy after our December safari in Kenya… four days at an all inclusive beach-side resort in Zanzibar! This island in the Indian Ocean is located just off the coast of Tanzania, and was once a major Omani trading port, hence the strong Islamic influence, which can be seen in the architecture of its capital, Stone Town.
The Hotel Kiwenga was lovely, fully decorated for Christmas, albeit with an African flare. It was the perfect spot to “veg out” for a few days and was comparable to a 4-4.5-star Caribbean all-inclusive. The main difference was that the beach had many very friendly Maasai people along the shore. This was great if you wished to get an insight into local culture, though a quiet beach walk was not likely without an entourage joining you. The rooms also had mosquito netting around the beds, which may not be a bad thing for Caribbean resorts to embrace.
The Kiwenga also differed in its spa facilities, with a traditional Arabic hammam along with the massage therapy options. Hammams are found all over the Islamic world, and are often very elaborate buildings featuring marble slabs where a bath attendant can scrub you with soapy mitts and varying levels of enthusiasm ranging from mildly stimulating to removing several layers of skin. Be warned.
Overall, I would not make a special trip all the way to Zanzibar just for the beach resorts, but as a short flight away at the end of a safari in Kenya, Zanzibar proved a good place to zone out for a few days before facing a long stint of air travel. The local capital of Stone Town is also worth a visit for its history and traditional architecture.
If you go:
- Exoticca Tours for excellent quality packages at reasonable prices.
- Ethiopian Airlines for amazing, friendly flight service to Africa.
All photos by Stella van der Lugt