Former Slave Market site in Zanzibar

While I was exploring Stone Town on the Island of Zanzibar, Tanzania, I walked by The Anglican Christ Church Cathedral…

and saw that it was the former slave market site.  It was only a few dollars to view it and there were a number of guys standing around offering to give tours, so I asked one of the men how much he charged.  He said he worked for tips…whatever I wanted to give…so off I went for a tour!

The tour lasted about 20 minutes.  First we walked through the church and he explained that since slavery had been abolished in the States in 1863 and it wasn’t abolished in Zanzibar until 1873, for those 10 years, the slaves were shipped to other countries other than the U.S., such as Dubai and other Middle Eastern countries.  While researching for this post, I found information that is contrary to what my tour guide gave.  Actually, slavery wasn’t completely abolished in the U.S. until 1865 and in Zanzibar until 1897.  There was a treaty signed with Britain to suppress slavery in Zanzibar in 1873.

This is the interior of the church…

Here is an underground area where the slaves were kept.  The guide said as many as 50 women and children were in this one room where they slept.  This area had a palatable sadness.  Seeing the shackles and trying to imagine living in these conditions left an imprint!

The last country in Africa to abolish slavery was Niger in 1960.  Even then it wasn’t illegal until 2003.  From 1960 until 1981 slavery was abolished in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Mauritania, respectively.  I was surprised by this.

Although slavery is illegal in all nations, it still exists, or forms of it, throughout the world!

Sante Sana – Stone Town

It was time to return to Stone Town, Zanzibar for one final night after staying two nights about an hour North of Stone Town in the seaside town of Nungwi.  I would be making my way back home to Ohio after spending 40 days going through six (actually seven if you count going into Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls from that side) countries in Africa!

I had only explored Stone Town for an afternoon a few days previously, so I was looking forward to another day of walking from one twisting street to the next…getting lost and taking lots of photographs!

We had learned to say “No thank you” in Swahili “Hapana Sante”, but we also learned to say “Thank you very much” — “Sante Sana”.  I enjoyed saying that more!

I went out on my own this time and felt very safe.  That’s one of the things I learned on this trip (that will be another post).  You may read that somewhere is not safe or someone will tell you a story of something bad that happened to them, but if you keep an open mind, you have a completely different experience (but I don’t mean travel in areas with a war going on…you know what I mean!).

Here are some photos from the day…

I asked one of the locals where a good place to eat was and he said Lookiman’s (or something like that).  He gave me directions, but there aren’t many street signs, so I asked someone else along the way and ultimately found the restaurant.  It was definitely a locals’ hangout, so I knew the food would be good.  I had lentils, some type of curry, a yummy rice and some naan bread.

More walking…

Although Stone Town was amazing…I was ready to go home!  I was more mentally/ emotionally exhausted than anything!  But stay tuned, we’re not finished with Africa yet!

Sunset Cruise – One life jacket…plenty of Rum and Coke

I spent two nights at the Amaan Bungalows in Nungwi, Zanzibar and an optional activity through my G Adventures 35 day Overland Truck adventure was a two-hour Sunset Cruise with all you can drink beer and Rum & Coke, followed by a fish dinner on the beach with a bonfire, for $35.  Although I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what it would be like, when I approached the boat, I have to admit I thought it seemed a bit rickety or primitive…

There was one life jacket, but plenty of drinks!!

Unfortunately, when the two young Danish girls were getting onto the boat, the wood was wet and one of them…Kikki…slipped and hurt her foot.  Here she is with her foot propped up…

Here’s our driver…James and another G Adventures Tour Director in training.

I spent the two hours on the second level with these fellow travelers…

and here is my roommate…Suzanne…


That night after the cruise, we had a great time on the beach…eating, drinking and dancing!  It was so much fun…I don’t have any photos!!

Paradise in Nungwi, Zanzibar

The seaside town of Nungwi on the Island of Zanzibar is absolutely gorgeous!  With only three days left of my G Adventures 35 day Overland Truck tour through six countries in Africa, I was ready for some relaxation!  After a two-hour spice plantation tour, we headed to the Amaan Bungalows in Nungwi.

I thought this was pretty cool…underwater Yoga!

Here’s the garbage man with the odd looking cow…

It didn’t take me long to hit the beach…my first time in the Indian Ocean!

Here are two Russian girls that had joined our group…

And a sight I’ve not encountered anywhere else…Masai Mara on the beach!  And looking quite dashing!!

As usual, the sunset was gorgeous in Africa…

That evening I played pool with some of the people from our group and our Tour Director and Driver…Jess and James.  We had a great time!!

Nungwi, Zanzibar is stunning!

Spice Plantation Tour in Zanzibar

An activity that was included in my 35 day G Adventures Overland Truck adventure was a two hour Spice Plantation Tour on the island of Zanzibar—off the coast of Tanzania.  Spices are one of the top forms of revenue for Tanzania; although they’ve been surpassed years ago by Indonesia.  We got to try different types of fruit, like Mango, Oranges, Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Papaya, Passion Fruit, Banana, Soursop, Pineapple and Coconut!  They made hats for us and we drank coconut juice!

The chickens were fighting over the coconut droppings.  This chicken was strange looking!

These little girls were off in the woods….so I zoomed in to get their photo…

This guy wrapped some type of strong leaf in a figure 8 around his feet, jumped up on the tree and began leaping like a frog up the tree!  He was singing the entire time and made it to the top!

Another guy in our group wanted to try it…he got up about 8 feet and stopped.  It’s harder than it looks!!

During the tour we stopped at all types of spice plants/trees.  This is nutmeg.  The guide would give all of us some of the plant, have us smell it and see if we could guess what it was.

I don’t remember what this red one is…

This is vanilla!

The Spice Plantation tour was quite educational!

Hapana Sante–Stone Town, Zanzibar

If you read my last post (see here), you know that my G Adventures 35 day Overland Truck tour had a 13 hour day yesterday, driving through Tanzania, to Dar Es Salaam, where we spent the night camping.  The next morning we were packed up and left by 7:30am via Tuk Tuks, with Stone Town, Zanzibar as our destination!  Stone Town (a World Heritage site) is 95% Islam with an average life expectancy of 48 years and the main sources of income are tourism and the sale of spices.

Our Tuk Tuk drivers transported us onto a ferry for a short ride to the main ferry that goes to the island of Zanzibar, located approximately 20 miles off-shore and takes about two hours to reach.  We arrived at 11am and this was my first view of the island…

We made our way to Mazson’s Hotel, where we would stay for one evening, before heading North to a beach resort in Nungwi, which is located about an hour away.  This was my room and my roommate’s name was Suzanne.  She is from Belgium!

This was the view across from the Hotel…

Because this was an ending and/or beginning point for G Adventure trips, new people joined our group.  I met Samantha and Kathleen, Scientists from America, and they said they had gone out walking around Stone Town and didn’t like the assertive touts trying to sell things to them.  We had learned how to say “No Thank You” in Swahili, “Hapana Sante”, so the three of us set off to get lost in the winding, narrow streets of Stone Town.  It was an odd feeling to not consult a map…to just walk and not care if you didn’t know where you were.

This is Samantha…

And here’s Kathleen…

I had a good time saying “Hapana Sante” with a smile on my face and the touts seemed to like it!  It became a game!  It reminded me a bit of Egypt, but they weren’t as aggressive… or I was just more prepared.

The architecture, people and culture of Stone Town, Zanzibar were very intriguing to me!

Mobbed by School Children and Encounter with Witch Doctor

An optional activity through my G Adventures 35 day African Overland Truck trip was to have your fortune told by a Witch Doctor at Lake Malawi!  It was only $6, so off I went with the Tour Director, our translator/guide and one other fellow traveler.  It was only a 10 minute walk down a dirt road from our campsite and along the way, we came upon a school.  We stopped to say hello to the school children.  They were in class, so we briefly spoke to the Principal.  A few minutes later, the children were released for a recess and I started taking some photos.  They were so exuberant, I felt like I was being mobbed.  I was surrounded and I was trying to get them to back up so I could take the photos.


It was time to go, so after I was positioned farther away, I was able to zoom in and get a photo of them….

The school didn’t have any desks for the children (they sat on the floor), and no light!  We talked with the translator about ways to help and he said the sad thing was that when organizations or people would donate money, it would go into the pockets of the bureaucrats, police, administration, etc.

The Witch Doctor’s hut was in a very small village.  This was one of the other village huts…

Here’s the Witch Doctor.  His belt and ankle bracelets made noise when he walked or danced.

The other traveler, Peter, and myself entered the Witch Doctor’s hut and had a seat on a mat on the floor.  Some of the village people also entered.  These children were darling…

The Witch Doctor began a heated verbal exchange with the drummer on the right and I asked the translator what they were saying.  He said the drummer was smoking pot (a joint) and the Witch Doctor told him to stop it.  The drummers began drumming and the Witch Doctor began dancing.  He had Peter dance with him and then it was my turn.  He had a whistle that he blew while he danced.

After all of the whistling, drumming, dancing and festivities, we all exited the hut, except for Peter, who stayed for his fortune.  After he came out, it was my turn.  The Witch Doctor told the translator that I was not married, had one child, my future looked bright (no problems), and that I would be blessed if I bought more items from the merchants selling wooden carvings that are located right outside of our campground.

He was right that I have one child!  I did buy about six wood carvings (most of them for gifts) so I should be quite blessed!

Corruption in Tanzania

My 35 day African Overland Truck Adventure was nearing the end.  Day 29 was an 11 hour driving day (not including an hour time change and an hour crossing the border from Malawi into Tanzania).  We left our campsite at Lake Malawi by 6am and arrived to the border of Tanzania at 8am.  One hour later and we were on the road again (that was a big theme of the trip…on the road again…ha ha!  A few of the other travelers weren’t prepared for the challenges of all the driving and camping.  I added up how many hours of driving there were before I booked the trip and knew what I was getting myself into.)

We arrived at the Kisolanza Restcamp, nicknamed the “Old Farmhouse” at 5:30pm.    Because we were leaving in the morning by 5am, I decided to upgrade one last time to a room.  It was in an old horse stall (that had been renovated) and cost $30.  That’s one of the downsides of traveling solo – you don’t have someone to split the cost with (but there are plenty of upsides).  There was a down comforter on the bed..oouu…ahh!  And fresh flowers!  Here’s the room…

The next morning we didn’t even eat breakfast until we had been traveling for three hours.  We stopped at 8am – had our quick breakfast and made a sandwich to eat on the truck.  I rode up front with the driver, James, for a while and played music from my I-Pod.  He would take the intercom walkie-talkie and have it next to the speaker so the passengers in the back could hear the music.  I played everything from 50’s to current music.   I’m sure some of the 20 somethings loved my older music!

We were stopped twice within one hour by the police for allegedly speeding and James had to give them money…that they just pocketed.  Another time he was stopped and the officer said he was hungry!  James told him, “Sorry man, I don’t have anything”!

We passed a pineapple field…

As we entered the outskirts of Dar Es Salaam, there were lots of people, shacks, and markets for miles and miles…

Thirteen hours later, we arrived at Makadi Beach Resort (campground) at 6pm.   After setting up my tent, having a drink, dinner and a quick swim in the pool…it was time to prepare for bed.  We were told not to swim in the ocean there because it was polluted from sewage, etc.  Even though you don’t do much while you’re in the Overland Truck, you still seem to be tired.

Before coming to Africa, I didn’t know what to expect.  I was in the middle of reading some books about Africa while driving through it, so I was learning more.  I wasn’t aware that there was so much corruption within the government and military in Tanzania and some of the other countries!

Moody Lake Malawi

Having arrived at Lake Malawi two days previously to a campsite called Kande Beach, my Overland Truck group itinerary required us to drive about five hours farther North up the shore of the lake to Chitimba Campground, where we arrived by 1pm.  They offered a small room for $6 a night and since we were staying two evenings, the thought of not putting my tent up won me over!

The remainder of my day was quite typical for my trip–internet time–lunch–nap–take photos.  As I was gazing at the beautiful lake water, I noticed what appeared to be a few clouds of smoke far out on the water, and asked an employee what they were.  He said they were swarms of flies (millions) that gather to reproduce, lay eggs and die shortly thereafter.  This happens approximately once a month.  The locals like to catch them and make them into a cake or deep fry them!  That’s one of the things I like about travel…there’s always something new and unexpected!

After dinner we had a bonfire on the beach.  I read in bed and was asleep by 9:45pm.  It poured down rain for the first time on the trip in the middle of the night.  My roof was made from tin and it was so loud!  Snug as a bug in my bed, I was glad I decided to splurge for the room, rather than worrying if my tent would leak!

Here are a few of my photos from the day.  I like this photo because of the distinct strips of color…

The owner of the facility saw me taking photos and asked if I’d like to see something really special.  I said of course, so he took me to meet his pet deer…

It was a windy day and I kept trying to get a decent photo of this amazing flower that was swaying violently in the wind!

One of the employees at the campground/resort…

I awoke before sunrise again the following morning and the lighting was divine…

The water looks like a sea (well…lake) of diamonds…large diamonds…

I’ll say it again…Lake Malawi is amazing!

Kande Beach, Lake Malawi

Having driven through Malawi, the day before, which you can read about here, my G Adventures Overland Truck group was excited to have arrived to our first campsite as night fell at Lake Malawi…Kande Beach.  We were staying here for two nights.  The next morning, I was up before sunrise, so I walked the short distance to the lake and was pleased to have “Sid”, the campground owners’ dog accompany me and be my protector!  Lake Malawi is nicknamed the calendar lake because it is approximately 365 miles long by 52 miles wide.  You feel as though you’re at the ocean!  It is the third largest lake in Africa and the eighth largest in the world.  You’ll find the most species of fish of any body of fresh water on Earth here at Lake Malawi!  It’s also the second deepest lake in Africa…almost 2300 feet (almost a half mile) deep!

The colors were spectacular!  As I was taking photos I was reminding myself to soak it all in and experience the moments!  It almost seemed surreal!  The sky was bursting with gold and seemed ready to explode!

The day was perfect…not too hot, a nice breeze!  I had read that the Lake may have Bilharzia (a parasite) and could be risky to swim in.  We were assured that the two places we were staying at had no risk because it was moving water.  I did take a dip later that day!

My day consisted of laying on the beach reading a book for a while, some internet time, and a nap after lunch.  That evening we had a party.  We drew names from a hat and had to buy or use something we already had to dress that person up.  I drew our driver’s name–James.  I had a sheet with me so I wrapped it around him like a Toga!

Michael drew my name and dressed me as a Fem bot from the Austin Powers movie.  They have pictures and I hope they don’t blackmail me with them!  We had a Pig Roast and Rum Punch!

Lake Malawi is amazing!

Malawi or Bust

My G Adventures Overland Truck group left our campsite in Zambia at 7am (for a 10 hour drive) and thirty minutes later we arrived to the border of Malawi.  I was told that all five of the border crossings that our group went through were relatively quick and easy as far as border crossings go (usually 20-45 minutes).  Sometimes the Tour Director would gather all of our passports and our filled out forms and handle it and other times we had to do it on our own.  Tourists are usually given some type of preferential treatment because we represent money.

Once in Malawi, we stopped first at a stand selling coal and firewood and loaded up.  Here are the people selling it…

Next stop was a local market and as I was wandering around taking a few photos, a man approached me and seemed a little angry.  He said, “You need to ask before you take a photo”.  (Most people I encountered throughout six countries in Africa could speak English)  At that moment I was going to take a photo of some rice and sugar or something like that and said to him, “Even of this rice”?  He said “Yes.  People want money for the photos”.  I encountered this quite a bit on the trip and would not give money for photos.  Some people were very nice about it when I would ask to take their photo.

I wondered what these leather strips were used for…

This woman was so cute…she agreed to have the photo taken and every time she would move her baby away from her for the photo, he would cry.  That’s why she was laughing.  She has a stalk of cane sugar in her hand.  I tried it somewhere else on the trip.  After chewing on it, you spit it out.  It’s a nice little sweet treat.

These boys were fighting each other to get in the photo…

One boy rode up to me on his bicycle and said “Give me money”.  I said “No, you give me money.”

The landscape was becoming more tropical the farther East we went.  We stopped in the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe (population 1M) for snacks, ATM, etc.  I cut my toe on a wire that was hidden in the grass.  We finally arrived at Kande Beach on Lake Malawi around 5:30pm.  We set up our tents, took photographs (wait until you see the Lake), had dinner and were in bed by 9pm.

Rural Zambia

With a 12 hour drive (including breaks) looming over us, our G Adventures African Overland Truck group left at 6am from Victoria Falls in Zambia.  We stopped for lunch at an abandoned school yard.  There were some children playing and they came over to check us out.

I had some crackers, so I doled some out to each of them.  The older ones tried to trick me and returned for more, but I didn’t fall for that.  Jess, our Tour Director said we should try not to give things to the children, because it perpetuated a begging problem.  I started reading another book about Africa on the trip, “Dark Star Safari“, by Paul Theroux, and he mentions how many people feel that all of the charity and aid for the past 40 years may have made things worse in Africa.  Anyway, Jess said she would give them our left over bread from lunch.  Unfortunately, she didn’t dole it out and the oldest one took it and ran off.

One of the guys in our group got a soccer ball out of the truck and started playing with the children…

Driving through the Zambian countryside with tree covered rolling hills reminded me at times of the Smoky Mountains or parts of Kentucky.   There weren’t many cars on the road, but a lot of people walking or bicycling alongside the road.  I wondered where they could be walking to…at times we were out in the middle of nowhere.  The roads were mainly paved and there were both cement block homes and simple huts along the road.  I noticed there were high walls around many of the houses.  Whenever there was a small village (even a few huts), there would be speed bumps.  We couldn’t see out the front of the Overland Truck, so it felt like we were in a capsule being propelled along the road, shaken up like a martini!

We stopped at a local market…

I love the bright colors the women wear!

That evening we camped at a place called Mama Rula’s Campsite.  The lights don’t switch on in the shower area until after dark, so I took a cold shower in the dark (well…almost dark)!  Jess made Spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread for dinner…yum yum!


Broke down in Africa

As I mentioned in my last post about Victoria Falls, that you can read about here, we switched Overland Trucks and Tour Directors on my 35 day G Adventures Overland Truck African Adventure.  I was relieved about the truck switch because we had broken down five times driving through Namibia and Botswana!

Originally, we were supposed to have a different truck, but the first morning of the trip, as they were beginning to load the truck with luggage, someone drove by and ripped the doors off of the truck!  I took a photo of the road and truck for most of them.


This first breakdown was the longest…over an hour…so the Danish girls decided to get some sun…

Road – breakdown #1

Road – breakdown #2

Road – breakdown #3

The next two days of my 35 day G Adventures African Overland Truck adventure were spent doing a variety of things…organizing my luggage, doing laundry (I only paid to have someone do my laundry twice on the trip), had another massage and a pedicure, internet time (usually I had to pay for wireless), napping, and dinner out with the new group,

The following morning we got on the road by 6:45am and drove 7 hours to Lusaka, Zambia and set up camp at the Eureka Restcamp.  There were some zebra roaming around the campsite…pretty cool!

The Mighty Victoria Falls

Although my G Adventures 35 Day Overland Truck Adventure was challenging because of the long bumpy driving days, the lack of creature comforts while camping, and being in close confines with a diverse group of people (ages, nationalities and personalities), the rewards were tremendous!  By day 19, some of the highlights had been Fish River Canyon in Namibia (see my post here); Dune 45 and Deadvlei Salt Pan in Namibia (see my posts here and here); Etosha National Park in Namibia (see my post here); visiting the San Bushman in Botswana (see post here); the Okavango Delta in Botswana (see posts here and here);  and Chobe National Park in Botswana (see post here).

Today, we drove four hours from Chobe National Park in Botswana to Livingstone, Zambia, where the mighty Victoria Falls are.  After crossing the border into Zambia, we arrived at the Zambezi Waterfront Campsite, where we would stay put for four nights (a welcome change after moving almost every day).  I paid $10 to upgrade to a tent with electricity and a bed (see below)!  And for the first time on the trip shared my space with someone (lovely Kelly from Australia) for two evenings!  Here’s a photo of her in Botswana after a dog went wee wee on her leg…

Her trip was ending here, so the last two evenings, I had the tent to myself and had to pay $15 per night.  There were only 5 of us from the original 17 that were going all the way from Cape Town to Zanzibar or Nairobi, and we were getting a new Overland Truck, Tour Director and driver, along with some new passengers.

The following day, Kelly, Timo (from Germany) and I left at 8am for Victoria Falls on the Zambia side (it’s a full day excursion if you visit both sides like we did – we didn’t return until 4:30pm).  The falls are over a mile wide and 354 feet deep and are also known as the “Cloud (or Smoke) that Thunders”.

Here is one of our first views….

We crossed the “Knife Edge” bridge and were drenched from the spray of the pounding water.  I felt like I was part of the falls!  There were rainbows everywhere!!

Next, we hiked down over 350 feet to the “Boiling Pot” at the water level and watched the swirling water!

There were quite a few baboons on the trails and suddenly one of them jumped up at Timo and scratched his arm.  It thought he had food.  He was quite shocked and a bit concerned afterwards about disease.  We gave him a wet wipe and some hand sanitizer for it.  Later we heard another one of the girls in our group had one jump on her backpack and try to scramble away with it.

After consulting with a few people, including our Tour Director, we decided to pay the extra money to walk across the bridge into Zimbabwe to view the front side of the falls.

I had read that it was a must do!   When we inquired of a local which side was better, he said it was similar to asking which side of his face was better.  If I remember correctly, I had to pay $30 extra for a double entry Visa for Zambia, $30 for a Visa to enter Zimbabwe, and $30 to enter the falls on the Zimbabwe side.

We decided to walk across the bridge rather than take a taxi (no man’s land – since you’re really not in either country) and we stopped to watch a girl bungee jump.  This was the bungee jump that broke a while back and a girl broke her collar-bone, but survived!

Here she’s ready to jump.

And here she is dangling down below….

As you can see, the falls are spectacular!  Although photos don’t do it justice…the spray from the water doesn’t lend itself to great photos!  From September to January you can see the falls really well because it during the dry season.  But then you miss the experience of the thundering powerful falls.

I was surprised at how few people we encountered!  If you are able to visit Victoria Falls, I definitely recommend seeing them from both sides!


Baobab Trees and Chobe National Park, Botswana

Day 17 of my 35 day G Adventures African Overland Truck adventure began with an hour-long mokoro ride back from bush camping in the Okavango Delta.  You can read about the amazing Delta here and here.  After unloading our supplies and gear from the boats and loading it back onto our Overland Truck, we drove 3 hours to our campsite…Planet Baobab, near Chobe National Park.  The bar/restaurant area is really nice.  Check out the chandeliers – they’re made out of beer bottles…

The campsite is located close to the town of Gweta in Botswana and Chobe National Park.  I did some laundry, got on the internet and took a few photos of the beautiful Baobab trees…

After setting up our tents, a few of us went for a swim.  For 295 Botswana Pula ($37.00) we went on a sunset cruise in the park.  It was amazing…

Chobe National Park was definitely one of my top three favorite experiences of the trip!