Zanzibar: “Jambo!” aka First Impressions of Nungwi

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Jambo is hello in Swahili. That’s how everyone greets each-other on this small village in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

I will try to keep this post short on history and such and focus on my very first impressions. We’ve been here for a bit longer than 3 days and it already feels like forever because we have done and seen so much. I will try to chop up the blog posts a bit so they wouldn’t be annoyingly long. So we will stay in this small Nungwi village in North of Zanzibar for 11 days. Everyone grasps air when we say that we will stay here for so long. I think it’s because it’s relatively small (5000 people). However, I like to stay put for a bit longer so we can learn more about the local lifestyle.

I think this truck could carry more things! 

We are staying in Goasis Nungwi hotel and it’s a really cute small resort with friendly service and community-like feel. We have this tiny little cottage with basic amenities and every evening and morning we can fall asleep and wake up to the sound of birds chirping. Although honestly, sometimes I wish they would just shut up for a while. We also have a dog and in the garden I have had a couple of encounters with lizards and HUGE roaches. It is crazy hot, 32 degrees, and the highest UV rate (11) every day, so a pool is much welcomed to cool off a bit. Every day, after walking in the sun for 15 min, I have felt I will nearly pass out. This is how hot it is. But then again, we came to an island with a tropical island in the hottest time of the year – smart move.

Our cottage 
Hyperactive birds 

The first thing we saw was the beach that is simply jaw-dropping. One of the best they have here in Zanzibar and Indian Ocean. Bright white sand and clear blue water. Just like in the magazines. The ocean is warm, around 27 degrees, like bathwater. But I am always a bit careful when going for a swim – there might be sea urchins and other creatures under your step. Another day this guy brought out a pufferfish. And I saw an anchor 50cm from my step. Other than that, if you’re careful and don’t walk around too long – you are fine.

Food! So far we have tried some traditional rice plates with different sides like spinach and beans, but mostly seafood since it is traditional in Zanzibari cuisine. Katry has had octopus, I have had lots of tuna – both swimming around the island and I’ve seen how locals have carried octopus out to the shore. Obviously we’ve also had lots of fruit. There are even banana trees in the hotel garden. Also mangoes, coconuts, passion fruit, pineapples and other tropical fruit like that. The fruit is so much nicer and sweeter than the ones you can get on the European market. Local ‘supermarkets’ are also one of a kind – in a small room filled with dust and dirt you can find some stacks of water, Fanta, Sprite, Coke and soap. The only option to eat here is to eat at restaurants really. You can’t get real food supplies from a store.

Largest supermarket in the village 

What can be annoying are the locals trying to approach you on the beach. They can follow you around for quite a while. I am not quite sure what they want – some want to sell things, some want to sell tours and some just want to take you to a party. They are very resilient so you have to be quite strict. I think about 95% of all men walking past us say “Jambo” to us. Not sure if they are being polite or they just want something for the ‘rich white tourists’ again. Some people definitely see us as walking wallets. The other evening we were quite frightened when we had to walk back from the beach in the complete darkness and these three guys appeared out of nowhere and wanted to approach us, asking why do we walk away so fast. Next time Katry will bring her pocket knife. 😀 Better safe than sorry. There are good and bad people everywhere. Same in France, same in Estonia. Just have to be careful and unfortunately the sad reality is that two young women travelling alone have to always be more alert than men would have to be.

And it’s not surprising they are trying to sell us everything because tourism is one of the major fields to earn them bread on the table. People are poor. Tanzania is in the bottom of the UN Human Development Index. I have never seen anything like this. In fact, you see these major hotel complexes and other riches next to dirt and huts with dirt floors where even homeless people would not live in Estonia. Many kids don’t have prospects – they need education. Unfortunately, there aren’t many schools and the ones that are here, are not good and cost a lot. So that parents can’t afford to give their children good education. But enough of this right now.

Coats and cows everywhere – usually eating trash 
The houses of village people 

All in all, people seem happy and carefree. They always say “Hakuna Matata” which basically means “No worries” in Swahili. This truly describes their lifestyle here. People are taking it easy, even walking super slowly. Getting food or other things done just takes 4x longer than it would in Northern Europe. They even walk slow! There is no rush anywhere. Something completely different after coming from Paris’ hustle and bustle. So we will try to take their advice and chill out a bit. Today we will go on a sunset boat cruise and next time I will write to you about turtles, giant tortoises and cool monkeys. Oh, and about local police too! That’s really something.


PS. When we arrived on the island, there was no electricity on the whole island. And during our stay we have seen the power go off at least 5 times – including in a restaurant during a meal when it was completely dark outside. So it took me a while, considering this electricity and internet connection, to put this post together for you.

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  1. It’s such an epic adventure travelling to Zanzibar – the untouched beauty of nature combined with a very different culture and attitude to take it easy😀 It sounds like an awesome adventure – I’m definitely jealous 😉

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