Today was the welcome meeting of our group tour with Intrepid. This took place in the evening so there was plenty of time to explore Zanzibar, and to relax, beforehand.
I decided to have a slow start to the morning and had breakfast at the Stone Town Cafe across the road. I had scrambled eggs on toast while just watching the world go by, which was really relaxing, and I started feeling really happy that I was back in Africa again.
Moving to a new hotel
Last night I was told that there was a possibility that I would have to change hotels today, as my group would possibly be starting from another hotel. I didn’t hear anything more but kept by bag packed just in case and. This was lucky because, after returning from breakfast, the hotel told me that I would be moving and that the representative was already on his way to the hotel!
A few minutes later and I was back downstairs and met a local representative of Intrepid along with another group member – Cecil – who had just arrived. The representative told us that we would be staying at the Safari Lodge for the night, which was closer to the port, and that we would meet our group there this evening.
(The Safari Lodge had actually closed down, we would later find out, and been replaced by another hotel. But everybody still calls it the Safari Lodge as that’s what it was called for years).
Our rooms at the new hotel weren’t quite ready when we arrived so we left our bags in the luggage room and walked into town. I showed Cyril around town so that he could get his bearings but it was soon time for lunch. We ended up going to the Traveller’s Cafe, where I ate yesterday, as I enjoyed it that much and I thought it was a great place to soak up the atmosphere of the island.
A lazy afternoon in Stone Town
After lunch we walked back to the new hotel to check in and, while the hotel was a bit of a maze, the rooms were definitely an upgrade. Not only did they have working air con but they had a TV, were cleaner, and in better condition. The location was also perfect for our ferry to the mainland the next day, only a few minutes walk, although the location of our old hotel was great for the beach and the main attractions of town.
I decided to have a lazy day today, as we have a long few days ahead, so I didn’t want to pack in loads of things into the afternoon. I relaxed in my room for a little bit, making use of the air conditioning, and then just explored the local area for a while before returning to the hotel for our group welcome meeting.
I really love the atmosphere of Stone Town. There is a lot of history here, and such a vibrant culture, which combines to make it a fun place to visit. The constant barrage of people trying to sell you things does get annoying but I have enjoyed my time here.
Two days was probably enough for me to be able to see everything in Stone Town although there is more to see on the island. For beach lovers there are some great beaches elsewhere on the island which the people in our group who have been travelling since Nairobi have been relaxing at for a few days.
Group welcome meeting
Our welcome meeting was in the restaurant on the roof of the hotel and I made my way up there a bit early so that I wasn’t late and there were already people there.
We met our tour leader, Mambo, who is from Kenya and who has been working for Intrepid for a few years. He’s the only crew with us tonight as the driver and chef have stayed on the mainland working on the truck. We will meet them tomorrow when we arrive in Dar es Salaam.
During the welcome meeting we spent some time introducing ourselves to the group before hearing more about the trip from Mambo. A big part of the meeting was expectation management since this will be a particularly challenging trip, with some very long days, but it sounds like everybody in the group is well-travelled which hopefully means that they are prepared for an adventure like this.
Mambo was very honest about this trip being an adventure. He explained that there will be lots of long travel days, slow border crossings, and basic facilities until we arrive in Zimbabwe. This is something that I knew in advance, and in my opinion it’s a price worth paying to see such an amazing part of the world.
It turns out that there are only 8 of us in the group which means we will have loads of room to stretch out in the truck – including having two lockers each. The group, and the crew, also seem great. I got to know a few of them over dinner at the food market and it looks like it is going to be a fantastic trip.
Breakfast is at 05:30 in the morning so it’s time for an early night. Tomorrow we make our way to the mainland to start the overland portion of the trip which I’m really looking forward to.