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particularly in Stone Town, it 's easy to meet a lot of local people that turn theyrself in tourist guide offering you excursion at low prices. Be carefull and do not accept to go with they if you are not expcted to be left in the middle of the island without seeing anything...most of them are drogatic looking for money for the next dose...
if you want safari excursion check with licenced travel agent.
Unique Suggestions: everybody is looking for a tip, give tips only when you think is they deserves. In the airport they take profit of sleepy tourists asking for tips just to take the luggage for a meter on.
Fun Alternatives: On the beach is quite different, you can rely on beach boys for boat trip excursion, they have good prices for good value.
Written Aug 27, 2004
At the end of the spice garden tour was the usual "shopping opportunity". I adore spices and use a lot in my cooking, so I bought a considerable amount. It was all very fresh and looked good, so I was happy with my purchases.
However, that evening over a Bacari & Coke, another hotel guest insisted in putting me right - I could have bought those spices much cheaper in the market! It was still considerably cheaper than the same spices would cost back in the UK, so I was happy: I saved money and the local entrepeneurs made money!
Unique Suggestions: I am not one of those people who worry about where I can save 20 cents, but if you do want to buy the spices at the lowest possible price, it is - allegedly - the market!
(PS, don't you just HATE those people who insist on telling you that the bargain you just thought you got, was EVEN CHEAPER elsewhere)
Written Aug 14, 2004
In an effort to seperate you from your money, Stone Town has its fair share of touts ans salesmen. Bargain for a good price and only buy what you intended at a price which is fair to both of you. Remember that the vendor has to make a living too!
Unique Suggestions: If you are going to spend your money on something useless, at least make it something brave or memorable.
My friend Eddie is terrified of snakes, and this is the first time he has ever got anywhere near one. At a cost of $1 (cheap at half the price), he was entangled with a very slippery local!
I do feel he was very brave indeed to overcome his fear and do this! It is something he will remember for a long time and a good story to tell his grandchildren.
Written Aug 14, 2004
I don't know whether we were just unlucky, or if this is the norm.
We were offered a trip to swim with the dolphins, and as this has long been one of my ambitions, we jumped at the chance.
The drive from our hotel took several hours, but we finally arrived at the south coast. After an included lunch is a nice little local restaurant (we were the only guests there), we set off in a rickety old boat.
The swells were 8-10 feet high and made the boat journey alone a great experience (only if you are a good sailor, if you get easily seasick, stay on dry land!).
We saw many dolphins frolicking in the waves, but always at some distance away. We spent a lot of time chasing them, but by the time we got there, they had usually moved on.
Antcipating where they would next move on to, we donned fins and mask and entered the water. Under these conditions, only do this if you are a very strong swimmer! My husband is not very confident in the water and became very frightened.
I saw three dolphins for a total of 2.8 seconds, some 10-20 foot below me in the water. If I'd blinked, I would have missed them! It was not what I would class as "Swimming with the Dolphins".
Unique Suggestions: Don't expect to be close to dolphins like you can in the Caribbean. These are totally wild dolphins and will not come anywhere near you.
Treat it as a nice boat trip to spot dolphins and you won't be so disappointed.
It is, however, a very long way from most of the resort hotels on the east coast, and in my opinion, not worth the long journey.
Written Aug 14, 2004
Local kids will try to sell you beautifully polished corals, conches and seashells. Please dont buy these. The reefs around Zanzibar are endangered because of reef overuse (diving, fishing etc).
Not only is it illegal to carry these out of Zanzibar (officials might randomly check your baggage, although when we were there noone bothered to), by buying these corals you will simply tempt the hawker to go back out to the endangered reefs and plunder them some more for $$$.
Unique Suggestions: Ask the local where he or she found the conches or seashells. Tell them you are not interested in buying anything that endangers the reef. If enough tourists do this, hopefully the locals will no longer find it lucrative enough to destroy the reef.
Fun Alternatives: There are plenty of alternate ways to help the local economy - use local guides, go on dhow sunset sails, buy locally grown spices, etc.
Updated Feb 26, 2004