First, when I got to the island, my hotel didn't have a taxi for me (despite talking to them the day before to remind them of my arrival). Lukman (very well known at the airport so you can ask for him by his name) greeted me and brought me to my hotel. In addition, he honored the taxi price my hotel quoted me (which was very nice of him).
Before he left, he gave me a brochure that listed available tours. After talking with a hotel guy about tours provided by the hotel and another tour company on the beach, I ended up texting* Lukman (255 776 416 155). Honestly, he had better tours, cheaper prices than the hotel, comparable prices to the other tour company, and you could do solo tours. Since I was by myself, not being able to go on a tour unless others went too didn't appeal to me. I didn't have to worry about that with Friendly Taxi and Tours.
We setup two tours for two days later; the infamous spice tour (that locals insist every tourist must do before they leave) and slave cave tours (not to be confused with the slave market tour in Stone Town). While Lukman can also serve as a guide for ANYWHERE he takes you, he prefers to let the locals do it. Of course, the locals are hoping for a tip. I gave each local guide 10,000TSH/TZS ($4.50 USD). They were happy with it, but I'm still wondering if I tipped too low. Anyway, because Lukman was so nice, he ended up taking me to tour three other areas; another slave holding area nearby, to a nearby restaurant with a breathtaking view, and a brief Stone Town tour. These weren't surprise stops-- he made sure I knew about each place beforehand and that I actually wanted to go.
Spice Tour – a really awesome tour! The local guide explained about every spice and fruit they grow. He tells you the Swahili name for it and the English translation. He tells you how it grows, its uses, and then cuts a piece of it for you so you can smell and touch it. After awhile, you have a few pieces in your hand and nothing to do with them. If you’re like me, you just politely hold them as the tour continues. Lol About the 4th or 5th piece in, another local shows up with a handmade bag for you to put the spice pieces in. It’s made with something right from the spice farm, but I’ve forgotten (possibly palm leaves, but I could be wrong). Once you’re given all of this awesome information about every spice they have, they take you to coconut trees where another local climbs up the VERY, VERY TALL coconut tree to grab a coconut for you. To add to the experience, he sings a Swahili song the whole time. Once he’s back down, they ask if you’d like it opened. I love fresh coconut water, so I was excited to say yes. After you drink it, they open it and cut out pieces of the coconut for you to eat, which I also like. Afterwards, I was handed a hat they made and I think, something else. They did also offer to take pictures of me with all of the handmade things. Before you go, you’re given the opportunity to taste fresh, local fruit and most importantly, buy fresh spices from the spice capital of the world! I almost forgot—somewhere in there I had the opportunity to buy locally made soap. I bought several of them and brought them back to family. I have been instructed to bring back more soap and spices on my second visit. Lol
Slave Coast – this was a must tour for me. I had no intentions of leaving the island without learning of its connection to slavery. You’re taken to a big cave where the local guide explains the history of the cave and what the slaves went through, that were held there. I won’t tell you here because I don’t want to spoil it, but I highly recommend it. You then walk back up the steps and to another area where they show you the unbelievable spot from which the slaves climbed out.
Slave Coast Pt 2 – I don’t know the name of this part of the tour, but it was nearby and I was asked if I wanted to see it too. Of course, I said yes. We ended up in front of the last holding area the slaves would be in before they were put on ships and taken from Africa. There’s a plaque erected here in honor and memory of the slaves that passed through the area, including the ones that were still smuggled through AFTER the slave trade and slavery were officially over. In addition, you can walk to the last sight they saw before they were taken out to board the ships—one of the most beautiful sights you will see on the whole island. I highly recommend going here.
Local Restaurant with AMAZING view – Almost as good as the last view I mentioned, this one should also not be missed. On the day I went, I was able to enjoy looking at the area by myself. A few of the small number of locals in the area briefly engaged me. They wanted to know where I was from and to make sure I was enjoying my time on the island. Finally, I ignored the shops behind me and sat at the restaurant. They have a mint and lime drink (non alcoholic) on the menu and as soon as I saw the combination, I immediately wondered why anyone would put those two flavors together. Little did I know. Lol I ended up drinking two of them before I decided on dinner. While I was eating dinner, lots of local boys showed up and started swimming. With some of them having swimming contests with each other and otherwise laughing, they provided me with free entertainment while I ate.
Stone Town tour – we did a brief Stone Town tour. I was leaving late the next day, but wouldn’t be able to come back to see it, so Lukman showed me some of it that night. It was the last tour and it was dark, but we walked around for at least 30 minutes. The coolest part was just seeing everything and oddly for me, learning about the doors and what they mean. I won’t tell you, I want you to find out on your own tour!
This is my second time in Zanzibar and I have done more tours with Lukman (which prompted this review), but I won't detail them because this review has been long enough. When I come back and whenever anyone comes to the island, I will always recommend this company and Lukman. I want to make sure everyone has the same great experiences as me.
*It's important to note that I got a Tanzania SIM when I landed in Dar Es Salaam (at least two, maybe three cell phone companies are just outside when you exit the airport on the international side) and it's what I used to text Lukman. But, he can also be reached on that number through What's App, a free app that let's you text and talk with others around the world that also have the app. I used the app to coordinate with him when I came back to the island.
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