Hi I’m Gaby or Malaika

Gaby Dec 2012

Sounds like an intro at an AA meeting 🙂 But no, I am not an alcoholic. I have a let’s say infatuation though, which is Zanzibar!

Born in Germany many moons ago, I emigrated to South Africa in the 80s and found my final destination in Zanzibar. After several holidays I moved here permanently in 2011. I am truly blessed to live on my little dream island and am enjoying every minute!

Yes, Zanzibar has the most beautiful powdery white sand beaches lined with coconut trees and the ever warm Indian Ocean with gentle waves (especially the east coast of Zanzibar is protected by a coral reef that keeps the big waves out and also sharks and any other undesirables). But the Zanzibaris make this island so very special: Zanzibaris smile with their eyes, genuinely, and welcome us foreigners with open arms and a hearty “Jambo” to their home – Zanzibar.

A while back I started a facebook page “Zanzibar Insider Buzz” with info, specials etc on Zanzibar, mainly for my friends and associates all over the world.  It became very popular and I got so many requests for information that is not easily found on the usual (commercial) websites. I then began to write a document covering all sorts of topics on Zanzibar.  That document very quickly became too big and I had to find another portal.

That’s how this blog was born. Here you find information on the island from my perspective, based on my knowledge and experiences made as a Zanzibar resident of many years. I am equally humbled and excited that this blog has been viewed 180,000 times so far. This is obviously work in progress and I keep on updating it. Any questions about anything I haven’t covered yet are most welcome.

For current specials, videos and events that I know of please visit my facebook page “Zanzibar Insider Buzz”.

Please note that I cannot recommend places of accommodation. Zanzibar has now over 500 hotels, guest houses, hostels and so forth.  Kindly consult Tripadvisor, booking.com etc.

A word of caution: An increasing number of tourists fall in love with Zanzibar and want to buy land here. Be very careful! Please read my recommendations on the page “To do and not do do”, scroll down to the section “Buying property on Zanzibar”.

Happy reading and enjoy exploring Zanzibar.

Sunny greetings and Karibu sana!

contact: zanzibargaby@gmail.com
michamvi-robinson-crusoe-beach1.jpg

37 thoughts on “Hi I’m Gaby or Malaika

  1. Hi
    I’m visiting zanzibar for the first time
    Can you recommend a reliable car rental
    Is there anything important to know about driving in zanzibar the net is full of remarks and I’m not sure what us really true.
    What is your opinion of the sea cliff resort ?
    Can you give me the name of a website that can give helpful tips on where to party and which beaches are for young couples
    Thank you so much

    Like

    • Hi Rachel,
      Car rental: http://www.kibabucars.com
      Driving on zanzibar: pls read page “driving/getting around” of my blog
      Heard very good things about Seacliff, haven’t been there myself though.
      No clue about website re party spots etc. There is a full moon party at Kendwa Rocks in the North of Zanzibar.
      Cheers

      Like

  2. Hello
    Thank you for all the information on your blog.
    We are an Australian family travelling to Tanzania over December/Jan. It will be our children’s first trip to the country where their father was born. We will only have 3 nights in Zanzibar and I have already made a note of your recommendations regarding ferry, south east coast, car hire and contacted Mustapha’s Place! Given our short time and 3 children(aged 15,12, 7 who love the beach) I’m thinking that our best plan is to hire a car and driver for a day or 2 half days. What would be your top 3 recommendations of all the great places you suggest?

    Like

    • Hello from Zanzibar,
      Great to hear you are going to visit our beautiful island. 3 days is a very short time for the island.
      First and foremost, you of course need to go snorkelling (which the staff of Mustaphas can arrange for you).
      You should visit Jozani Forest, which is a 20 min drive from Mustaphas/Bwejuu. Besides the Red Colubus Monkeys (who live freely in the forest, not in cages!) you will see the mangroves and if you are lucky, the huge crabs. If you are into butterflies, you can also visit the butterfly farm which is a 10 min drive from Jozani Forest.
      I also recommend a visit to the spice farm as a must do, although that means you have to travel to Stone Town (about 1 hour drive from Bwejuu) – you can combine it with a guided walking tour through Stone Town.
      You might also want to have a sunset barbeque at the beach of Michamvi, which is a peninsula 20 km north of Bwejuu. From the west facing side of the peninsula you can watch one of our glorious sunsets. Mambo Poa Tours in Jambiani organizes the barbeque, also “tours off the beaten track” (especially interesting for your kids). Check out http://www.mambopoatours-zanzibar.com
      Hope this helps.
      Cheers

      Like

  3. Hi Gaby,
    I am so happy I found your website, it’s filled with very useful information! We are a family of 4 visiting from Southern California – kids are 13 and 11 . We are going to be visiting Zanzibar for 4 days after our Safari. We for sure want to check out Stone Town – would a day and a half be enough here? We are a beach family and love the water -for the beach part of our trip which area would you recommend? Thank you, Tonya

    Like

    • Hi Tonya,
      Great to hear you find my website helpful.
      Since you are only here for 4 days, I suggest that you spend one day in Stone Town. That will be enough to do the historical walking tour and a visit of prison island or a trip to a spice farm.
      In my opinion, the south east coast is the best on Zanzibar. It’s not as touristy as the north coast (Nungwi and Kendwa). If your kids want to do sports activities, Paje is the best choice. If you don’t mind to walk about 3 km on the beach to Paje, stay at Bwejuu. It’s much cheaper than Paje. My insider secret choice of accommodation is Mustapha’s Place in Bwejuu.
      Hope this helps.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  4. Hi Malaika,
    My husband and I are coming to Zanzibar in January and I have a few questions I couldn’t find the answers to in your blog:

    – Do we need to book tickets ahead of time for the ferry from Dar es Salaam
    – We’re renting a jeep from Kibabu and will be self-driving around the island for 10 days. We were hoping to camp on the beach but I don’t see camping advertised as an accomodation option, is it possible at all?

    Many thanks,
    Melanie

    Like

    • Hi Melanie,
      You have to book the ferry tickets ahead of time. The ferries are full during high season. There are long queues, even if you already have tickets.
      Please read my page “getting here” regarding ferry as opposed to taking a local flight. The prices are similar. If you are in the center of Dar already, you don’t have to worry about the high taxi cost. If you arrive by plane, I recommend you take a plane for the 15 min trip to Zanzibar. Taxis are very expensive and traffic is horrendous from the airport to the ferry, or vice versa.
      Camping or sleeping in tents is not allowed on Zanzibar. You for sure will get into trouble with the local police. There are a few budget places all over the island, or you can book a bed in dorms.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

    • Hi Slava, well written, excellent observations and advice. I will gladly also add the link to my Zanzibar Insider Buzz facebook page. Glad to know that you thoroughly enjoyed “my” island.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

  5. hello Gaby,
    i will be staying near Jambiani beach for 5 nights and then move close to stown town for another 4.
    i will rent a car, and i was wondering whether you can help me and suggest where to go from each place.
    i am instersted in seeing all the beautiful beaches, spice farms, forest….
    Anna

    Like

    • Hi Anna,
      Please read the pages “Discover Zanzibar south of Stone Town” (when you are driving to Jambiani and also whilst you stay in Jambiani).
      For the beaches: you’ll find the best beaches on the stretch Jambiani – Paje – Bwejuu, which you can discover by taking a leasurely walk. Drive to Pingwe (where the Rock Restaurant is, and Upendo opposite) and Michamvi, where you also find beautiful beaches.
      When you are in Stone Town, please read “Discover Zanzibar north of Stone Town”. When you drive from Stone Town to the north, check out Kendwa beaches. Nungwi is for my liking far too touristy.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  6. Hi Gaby
    Great blog…thank you.
    What are your views on Matemwe and how does it compare to Paje which seem to favour!
    Any views on the hotels there?
    Thanks
    Howard

    Like

    • Hi, you are most welcome.
      I personally prefer the south east coast stretch from Michamvi to Jambiani. There you find the typical white sand beaches lined with coconut trees.
      Please check Tripadvisor etc for reviews on hotels.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

  7. Hello Gaby
    Is there a company to hire good mountainbikes to make some cycling trips?
    I can imagine Zanzibar is a great place for cycling.
    Thanks in advance
    By
    Roderick

    Like

    • Hello Roderick,
      There are many places all over the island where you can rent regular bicycles. Depending on the area, you can also rent mountainbikes and even e-bikes, for example in Paje.
      Cheers
      Gaby

      Like

  8. Hi Gabby.

    Hope you are doing well.

    Sorry to bug you with another query but would you happen to know if there are any ‘schools’/places on the island offering English lessons to the local community?

    Thank you so much.

    Kristina

    Like

    • Hi Kristina,
      There are a number of projects on the island that endeavour to teach adults the English language.
      English is also taught at the State University of Zanzibar in Tunguu.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

  9. Hello Gaby! I also would like to do as so many others have done, which is to thank you for a great an informative blog on all the practical know-how about Zanzibar. It really is a great compliment to guide books and travel stories.

    The question I have is about contacts and procedure if me and my family would like to support a local school in Jambiani. We will be there for a couple of weeks in early february and are thinking about making a donation of pens, notebooks and some other things we think the school will benefit from.

    I’m aware of the delicate problem of the fact that we need to do this in the right way. We understand that the teacher or principal is the one to give the gifts to and not to the children directly. We are also aware of that a time need to be settled not to intrude in the schools daily routine.

    So my question is: do you have any contacts at the school in Jambiani or know any person who could be a link between us and the school? Would you happen to know what other things or material they could be in need of? Maybe a football, skipping ropes or other toys that could be used by several kids? And finally: we consider to bring our used, but functional Iphone 4 and charger, to give to the school or teacher. Would that be appropriate and practical, or do you know of any other person or organization who will benefit from a used phone.

    Best regards Patrick

    Like

    • Hello Patrick,
      Thank you, glad to hear you appreciate the info on my blog.
      I contacted friends of mine who live in Jambiani for over 30 years. Alastair and Pat are very much involved there in community work, they know best which school or project would greatly benefit from your support. I will get back to you as soon as I receive their recommendations.
      Many blessings to you and your family.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

      • Fantastic!

        I really appreciate your time and effort to make contact with your friends in Jambiani. Looking forward to your answer. Best regards /Patrick

        Like

      • Hi Patrick,
        I met with Pat and Alastair in the meantime. Apparently, and shockingly, the school principals/officials all over the island hand out donated pens, pencils, notebooks (which have to be in a certain format and therefore must be bought on the island) and other goods to the pupils while the tourists watch, but when they leave all these donations are taken away from the kids – in order to be sold in the school shop!
        Pat suggested that to ensure the kids get to keep the pencils etc, they must be handed out directly to them, not as a gift but rather as a reward. An excellent way to do so is to organize days of collecting recycling garbage that is washed up on the beaches, together with Zanrec (recycling company). For every collected bag of recycling the child gets a pen, for example. Pat will gladly organize such events.
        Ever since Pat and Alastair arrived on the island 30 years ago they work tirelessly to support and uplift the local community. They founded the Hands Across Borders Society (HABS), a Canadian and Zanzibar registered NGO whose main focus is to provide free health care and education to those in need, specifically on the island of Zanzibar.
        You are welcome to contact them on habszanzibar@yahoo.ca to arrange to meet them at their house in Jambiani and to drop off any goods you wish to donate for the kids.
        I will also amend my blog regarding donations at the schools accordingly.
        Cheers
        Gaby

        Like

  10. Really appreciate this blog as a realistic day-to-day view of the island. Really looking forward to coming. My question is whether to hire a 4-wheel drive car or to hire a driver for the 6 days of our stay? We have driven when in Mauritius and in Koh Samui in Thailand but both are pretty stressful with the amount of scooters. So I’ve read your driving tips, what would you suggest please?

    Like

  11. Hello Gaby,
    I am travelling to Zanzibar in 2 weeks and I wanted to help in someway. I was thinking about taking some school material to distribute in some schools. Can you please tell me what kind of school material is more needed?

    Thank you very much in advance.

    Like

    • Hello Hugo,
      That’s great. You can bring pencils and pens. Often 10 kids share one pencil or pen. Notebooks must be of a certain format, best is if you buy those in Stone Town. Please be aware that many school principals seem to distribute the gifts to the pupils in front of the kind tourists, but these gifts are taken away from the kids after the tourists leave and are sold then in the school shop. Please don’t hand out the gifts to the kids directly! I suggest that you ask at your hotel for the name of the person that organizes the regular beach clean-ups in that area and then donate the pens etc to that organizer, to be then given to the kids for every bag full of plastics etc that they collected on the beach.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

      • Gaby thank you so much for your reply. I will do as you suggest, I also checked on a website called Pack for a Purpose and there they mention some places that need materials.

        Cheers, Hugo

        Like

  12. Hello Gaby,
    Very useful info, thank you.
    I’ll be coming solo from Lebanon to Zanzibar from October 12th till 29th. I shall take notes of your recomendations and tips
    My concern is the length of my visit may be too long for a solo visitor, am I right? Do you think splitting the time with maybe seychells is a good idea? Do you recommend other places in Tanzania?
    Thank you

    Like

    • Hello Samar,
      Many visitors of Zanzibar spend 2-3 weeks on Zanzibar, solo travellers, couples, families. Besides exploring our beautiful beaches there is lots to do here. Please read the three different “Discover” pages of my blog. Should you get bored you could take a trip to Selous Game Reserve on Tanzania mainland – that’s only a 2 1/2 hours flight – or the Serengeti. It depends on what you like or are interested in.
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

  13. Hey Gaby!

    I’m so glad I’ve found your blog — in a brief two and a half weeks, I will be visiting Zanzibar with my older brother. Currently, we are planning on flying in from JRO, and thinking of spending 4 days (max.) in Zanzibar since we are only in Tanzania for a week.

    1) How are the scooter / motorbike rentals in Zanzibar (and Tanzania in general, if you do happen to know)? Would you have a recommendation for a rental company perhaps? And would you say that it would be possible for us to ride a scooter to some tourist spots on the island? Would you consider them a safe and more affordable alternative to renting a car in Zanzibar?

    2) Do you think that spending four days in Zanzibar may not be enough? Our agenda is to have a mixture of relaxed beach days, possibly snorkelling, and a bit of sight seeing. This would leave us with the remaining three days visiting surrounding destinations of Arusha, namely Lake MAnyara and Tarangire national park.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Jin Young

    Like

    • Hi Jin Young,

      Four days are far too short for Zanzibar, but it’s better than nothing.

      Scooters are available for rent anywhere on the island. Bring your original driver’s license since you need a driving permit for a scooter. In my opinion it is not safe to drive a scooter here, please read page “driving/getting around” on my blog for more details.

      There is lots to do and to explore on the island, besides our amazing beaches (especially at the south east coast) and snorkeling. Please read the “discover” pages on my blog and see what interests you.

      Cheers,
      Gaby

      Like

  14. Hello Gaby,

    First of all thank you very much for this amazing blog. I have been in 67 countries and before all my journeys including business oriented ones I alway check local blogs and simply yours is the best. I admire your patience and kidness. I will try to avoid repeated questions or information but if my questions have been already replied please forgive me in advance:)

    I will travel to the island by myself (landing at 1:00 pm on 20th of Sep and leave at 5 pm on 24th of Sep) I rented a car unfortunately before reading your blog and prefered coompany, hope I will not have any problem. I will appreciate if you can make your comments for my below questions, I will be staying at Nungwi:

    1) I see you mentioned Google maps. Is there a good signal all over the island with local simcard and is Google Maps accurate to find pinned points?
    2) I read you mentioned Paje about parties, since you dont recomend drinking and driving I would like to hang out in Nungwi at night, could you please recommend me parties or bars in that area?
    3) Do you think trying to be mobile on the island is efficient? My concern is wasting my time too much while driving but at the same time in my limited 4.5 days I want to experience as much as possible
    4) Can you please make your comment about my agenda? Saturday: Nungwi combined with turtle park, Sunday Paje, combined with Rock Restaurant (do I need reservation?) and swim in Blue Lagoon. Monday:Blue Safari. Tuesday: Hang out in Stone Town from 8 am to 2 pm before my return flight, do you think I can also make Prison Island visit in this 6 hours slot?
    5) I live in SA and besides USD planning to bring ZAR but I saw some terrible rates such as 110, I checked the link that you mentioned, rates are far better there but I couldnt find if there is any commission charger or not. Can you please let me know current rate of ZAR/TSH.
    6)Since I will land on Friday, can I find open exchange offices in Stone Town? Based on your advices I want to make money exchange in Stone town

    Thank you very much agin for this great blog.

    Ali

    Like

    • Hello Ali,
      Oh my, sounds like you visited most of the countries in the world. Thank you for your kind words. I made it my mission to inform as many tourists as possible about this beautiful island before they arrive here, that they know exactly what to expect and make the most of their holiday here.
      4.5 days are not enough of course to explore the island but its better than nothing.
      As to your questions:
      1) Best get a “Zantel” simcard, they have the best coverage on the island. You will be able to use Google maps in the coastal areas, it works well here. There is no alternative anyway, the available printed “maps” are outdated.
      2) I have no idea about bars or parties in Nungwi. Rather post your question on Tripadvisor “Zanzibar Forum”, you’ll get advice from people who’ve recently been in the area.
      3) I would always opt to rent a car. It gives you independence, saves time, you can stop wherever you want to and it is much cheaper than using a taxi.
      4) Sounds good. Rather reserve a table at The Rock. You can fit a trip to Prison Island into the available 6 hours.
      5) Please use the link on my blog to CRDB Bank Forex Rates for current rates. I don’t know if a commission is charged. Last time I exchanged money the exchange bureaus were still in business, there were no commission charges at that time. You can also withdraw cash at local ATMs with your credit card, you’ll get Tzs.
      6) The banks and their foreign exchange outlets are open on Friday afternoons. You can also exchange money at the airport, the bureau at the parking lot has good rates.
      Have a wonderful holiday on my beautiful island
      Cheers, Gaby

      Like

  15. Jambo 🙂
    I’m Cristóvão and i’m neither addict or alcoholic hehe
    I came by just to thank you for your help. Your site is being very helpful in preparing my trip to “your” beautiful island.
    I’ll be there during February, which I think is a good time to see the island.
    If you want I can offer you a drink to toast your good work in helping travelers 🙂 and also to tell me more stories about the island
    I took your advice and rented a scooter from Kibabucars.
    Thanks again for your help.Ahsante
    Kwaheri

    Cristóvão

    Like

    • Sijambo, Cristóvão.
      Haha, be careful, Zanzibar is highly addictive.
      Thank you, glad my info helps. February is an excellent time to visit Zanzibar, it’s very hot though.
      Have a wonderful holiday on “my” beautiful island 🙂
      Kwaheri, Gaby

      Like

  16. Hello Gaby,
    Thank you for your website, we are visiting Zanzibar this week and your site has been useful for planning our own visit. I have a question, my friend started a charity about beachsports with some projects to work with local NGOs, orphanages and give the kids opportunity to learn how to play beach soccer, Footvolley, beach tennis. Do you know of any of these organizations who we can speak to? Another question, are there any individuals or cooperatives that can make some simple bags from natural materials? One last one, Could you be knowing where we source some old fishing nets?

    Cheers!!
    Urban.

    Like

    • Hello Urban,
      I suggest that you contact the organizers of the annual Zanzibar Beach and Watersports Festival in Jambiani via their fb page of the same name. They will for sure be able to give you the required info.
      Additionally I suggest that you contact the NGO “Move_Zanzibar” also in Jambiani. They do amazing work with the local kids, you might want to collaborate with them. Contact also via their fb page, Clalence is very quick to respond.
      For simple bags made of our beautiful Kanga visit Malkia in Bwejuu – turn left onto the sandroad just after you passed the Bwejuu Charity School.
      Old fishing nets you get from the local fishermen at the beaches.
      Cheers,
      Gaby

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s