Africa XXII: Stone Town and Heading Home

I’m very excited to share with you all the details of my Africa (Kenya/Tanzania) trip, and hopefully it helps you plan your own trip, encourages you to visit these places, or at the very least teaches you about another culture in another part of the world. I loved my Africa experience. To catch you up on my trip, check out all my Africa posts:

Africa I: Planning Logistics + Budgets + Immunizations + Clothing/Gear + Getting There
Africa II: Kenya Stop1, Baby Elephants
Africa III: Kenya Giraffes, Karen Blixen and Artcaffe
Africa IV: Arriving in Moshi + The Good Hope School
Africa V: Kilimanjaro Details
Africa VI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 1
Africa VII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 2
Africa VIII: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 3
Africa IX: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 4
Africa X: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 5
Africa XI: Kilimanjaro Machame Route Day 6 and 7
Africa XII: Nomad Tours Day 1, Visit the Snake Park
Africa XIII: Nomad Tours Day 2, Off to the Serengeti
Africa XIV: Nomad Tours, Our First Game Drive
Africa XV: Nomad Tours Day 3, Game Drives
Africa XVI: Nomad Tours Day 4, Game Drives!
Africa XVII: Nomad Tours Day 4, Maasai Warriors
Africa XVIII: Nomad Tours Day 5, The Ngorongoro Crater
Africa XIX: Nomad Tours Day 6 and 7, Overland to Dar es Salaam
Africa XX: Nomad Tours Day 8, Stone Town Zanzibar
Africa XXI: Nomad Tours Day 9+10, Northern Zanzibar

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Last I left off, Erica and I were with our Nomad Tours group for our Serengeti & Zanzibar 10 Day Trek South, where I finished my 10 day portion of the tour. Erica is continuing on with the group down to South Africa, but my time was now nearing an end. I continued with the group back to Stone Town where about half the group was splitting off and ending their tour. Back in Dar es Salaam, new people would join filling their place as the tour continued on. Instead of taking the ferry back to Dar, it just made more sense to spend an extra night in Zanzibar (heaven) and fly out through the Zanzibar Airport the next day.

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Before we left Northern Zanzibar we snapped this photo above. It’s everyone from our safari truck, minus Marjan who took this photo. I spent most of my time on the tour with these guys and they are defiantly my favorites 🙂 While Robin (on the left) and my sister (on the right) continued on the tour together, Marjan, Myrna (green tank-top) and Jorien (red and black) were also staying in Stone Town for their last night. This meant I could spend some more time with them before the trip had to end.

The van made it’s way back to Stone Town and they were nice enough to drop me at my hotel for the night (the Shangani Hotel). Once I got settled in my hotel, I decided to spend the rest of the day here exploring on my own.

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I was nervous about walking alone after dark (as a single lady and all), so I decided to spend the day packed with exercise and exploring so then at night I would crash. The hotel let me borrow this map above. and I went to a local coffee shop/book store to plan out my trek. My dutch friends were staying at the Zanzibar Coffee House (which was super adorable), so I decided to figure out the maze of old Stone Town to find how to get there from my hotel.

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And I made it! After getting super lost a whole bunch, I stumbled upon it! Funny enough they were in the cafe below and waved me in. We made dinner plans and I set off on more of my self-guided tour of Stone Town.

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I just love this maze!

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This is the view from my floor of the hotel.

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Here’s the view from the other end of the hall my room was on.

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I made another stop at the Freddie Mercury house, just a stroll down the street from my hotel.

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I then looped around the tip of Stone Town seeing as much of the water as I could.

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Zanzibar is famous for their specialty doors. Check out that detailing above.

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I took a ginger ale break by the water at Tembo House Hotel. This is also where we ended up having dinner. It was yummy and cheap! This place is also a swanky hotel.

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This is the view from my hotel room above.

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Here’s Jorien, Marjan, Myrna, and me enjoying my last meal in Africa (they had an extra day here). It was so nice of them to invite me to dinner. I miss them.

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The next morning I took an early morning cab to the Zanzibar Airport. My itinerary was to fly from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam and Dar to Nairobi, Kenya (both flights via Precision Air). From Nairobi, I was to fly to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to JFK (New York) via KLM Airlines. New York was my final destination, as I decided a 2 week East Coast layover was necessary after my Africa trip. I ended up only taking 1 of my 4 scheduled flights.

I arrived at the Zanzibar Airport to see I was the only person waiting for the flight. Curious. Also, there was no one at the desk I was supposed to check-in at. When I asked the Security Guard what to do the response I got was “you’re too early”. Also curious, because  the flight was set to leave in 45 minutes… then 40 minutes… then 5 minutes.. then I officially missed the flight as I sat their waiting for anyone to come to the airline desk.

Once someone finally arrived, I was told that the fight I had booked a ticket on didn’t exist. Greaaaaat. I still had 3 additional flights to catch this same day, and already I was behind.

They were very nice and booked me on a 10:30a flight to Dar. Since I would miss my Dar to Nairobi flight, they booked me on a later flight for that leg too. I would make it into Nairobi with enough time to still catch my KLM flights. So at 7am it was already clear I would only be making 2 of my scheduled flights for the day. But alas I would still make it to NYC on schedule.

***When planning travel, especially in foreign countries, allow a TON of extra time between flights in the event that this happens. Thank goodness I allowed time for error.

So I arrive in Niarobi in time and make my scheduled KLM flight to Amsterdam. YES! Finally I made a flight I was supposed to be on. I arrive in Amsterdam to hear that KLM has canceled my 2nd flight from Amsterdam to New York. I was SO close, and yet still not home. They rebooked me on a later flight, so I had an extra 4 hours to kill at the Amsterdam Airport.

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This happened to be the same day that Robin Williams passed away. I first heard of this while waiting in the Dar es Salaam Airport. There was one tv and it had the bbc news on. I was shocked. Then at the Amsterdam Airport I saw this headline. I can’t read it, but I know what it says. So sad. So sad.

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While in the Amsterdam Airport I had plenty of time to walk around and explore, and I saw the weirdest food flavors.

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Look at this HUGE mentos!?! I put my hand in the photo for a sense of scale. Crazy.

After waiting around wishing I were back on US soil and daydreaming of what my “first meal” would be, I made my rescheduled flight back to the US. I was sad to leave Africa but so excited to have something I really missed: CHEESE! My first meal on US soil was Chipotle! And it was sooooo good!

I must say that after contacting KLM and submitting a request for refund (which is within their rules, as if you are on a rescheduled flight that leaves 3 hours later than scheduled, you are entitled to a partial refund), they refunded part of my flight. I am very grateful, as arriving many hours later created a ripple effect making getting into Connecticut significantly more difficult and expensive (it was rush hour).

Both Precision Air and KLM messed up my flights, but both did an excellent job trying to make it right. The customer service at both companies was top notch and I appreciate their efforts to get me home.

I’m sad to say this is the end of my Africa posts… for now 🙂 Hopefully I take a trip back to do the rest of my Nomad Tour sometime in the near future. Than you for reading and be sure to email me (lifeabsorbed@gmail.com) with any questions!

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