The North – Nungwe Village
All too soon we were whisked away from Ras Michamvi and the south-east coast by our driver, Hashim, in another of our specially appointed transfer and tour company Babou Tours’ wonderfully comfortable silver Toyota 8-seater air-conditioned taxis. Via the villages of Michamvi and Paje we cruised, first westwards then northwards up the centre of the island towards Nungwe Village situated at the northern tip of the island. Passing through rice and sugar cane fields, and endless coconut and palm plantations. Passing bicycles, Dulla-Dulla’s filled with European tourists and locals plied through the rural villages and mini-markets, and we arrive at our destination Lang Langi a mere hour and a half later.
At Reception, we were given the keys to our room. Porters led us through a beautiful Zanzibari door, up one flight of stairs and we found we were only one of two rooms in this part of the building. The view through our windows completely took our breath way as the door opened and we took in the exquisite azure aqua vista of ocean which stretched to the horizon, with vessels of all kinds dotted around at anchor: a yacht or two, dhows, dive-boats and fishing vessels. We entered our spacious sea-facing double-room, complete with a colourful, flower-decorated Zanzibari four-poster bed with mosquito net, wardrobe, desk/chair with tea/coffee making station, upholstered chairs, antique couch, table and mini-fridge. The bathroom is entered through a swing door and spans the width of the room with a lovely spacious shower.
We discovered that the waves were gently lapping right beneath our room and that we were very centrally-situated in Nungwe Village with resorts stretching for a mile or two on either side of us. Although we were on the northern tip of Zanzibar, we were in fact facing the sunset. We couldn’t wait to explore!
We took a long walk south down the beach and back through the dusty roads and alleys of the village, where we spent lazy time bargaining for a patterned shirt, a sarong and beautiful beadwork. The resort restaurant was directly below our room on a wooden deck supported on wooden stilts above the ocean. Each morning we breakfasted there in style on a typical Zanzibari menu – fruit, coffee, juice and omelettes with toast and sausages.
The weather was perfect and we descended the restaurant stairs straight into the warm, transparent waters for a swim, laughing for the pure joy of being in such a paradise, floating along over the gently undulated waves – what heaven!
Each morning we’d watch the dive-boats go out, returning a few hours later with happy divers and snorkellers climbing down into the shallow sea, unpacking equipment to get ready for the next trip out to the reef, which we heard is around 12 m deep.
We bought wine and beer at a tiny grocery store for sun-downers on our balcony, visited the Bureau de Change to exchange Dollars for Shillings, which are more commonly used in the markets, and we dine on seafood in the evenings at a couple of very beautiful restaurants all facing out over the sea, listening to the waves gently lapping against the rock walls. One evening, we walked past resorts and hotels along a paved pathway to the far north and enjoyed a Mojito in the moonlight, sitting at a little table in the sand in the middle of a small beach with not a soul anywhere near us.
During our stay, we hired bicycles and rode along dusty, bumpy roads down the coast to visit the luxury Ras Nungwe resort which we’d been invited to visit. We were met by the typically friendly staff and the reservationist who seemed to be in charge and were shown around a fabulous, up-market and large resort with rolling lawns, colourful tropical gardens, beautifully-appointed accommodation, sparkling pool and long stretch of powdery white beach.
Our last evening was spent, once again, on a sunset dhow trip for an hour and a half, this time on a much larger vessel with seats below and upstairs and four men in attendance. We were joined by another couple and sun-downers were poured as we skimmed along, sail flapping, looking down through the transparent azure ocean to the smooth white sand below while the sun, a fiery red ball, gradually dipped beneath the horizon.
That night all was quiet as the restaurant closed at 10 PM as we listened to the gently lapping waves beneath us, lulling us into a deep, happy sleep enclosed by our mosquito netting, with door and windows wide open to the gentle sea breeze.
Another chapter of our journey has come to an end all too soon!