Honeymoon Secrets: Zanzibar

Honeymoon Secrets: Zanzibar

Spice up your honeymoon to Zanzibar with Expert Africa's Honeymoon Secrets...

Honeymoon Secret #1

Snorkel from the shore in Menai Bay

Shh… Located in the island's south-west, the Menai Bay Conservation area is Zanzibar's largest protected marine area offers ample opportunity for diving and snorkelling excursions among the colourful marine corals and fish. The aquatic life of the coast of Zanzibar is some of the most diverse on the planet, with regular sitings of turtles and dolphins and occasionally hump back whales.

Tell me more… Tucked away on the edge of the conservation area, Unguja Lodge is the only place in Zanzibar where it's possible to snorkel straight off the beach. Run by the ever-helpful couple, Ralph and Elies, it consists of 11 spacious villas with curved, whitewashed walls and high thatched roofs. There's a pool, and gardens with baobabs, but it's all about the beach. It's completely covered at high tide, but once the sea recedes you can wade out down the gradual bank, and start spotting the colourful critters. September to February, when the seas are calmest, are the best times of year to take to the water.

Honeymoon Secret #2

Head out to sea for a secluded sandbar picnic

Shh… Zanzibar's quiet southwestern corner offers a number of tiny islands and sandbanks, perfect for a gentle morning's snorkelling followed by a freshly barbecued fish lunch on a deserted sandbank.

Tell me more…These remote sandbars are reached by locally-crafted dhow, a traditional sailing vessel used by Zanzibari fisherman. Fumba Beach Lodge is our pick for organising sandbar picnics but other lodges should be able to do so too. While you relax on the beach and take in you surroundings, your crew will make you a traditional Zanzibarian lunch - freshly caught fish cooked over an open fire. Costs may vary from lodge to lodge but expect to pay around £120 for the day.

Honeymoon Secret #3

Benefit the community by taking a traditional massage

Shh… Relax and unwind at Zanzibar's most unique spa. Stone Town is choc-a-block with modern spas and wellness centres, but Mrembo Spa is something special; it's the only one offering centuries-old traditional massages using handmade oils and scrubs. Mrembo also employs specially trained deaf and blind therapists who will grind spices there and then to make your body scrubs, as well as give you an incredible massage. This is part of a local community project, providing them with much-needed employment.

Tell me more… The spa was founded by Dutch born Stefanie Schoetz who gathered Mrembo's recipes while studying the uses of herbs and flowers at local spice plantations. Signature treatments include a Singo (a natural scrub traditionally used when a Zanzibar girl gets married) prepared from fresh jasmine, ylang ylang flowers, rose petals, geraniums, sweet basil and sandalwood, all mixed together in a traditional kinu blender with rosewater. Husbands needn't miss out, either: the Kidonge clove scrub is reserved generally for men. CDs of the local taarab music play soothingly in the background throughout all treatments. What's more, products are for sale so you can recreate the fragrant experience from the comfort of your own home.

Honeymoon Secret #4

Upgrade your spice tour

Shh… Spices are intergral to Zanzibari life, providing food, remedies, dyes and income. It's no wonder that traditional spice tours are so popular (Visitors get guided around a plantation to pick leaves, pods and twigs, and discover how cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric grow. But you can upgrade your experience by taking a 'Princess Salme tour' which combines the spicy stuff with some fascinating socio-historical trivia of the Arabic influence on Zanzibar.

Tell me more…  Princess Salme was a daughter of the Sultan of Zanzibar & Oman, whose 19th century letters were later published as Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar. The tour named for her takes in evocative palace ruins, a traditional coffee ceremony, where fresh Tanzanian coffee will be traditionally brewed in a cloy pot in front of you, a Persian bath, and beautiful Omani-style houses… It also includes a vast lunch of traditional Pilau, fish masala, roast meat, stewed bananas, kachumbari salad, several vegetarian dishes, an array of fruits, fresh fruit juice and spice tea.

Honeymoon Secret #5

Extend your trip with a safari

Shh…The Selous Game Reserve offers excellent safaris and top notch game lodges, and is far less visited than its northern counterparts, such as the Serengeti.  Also, being on Tanzania's southern safari circuit, it links much more easily and smoothly with both Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam, the capital from where flights arrive and depart.

Tell me more… Just an hour's flight from Zanzibar, the Selous Game Reserve's lakes and waterways allow for both 4WD safaris and boat trips. It's often labelled Africa's largest single game reserve, but that's a slightly misleading statistic, as nine-tenths of it is private. A more telling point is that in the other tenth, there are only a handful of camps, meaning you often go entire days without seeing other groups.

The most luxurious camps are Beho Beho and Siwandu, while Lake Manze is known for its extraordinary value. Animal-wise, you can see lion and leopard; the Selous also boasts Africa's largest buffalo population, and is sometimes known as "Giraffic Park" such is its vast concentration of giraffes. Walking tours of the area are also avaiable. The best time to go is during the long dry season, between June and October - clear skies, warm temperatures.

About the experts

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Expert Africa is a travel company that is serious about organising safaris and holidays which really suit our travellers. All of our straight-talking team have travelled extensively in Africa; most of us have also lived and worked there. We'll advise you from first-hand experience, guiding you to make well-informed decisions for the best possible trip. Then we'll work hard to organise your holiday faultlessly, and all at a price that's great value.

As well as Zanzibar, Expert Africa has advice (and honeymoon secrets!) to share for many destinations across the continent.

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