Thanks for your email. I have been meaning to write to you to thank you, but the waiting work and 360 emails flooding in had precedence!
Thank you so much for helping us to go on a PERFECT holiday! Our trip to Zanzibar was everything we had hoped for and more! Just an awesome experience made all the more enjoyable by having you plan and arrange everything for us. The fights, transfers and accommodating were all perfect and it was really a pleasure not to have to do it all ourselves, like we usually do. It was out first time to using a travel agent and like you say it was such a pleasure not to have to spend hours on the internet having to research and book everything ourselves! We will definitely use you and your excellent service more from now on!
So now a few comments on different aspects of the trip.
The emigration / security at Hosea Kutako airport is once again just a nightmare and people now have to expect to queue for a minimum of 2hrs to go through security. This is especially applicable for the flights around noon / early afternoon as a number of flights depart around about the same time. My guess is that it would be better for those flight that depart early or later in the evening, where there are less planes taking off?
Mango is a budget airline, so we knew what to expect. Would be good to advise people that they don’t serve any complimentary food or drinks and that people need to buys their own beforehand or take Rands (cash) to buy their expensive offerings (They also don’t take credit cards and we felt sorry for our neighbours, who had no cash, and sponsored them a meal and drink).
Also be aware the Mango “confiscate” just about all hand luggage at the aircraft door and force people to stow this in the aircraft luggage hold. We has a small carry on suitcase, which they made us give up. Only Danica’s bag was allowed on the plane.
Zanzibar airport is “basic” and we had to wait for more than an hour to receive our luggage, which was carried into the terminal by hand, one piece at a time by airport staff!
My visa (Namibia and all SADC countries) was free. Danica’s was U$100! Although the website and all info we got said it should be U$50 – anyway, no point in arguing with officials as this can or would just aggravate them – so we just paid it. Also, they do not take cash and payment had to be done by credit card. (This after we just about had to sign our children away and fill in lots of paperwork in order to get U$D cash at the bank in Namibia!)
The transfers between the airport and hotels, by Gallery Tours, were good with friendly staff!
Uroa Bay Beach Resort:
Overall our experience was great! We loved the rooms and the food. The reception / lounge area is not great, but perfectly adequate. It is by no means a fancy place and the four star rating would be more like a two or three star rating according to our Namibian standards. Nevertheless we appreciate the local touch and left right at home as the place seemed more authentic as opposed to some “transplanted fancy place”.
People need to aware of their relaxed attitude towards smokers as one can often find oneself downwind from smokers who are allowed to smoke just about everywhere.
We went and bought UK power adaptors, but these don’t work at Uroa, where they use only the 2 prong European plug sockets. Luckily the hotel had some adaptors for us!
WiFi only in common areas (which we knew – so it was fine). WiFi is not reliable though and sometimes does not work.
People also need to be aware that the locals wait on the beach and pounce on tourists as soon as they step off the property to try and sell activities or products. These locals are quite persistent and only go away or leave you in peace once you have said “No thank you” 20 times or start ignoring them! LOL!
Service and staff were super friendly and accommodating. They often forgot to return our towels in the bathroom or to refill the coffee in the room, but reacted quickly when we phoned reception to remind them.
The hotel would do well to employ someone to clean up the beach a bit. Remove the worst of the plastic and other rubbish that washes up on the beach. Not only would it make the stunning beach more beautiful, but it would also help the ocean and the environment.
Our best excursion from Uroa was to go snorkelling at Mnembwa Island. Only an hour’s drive away, a short 15min boat ride across the ocean channel to the island and it supports the local community who operate the boats and rent out the snorkelling gear. The snorkelling, abundance of colourful fish, beautiful turquoise waters and stunning white sandbanks were inspiring!
We LOVED Tembo Hotel. Everything about it, rooms, service, food, authentic local flair, old world charm and friendly service. A real gem in Stone Town!
It is definitely easier to do excursions / tours from Stone Town and in retrospect I would have spent more time there. We did the spice tour and the Stone Town tour from there and really enjoyed those activities!
Plenty of good restaurants around. Local are friendly and we loved exploring the narrow alleys of Stone Town. We felt perfectly safe and were surprised how clean and neat everything was after seeing disheartening amounts of plastic and rubbish in the countryside / local villages.
Overall we had a fantastic time and we would recommend Zanzibar and your services to anyone!
I’m sure Danica will add more (or correct some of my statements).
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