Accommodation : Serena, Zanzibar
Transport : Sth African, Kenyan and Precision Air
There are great parts about travelling and then there are the not so great parts. Today is one of the later. A 4:15 am wake up call started the day ready for a 5am departure from the hotel. The airport is around twenty minutes from the waterfront but we made it in good time so after a smooth check in, the awful period of twiddling your thumbs whilst waiting for the boarding call. First flight South African Air Capetown to Johannesburg. The difficulty with this flight was that it was a domestic leg and so arriving in Joberg we needed to collect our bags and go through check in once more along with customs.
The next leg, Joberg to Nairobi was with Kenyan Air as part of our return flight home. The plane was a Dreamliner and the good thing for us that it wasn’t full so we got three seats for the price of two. Philip was impressed with the automatic dimming of the external windows but neither of us was impressed with the lack of air.
The other thing that is always hit or miss on planes is the food. You can smell it stewing and the smell rarely changes despite the secret surprise hiding underneath the foil. Beef or chicken take your pick! Pass
The flight to Nairobi was four hours flying time with Kenya being one hour ahead of South Africa time wise. This at least cuts the return trip home by four hours but still makes for a bloody long day on the 21st. (As we’ll be coming from Zanzibar)
Nairobi airport is a little different (and a little similar) to how we remembered it five years ago. Whilst there have been some add ons that are probably more upmarket in the real international section, unfortunately we were directed to the old part of the airport which is still hot and muggy with limited seating and duty free shops that look like $2.00 stores. The other thing that you notice about Nairobi as compared to some of the southern parts of Africa is that there are significantly more Arabic people using it as a gateway to somewhere else. I must have looked highly inappropriate – a white woman, sitting in shorts rather than covered up completely.
A couple of hours after arriving, we headed down onto the Tarmac to board our Precision Air flight (Tanzanian company). It was a 2×2 seating configuration, you know the pencil planes with the rotor blades you can see. The plane wasn’t very full at all so we scored two seats each which wasn’t a bad deal.
The hosties weren’t at all interested switching off the lights before we’d even departed and apart from a quick drink stop and beef roll, it was very obvious what we were all supposed to do…sleep!
The plane touched down at Stone Town some hour and a half later and we once again made our way down the steps, onto a bus and then into what was more like a giant tin shed than the arrivals terminal. Here stood an imposing lady at the door, demanding to see everyone’s yellow fever card, to know how long we’d been in Kenya and abruptly telling us we needed to fill in two forms with identical information and obtain a visa. Firstly we hadn’t been told we needed a visa for Zanzibar and secondly her tone left a little to be desired especially after it had been a long day of flying and we just wanted to get to the hotel. Despite this there was no hurrying the system. We filled in the forms and paid our $50US on card as demanded. Then we had to go through Immigration where Philip had some difficulty on the old digital fingerprint pad resulted in a little more angst (on both sides). Finally we made it through and out the back of the ‘shed’ where an equally grumpy driver was waiting to take us to our hotel.
Now when travelling in the dark it can be hard to get your bearings and this was especially the case as we headed down small lane ways, making multiple turns and not being sure exactly where we were going. Without the driver saying anything either we were a little left to our own imagination and there was a small moment when we both looked at one another and thought hmmm.
After twenty minutes or so, we pulled up at the Serena Zanzibar, the one with the security guard at the front helping to bring your bags onto the property, We had stayed at Serena hotels before in Kenya and Tanzania and they were high quality. The girl at the desk informed us that she’d given us a quality room…I thought they all were quality.
Yep quality three flights up with no elevator. I’m sure the porter thought it was quality. As it was the room did have a balcony that would have looked out on the ocean if it wasn’t dark. The room itself was probably quality for Zanzibar but maybe not so much in comparison to their other hotels. Still we were buggered and it was a good room. That was all we needed for the night.