Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Spice and Easy, a story of Zanzibar and Pemba - Rory Bremner

I've been very bad at arranging swanky holidays recently. That is, proper breaks, without the children. In fact, over the past 18 months, the sum total of Mr and Mrs Bremner's trips away have amounted to just four nights in the South of France and two nights in Harrogate. I'd highly recommend both, by the way, but they're hardly in the Hello! category.

When the chance did finally come for us to enjoy something more exotic, I faced an immediate problem - where, exactly, do you go for sunshine at this time of year? Political unrest in Egypt and the Maghreb, the bursting of Dubai's bubble and the likelihood of bumping into Michael Winner in the Caribbean have all conspired to narrow the choice.

Our criteria for a week's holiday were simple: less than ten hours' flying, preferably overnight; and a manageable time difference to somewhere offering both adventure and relaxation.

The beaches of India, the Maldives, Indonesia and the Far East were deemed too far, even though Burma looks tempting now that Aung San Suu Kyi's 15-year staycation has come to a welcome end.

Eschewing old favourites Cape Town and Morocco, we contacted Scott Dunn and plumped for Zanzibar off the East African coast. Great call.

Zanzibar - the original Spice Island. The very name conjures up exotic images in the mind's eye: tropical beaches, spice markets, dhow sails in the sunset. Well, what your mind sees is what you get.

In just under ten hours, good old British Airways had got us, comfortably and right on schedule, to Dar es Salaam, capital of Tanzania, where the tourists divide - some heading for the safari reserves of Ruaha, Selous or the Serengeti to see the animals (and the minibuses) in the Ngorongoro crater or climb Kilimanjaro.

Others, ourselves included, were transported to await our local onward flight in the VIP terminal.

This is in fact a basic concrete waiting room with open sides where birds hop in and out, a handful of Africans doze and a couple of locals sit chatting at a cafe called The Art of Coffee - the 'art' apparently being to dispense coffee with as much nonchalance and lack of interest as it's possible to muster. Welcome to Africa.

After a longish wait, our pilot arrived to tell us (reassuringly) that rather than wait another hour for fuel, we'd pick up some in Zanzibar before flying to our final destination: Pemba Island.

Read more: Daily Mail

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