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Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar: Gem of culture, jewel of the Indian Ocean

Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar: Gem of culture, jewel of the Indian Ocean BY WOLE SHADARE  DAR ES Salaam, located on the coast of Tanzania in East Africa is a gem of culture and diversity for any traveller who is in search of a place to unwind. WOLE SHADARE writes that it is a place to savour nature’s wonder, with blue sea in Zanzibar and other exotic destinations that would make every fun seeking tourist or business traveller to long for more.THE journey to Dar es Salaam was long; about five hours from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos to Nairobi, Kenya and another one and half hours by air in a turbo prop aircraft to Julius Nyerere International Airport. The trip was very smooth and many who had not visited the country before eagerly looked forward to exploring it.Tourists from different parts of the world, especially from Europe, the United States, and the Far East make up the over 80 per cent of people who visit for tourism.Many of those who travelled all the way from Lagos could not but marvel at a city well lit. Aerial view through the windows of the ATR 72 aircraft indicated such and throughout the four-day stay in the city, electricity never failed except for once which did not last for more than two minutes.Despite the tiredness occasioned by the long journey of the previous day, many looked forward to the tour of Zanzibar put together by Aviation and Allied Journal and excellently coordinated by the Executive Director of Aviation and Allied Company, Mrs. Aduke Atiba.As early as 7.30 a.m. (5.30 a.m. in Nigeria), a cab had been positioned to pick the delegates from Peacock Hotel, Kilimanjaro Hotel Kempinski, Move and Pick Hotel and other choice hotels that had been reserved for the over 200 delegates who attended the 17th Aviation and Allied Business Leadership Conference, which took place from August 28 to August 31, 2011.Over 50 delegates including this reporter took part in the tour to Zanzibar, a 15-minute journey by air.At the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, Zanzibar, we were introduced to our guide for the day, Al Hemis, who was truly a remarkable young man. He revealed the huge history of the town in a way that made it interesting to everybody.Zanzibar bears images of romantic dhows with curved white sails, veiled women of mystery, ancient ruins and exotic spices float before your eyes.It is known throughout the world as the jewel of the Indian Ocean and has a romantic, colourful history of seafarers and explorers, of riches and tragedy, and of the dark stain of slavery. Zanzibar has attracted Sumerians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Chinese, Malays, Africans, Arabs, Indians and Europeans.Zanzibar is therefore an archipelago of islands. The island is famous for its mix of exotic beaches, famous spice plantations, history (Stone Town being the capital) and diverse culture.What makes Zanzibar different to other tropical island destinations is the eclectic mix of sun, sea, sand and spice. But there is much more - vivid history, culture and a variety of excursions that makes this one of the most popular all-round beach destinations for people of all ages and interests.Apart from this, a whole range of endangered species can be found in the warm tropical waters around the archipelago - from bottlenose dolphins and green turtles to the once assumed extinct coelacanth!Indeed nowhere else in the world will you find such a unique combination of beautiful landscapes, history and culture; hospitable people, delicious cuisine, and ecological wonders.Generally, the people of Tanzania are very hospitable. Can you beat this? The Tanzanian Minister of Transport, Omari Nundu entertained his over 200 guests from Nigeria, Europe, United States and Africa.At a cultural dinner to bring to a close a very successful summit, the minister mounted the podium, took a microphone and sang along with a band. He danced and sang so well to the admiration of many.He sang in his native language and his love for his country was visible with the way he constantly pronounced Tanzania with so much pride. Unable to contain their joy, people joined him on stage to dance with this illustrious and industrious African.Nundu is not only highly educated, together with President Jakaya Kikwete, they have turned around the fortune of air transport in Tanzania.To absorb this atmosphere, one needs to spend a day or two walking through the narrow twisting streets of Zanzibar Stone Town , with 150 year old houses with crumbling stone walls, overhanging balconies and massive intricately carved wooden doors. Visit the former slave market, the old fort, the National Museum and the House of Wonders.The city consists of two distinct areas of Stone Town and the creek. In Stone Town , you catch a glimpse of ornate latticework on a balcony or admire the intricacy of carved doors in sun-warmed wood.A narrow staircase winds its way into a cool interior, children’s voices echo in a hidden courtyard, old men chat next to coloured, crumbling stone walls and tantalizing scents of spices wreathed doorways and dark corners.The ruins of Zanzibar convey something of mystery, intrigue and exoticism of the island’s past, and they are well worth a visit. 
 

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