I take off my slippers, feel gently the white sand beneath my feet
Is Pwani Mchangani a beach? Seems more like where heaven and earth meet.
A thousand shades of blue shimmer in my eyes
When other waters I described as magical blue, it feels like I lied.
Men with sun-darkened faces and hats pedal by
“Hakuna Matata” is their mantra and the way they say hi!
My East Africa trip didn’t go as I had hoped
To go on safari in Kenya or Tanzania, I was too broke.
But the surprises began when I saw Mt Kilimanjaro from my flight
And on Pwani Mchangani, I met the famous Masai tribe.
They speak English, carry cell phones, even go by an Italian name
It wasn’t the culture I imagined, but it is real life all the same.
We all move and search for an easier means to live
And for these Masai folk, tourism on Zanzibar’s beaches gives.
At low tide, we wade into the waters so clear
Spotting sea urchins, sword fish and starfish so near.
By day, as kitesurfers catch the wind to surf the waves
I lie in the shade in a poetic daze.
Pwani Mchangani itself is like poetry, soulful and timeless
The longer you spend on it, the more sorrows you forget.
On other beaches of Zanzibar, five star resorts dot the shore
But Pwani Mchangani maybe like the days of yore,
When Zanzibar was on the route of the spice trade
Life wasn’t easy but its magic didn’t fade.
On long bicycle rides and runs
There’s a thought in my mind that constantly comes:
“When you’ve seen, touched and felt beauty so pure
For your wanderlust, there shall be no cure.”
Zanzibar: Travel Tips
Zanzibar’s most beautiful beach? On the east coast of Zanzibar, Pwani Mchangani is one of Zanzibar’s longest white sand beaches, and pretty much devoid of the tourist paraphernalia that lines the shore of most other beaches on the island. During low tide, the water recedes, revealing miles of soft, shimmering white sands, and up to the horizon, gorgeous shades of blue. I’ve never seen anything like it, not even in Seychelles, Mauritius or the Caribbean!
How to reach Pwani Mchangani: I flew in to Zanzibar on Ethiopian Airlines, from Addis Ababa via Djibouti and Kenya. Choose a seat on the right side for a spectacular view over Mount Kilimanjaro (see my photo above)! From Zanzibar airport, Pwani Mchangani is about a 1 hour drive and costs US$ 50 for a private taxi.
Visa for Zanzibar: Tanzania offers Indian passport holders visa on arrival for 90 days; US$ 50 for a single-entry visa. We easily got ours at Zanzibar airport; the immigration officer asked where we’ll be staying. (Read: How I Manage Visas on My Indian Passport as I Travel Around the Globe)
Currency & Conversion: The local currency in Zanzibar is the Tanzanian Shilling; the exchange rate is roughly 1 US$ = 2200 shillings, or 1 INR = 32 shillings. Most places accept US$, but it works out a bit cheaper if you convert money and pay in shillings.
Where to stay in Pwani Mchangani, Zanzibar: I loved staying at Moonshine Villa, a beautiful B&B run by a friendly Italian guy who has lived in Zanzibar for a long time. It is aesthetically built, offers bicycle rentals, an airy lounge area and is a 2 minute walk to the Pwani Mchangani beach. At INR 6,600 (US$ 100), it is way more affordable and homely than a fancy beach resort.
Food in Zanzibar: Considering Zanzibar was once called ‘spice island’, the food on the island was a bit disappointing. For starters, Italian food is more readily available than local Zanzibari cuisine – the best meals I had were pastas (including a vegan pesto pasta) at Moonshine Villa. The local food we tried – at Pwani Mchangani as well as in Stonetown – wasn’t as flavorful as I had expected.
Language and useful phrases in Zanzibar: The local language in Zanzibar is Swahili, but most people associated with tourism speak a bit of English. Locals tend to greet outsiders with Hakuna Matata (Swahili for no problem), but it’s more of a Lion King thing! Two good words to know are Asante (Swahili for thank you) and Poa (the more local word for hakuna matata). Swahili sure seems like a fun language to learn!
What’s the most beautiful beach you’ve set foot on?
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