How Ilhan Hussein is spending summer vacation in Zanzibar

Ilhan Hussein enjoys her vacation at a Zanzibar beach. PHOTO | Anganile Mwakyanjala

What you need to know:

  • With just two weeks off from work, Ilhan is cramming a lot into her Zanzibar vacation. She’ll explore the island’s rich history, tantalize her taste buds with Swahili flavors, and finally reunite with her Tanzanian family – a reunion she’s been eagerly anticipating 

As she walks along the beach, the ocean waves gently lap at her feet Ilhan Hussein is glad to be away from her home in London, this is the vacation she has been planning, and now she is in Zanzibar for the first time with her 4 years old daughter and brother, away from the hustle and bustle of London city and into the chilled vibes of the spicy island.

Though she only has a two-week break from work, Ilhan will have ample time to explore the ancient isle, and feast on the Swahili cuisine but also meet her family that resides in Tanzania, a family reunion she has longed for.

Ilhan describes London as a multicultural city, with diversity and people from different ethnicities, speaking different languages, and cuisines and culinary traditions from across the world.

That could also be the definition of Zanzibar, walking around StoneTown you would come across people of all races, Italian, Spanish, and even Chinese restaurants are abundant, Zanzibar has seen an upsurge of tourists flocking into the archipelago and Ilhan is one of them, she says travel to Zanzibar is relatively affordable if one plans, booking flights and making itinerary in advance can really save one a lot of money and that is what she did.

She said her main plan was to see Tanzania as a whole, visit the island of Zanzibar, and meet the people. She reached out to a locally run tour agency and designed an itinerary for her.

It’s been a week since she stepped foot on the island and all days have been active, and full of adventure, one would not expect that from the small island, but Zanzibar has a way of surprising its visitors.

The moment they landed in Zanzibar they were whisked away to Nakupenda Beach, the pristine oasis just off Stone Town, amazing beaches.

“I have never seen beaches as beautiful as the ones I have seen at Nakupenda” she joyfully said. At Nakupenda Beach, the view that welcomes you is tranquil, but their food is even more amazing. Ilhan and her family feasted on the seafood caught and prepared right before her eyes. Everything was breathtaking.

From there, they went to Prison Island, also referred to as Changuu Island, which was notoriously site in the 19th century for detaining rebelling Slaves, but now, thousands of tourists visit the island to learn of its horrific past but of significance.

Ilhan got to see the giant Aldabra tortoises, a gift from Seychelles to the island in the 19th century.

The next day, they roamed Mtende Beach, the soft white sand beach of Mafia Island. One of many beaches that continued to amaze Ilhan next was a visit to the Rock restaurant, the picturesque location, the restaurant is on top of a rock formation that can only be reached by boat when the tide is high, but on foot when the tide is low.

Ilhan sat on the swing there and felt like a kid again, something all adults long for amidst all the responsibilities of daily life.

The swing is located at the beach overlooking the rock restaurant and the ocean.

This spot is famous with tourists who take their time here to sit and admire the environment and let the breeze wash away all the worries in the world.

They ended their day with a sunset tour, they visited Kae Sunset Beach for entertainment before going back to Stone Town for shopping.

Stone Town is flocked with shops selling different items, from spices, ornament, and Maasai garments to Arabian perfume, the narrow streets are always filled with tourists trying to purchase a souvenir to remember their visit to Zanzibar.

The trip to Zanzibar was a memorable one for Ilhan but at the top of the list, she held dear swimming with the huge tortoise at Prison Island, she had never seen a tortoise before, so being in that proximity and feeding these humongous reptiles and touching them was surreal, she watched her daughter playing with the friendly animals, and she wished she could freeze that moment forever. “We would never have been able to experience that anywhere else, that was one in a million experience,” she said, “It’s one we will always remember, ” she added.

To Ilhan, going on vacation with her family was a dream come true, being in a place of peace and tranquillity and spending the whole time with her family was truly magical and bonded her even more with her child and brother, there could be no other place perfect for this other than Zanzibar.

“I will be able to look back at this moment and say I experienced that with my brother and my daughter,” she said.

She said that Zanzibar is one of the places where one forgets to immerse themselves in their phones and look up and enjoy the people and the environment.

She also tried to learn a few Kiswahili words, “I learned mambo, hakuna matata, and pole pole which means slow down, and that’s my daughter’s favourite one” she mentioned.

In this world where everything is moving fast, Ilhan urges one to take your time and slow down, not everything should be rushed, she advised. Ilhan and her family didn’t even have to worry about taking pictures, “the minutes tour.”

The local tour run by young Tanzanians had drones that photographed their special moments and all Ilhan and her family had to do was enjoy the moment.

In Europe life moves fast, for Ilhan, this trip was essential, she says sometimes, you need to pause all the life stresses, take yourself outside of that environment, and enjoy yourself.

She said with the cost of living in London spiking, it’s easy for one to immerse oneself in stress and overworking, when one decides to take themselves out of that area, one genuinely learns to appreciate life.

Ilhan had never gone on vacation before so that was the first one, “I left all my problems at the airport, so when I came here I said, I have no problems I have no stress I am just here to enjoy myself” she laughed, “honestly, it’s been the best trip so far” she added.

Ilhan said even when she gets old with grey hair, she will always look back at these moments and be glad she shared it with the people she loves.

“If you can go somewhere, go with family and friends, people that you would love to share experience with” she advised.

From Zanzibar, she went to Tanga in mainland Tanzania, where she met her family that lives there, that she had never met before and spent some quality time with them, she also met other extended family members, but she would also go out and explore Tanga, and see what Tanga has to offer.