Top 5 Aqua Activities in Zanzibar

4 Nov

Famous for crystal clear, turquoise waters and diverse sea life, there are endless water-based activities in Zanzibar to choose from. To aid you in considering what to do on your first, or next trip to this island paradise, we’ve put together our top five picks.

Zanzibar Activities
1. Swimming with the Dolphins

Located on the point of Zanzibar, the Kizimkazi fishing village is home to several schools of Humpback and Bottle-nosed dolphins. The shallow coastal waters around Kizimkazi are a favourite hangout for dolphins due to warm water and a constantly reliable food supply. Get up-close-and-personal with these gorgeous creatures following a short boat trip from the village offered by one of many tour operators on the island.

Swim With Dolphins Zanzibar
2. Mnemba Island Snorkelling

Mnemba Island, situated 3km north-east of Zanzibar, is surrounded by a vast, well-preserved coral reef. A listed Marnie Conservation area, it is by far the finest and most popular snorkelling spot in Zanzibar. Be on the lookout for Surgeon Fish, Striped Snapper, green Turtles, whale sharks, blue tang, moorish idols, and clownfish.

Mnemba Zanzibar
3. Sunset Dhow Cruise

Watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean is one of the most memorable moments you’ll take from your trip to Zanzibar. And what better way to do so than aboard a traditional Dhow. With the wind in your sail and a glass of wine in-hand, you won’t be left wanting!

Zanzibar Sunset Cruise
4. Scuba Diving

The waters surrounding Zanzibar boast an exciting variety of marine life, making scuba diving in this tropical paradise an absolute must. Catered to licensed divers and novices alike – there is something for everyone! Some of the fascinating creatures to be spotted under the waves are sting rays, eels, dolphins, sea turtles, clown fish, and much more!

Zanzibar Snorkelling
5. Kite Surfing on Paje Beach

With shallow warm waters, steady winds, and a sandy bottom, Paje Beach is one of the most ideal places to kitesurf in Zanzibar. If you are an intermediate or experience rider, then this is the perfect place to expand on your technique. However, if you’re new to the sport, not to worry – there are several kite schools around to show you the ropes!

Kitesurfing Zanzibar
To find out more about ocean activities in Zanzibar, or to book one of the incredible experiences above, simply contact the team at Essque Zalu Zanzibar directly on reservations@essquehotels.com or +255 778 683 960.

Image Credits: Flickr/richard-mortel, zanzibar-insider-buzz, Flickr/dmitri_66, Flickr/ mitchpa1984, Flickr/Rob, Flickr/konstantin-zamkov

Zanzibar Language Guide

27 Oct

One of the most daunting aspects of travelling to a foreign place, such as Zanzibar, is the prospect of confronting an unfamiliar language, and the potential for miscommunication, or lack of communication altogether. We’re here to set your mind at ease, and prepare you for an incredible trip to this island gem, by providing you with a handy language guide.

Zanzibar Language Guide

The most widely spoken language in Zanzibar is Swahili (Kiswahili locally), a Bantu language that is extensively spoken along the east African coast. This language is the common tongue of the region, prevalent in Kenya and Tanzania, and spoken as a second or third language is countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique and Congo.

While the two official languages of Zanzibar are Swahili and English, not many locals are fluent in English, and rather use it as a means of casual communication. As such, Swahili is considered to be the dominant language on the island, and is, in fact, the language of instruction at primary schools. However, the roles are reversed in secondary school, where English becomes the language of instruction, as well as in institutions of higher learning, in urban areas, and at tourist hot spots.

Seen as the unifying language of the country, Swahili provides some common ground between approximately 158 ethnic groups. To aid you in your travels throughout Zanzibar, and to make your experience of the island that much more enjoyable, we’ve put together some common greetings and phrases.

Zanzibar Languages

Remember, the pronunciation of words in Swahili is as they are written, and the stress is on the second last last syllable. For example, “kijiko” is pronounced keeJEEko, and “karibu” is pronouced kaREEboo.

How are you? Jambo?
I am fine Sijambo
Please Tafadhali
Thank you Asante
Thank you very much Asante sana
OK Sawa
Yes Ndio
No Hapana
What is your name? Jina lako nani?
My name is… Jina langu ni…
Where is the bank? Benki iko wapi?
Taxi Teksi
How much? Pesa ngapi?
Excuse me Samahani
Don’t worry Usiogope
Menu Menyu
Bill Bili
Beer Bia
Coffee Kahawa
Tea Chai
I would like to order… Ningependa kuagiza…
I don’t understand Sielewi

Language Zanzibar

To find out more about the languages in Zanzibar, or to book your trip to this beautiful island, get in touch with Essque Zalu Zanzibar today. Simply email reservations@essquehotels.com or call +255 778 683 960 and speak to a member of our friendly reservations team.

Image Credits: Flickr/Jorge Cancela, Flickr/Andrew Moore, Flickr/Bradclin Photography

Nightlife in Stone Town

21 Oct

Like any holiday destination, Zanzibar is a bundle of fun when it comes to nightlife. Although it occupies a small portion of the island, there are a variety of things to do in Stone Town when the sun goes down.

things to do in Stone Town
Sunset and sundowners go hand in hand when it comes to holidays, and this is no exception in Stone Town.  Sipping on a cocktail, or mocktail, as the sun slips into the ocean is one of the most popular Zanzibar activities, any day of the week.

Many of the hotels in Zanzibar offer Happy Hour in the early evening, to fuel you as you set off to explore the different bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

Restaurants in Stone Town

To start the ball rolling, you can grab a bite to eat at the night-time food market in Stone Town, which dishes up grilled fish, meat and vegetables along with pesto balls, naan bread and fiery samosas. Alternatively, there are a number of fine Zanzibar restaurants about town that will do the job just as well in a more formal fashion. The Market Kitchen at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, is one such place, offering up a vast range of delectable cosmopolitan fare, in a stylish setting.

Zanzibar Restaurants
Bars in Stone Town

The Terrace Bar at the Africa House Hotel is an institution among tourists to the islands, and people have been meeting there for drinks since the Queen was in charge of Zanzibar.  Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try a hubbly bubbly, or shisha pipe, while you are there.

Mercury’s, named after Stone Town’s favourite son, Freddie Mercury, celebrates happy ‘hour’ from 5pm to 8pm every evening and is another hotspot for visitors to the island.

Essque Zalu Zanzibar features not one, but too vibrant bars: The Jetty and the Baobab Bar. Set against a backdrop of the Indian Ocean, The Jetty is one of the hotel’s most striking features, jutting dramatically out from the shoreline. Taste modern Arabic cuisine and sample the talents of the expert mixologist. The Baobab Bar is ideal for day-end sundowners and boasts delicious cocktails perfect for pairing with the setting sun.

Zanzibar Activities
Nightclubs in Stone Town

The Garage Club is your best option for unleashing your dancing talent on the unsuspecting nightlife of Stone Town, to an eclectic mix of hip-hop, house, reggae, and African and European pop, played at full volume until the wee hours.  With air-conditioning, reasonable entry fees and trendy black and white décor, the Garage Club sets the scene for many a memorable night on the town in Zanzibar.

To find out more about activities in Stone Town, or to book your trip to Zanzibar, simply contact Essque Zalu Zanzibar on +255 778 683 960 or reservations@essquehotels.com.

Interview with Chef Jussi Husa

14 Oct

Dining at Essque Zalu Zanzibar is an exceptional experience, with three distinctive restaurants to choose from. Each of these are led by renowned Executive Chef Jussi Husa.

Jussi Husa

Born and raised in Orebro, Sweden, Jussi moved to Zanzibar over 19 years ago, and joined the culinary team at Essque in 2011. He discovered his passion for food when he was just 14 years old, and has spent almost half a decade honing his skills and developing his reputation.

To provide some insight into the man behind the magic, we took a few minutes to sit down with him, delving into his tastes, past experiences, culinary ethos, and more.

Q: How long have you been cooking professionally?  
A: For 40 years. I started as a commis while still in school.

Q: Why did you decide to become a chef?
A: After I completed an attachment in a restaurant kitchen, I just knew that this was what I wanted to do.

Q: Where did you train to cook?
A: The basics in a restaurant school in my home town Orebro, then through practise in all places of work.

Zanzibar Restaurants
Q: How would you describe your style of cooking?
A: Traditionally Swedish, with a modern/Mediterranean touch.

Q: Do you have a favourite ingredient?
A: Not really, favourites come and go. There is always something new to experiment with.

Q: If you were to dine at Essque as a guest, what would you order and why?
A: I’d probably order Chef’s suggestion, or maybe something local.

Q: What you do on your days off?
A: I mostly stay at home, or go to the beach. I also enjoy hosting lunches at my house for friends and neighbours.

Q: What is your favourite food to eat?
A: Currently, Swedish sausages I brought with me from my home country, and tapas/mezze kind of food. Other times I enjoy sandwiches and pastas of all kinds. In Sweden, I always like the traditional Swedish cuisine.

Restaurants in Zanzibar
Q: What is your most interesting memory from your time working in restaurants?
A: There are a lot I suppose, but my first “kitchen” in Zanzibar had no electricity, no running water and no gas – we cooked on fire wood and kerosene stoves.

Q: Is there another chef that you most admire? Who and why?
A: There are many, I admire all chefs who are so committed to their work, and who make a wide range of fantastic new dishes. Anton Husa, my nephew, is one of them. He recently won the Best Young Chef competition in Sweden and will represent Sweden in the world finals this year.

Q: Is there a secret to running a successful restaurant?
A: Lot of hard work

Q: Any advice you would give to someone wanting to become a chef?  
A: Be committed, and enjoy what you do.

Essque Zalu Zanzibar Restaurant
To find out more about Chef Jussi Husa, or to book your stay at Essque Zalu Zanzibar, simply visit our website, email reservations@essquehotels.com or phone +255 778 683 960, today.

Sauti Za Busara Festival 2015

16 Feb

Music communicates with all of us, regardless of age, gender, language, religion or politics. It teaches us to respect our differences and value diversity.’ – Yusuf Mahmoud, director of the Sauti Za Busara festival.

Image by: sci-culturist
One of several festivals in Zanzibar, Sauti za Busara, aka the Zanzibar Music Festival, unites music lovers from around the world in a three-day celebration of peace and cooperation.  The name means ‘sounds of wisdom’ and Sauti Za Busara, proudly lays claim to its reputation as the friendliest festival on the planet.

The event has a large following, and is the best attended of all Zanzibar festivals, with ticket sales increasing by 500% since the inaugural event in 2004.  This is a huge boost to Zanzibar tourism, with Zanzibar accommodation establishments enjoying record figures during this time every year.

Some of the highlights of the 2015 event include a ‘Best of the Best’ feature with all the audience favourites from past events, and an African Music Film festival, featuring music videos, documentaries and footage from live concerts. The festival market place will have a range of goods on sale from food, to fashion and CD’s to curios.

Image by: sci-culturist

Arts professionals from all over Africa, and beyond, will have the opportunity to compare notes at daily networking workshops during the event, and a variety of side-line activities will also be on the go, such as traditional drumming and dancing, dhow races, fashion shows, open-mic sessions, taarab orchestra shows and lots of after-parties.

There are over 200 performers booked for this year’s event, which takes place from 12 to 15 February in Stone Town, Zanzibar.  Although the focus is firmly on Tanzanian talent, there are acts from all over Africa including Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar.

Tanzanian performers are eligible to participate in the ‘Songs for Peace’ competition taking place on the Thursday and Sunday during the festival and stand a chance of winning fantastic cash prizes. To be eligible for this fixture, the band must compose and perform a song, including Swahili lyrics, around the theme ‘Peace and Unity’.

Image by: Jordan Sitkin
You can view a list of the acts and book tickets on the official website, or stay connected via Facebook and twitter for all the latest news on what to do in Zanzibar during the festival.

Have you visited this event before?

Valentine’s Special at Essque Zalu Zanzibar

9 Feb

Essque Zalu Zanzibar are pulling out all the stops for the ‘Month of Love’ with a “Soul to Soul Valentine’s Weekend” from the 13th till the 15th of February 2015.

Zanzibar Hotel

You and your loved one will be treated to a two-night stay at this luxury Zanzibar hotel, complete with a romantic line-up of gourmet meals and exciting activities, for just US $ 1100 per couple, per room.

Friday 13, 2015

The weekend-of-love kicks off with a Market Kitchen Dinner, where you will feast upon delectable cuisine, whilst being serenaded by a live band. Next up, you and your significant other can sit back, relax, and watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show – under the stars.

Saturday 14, 2015

On Valentine’s Day, guests will start the day off on a luxurious note – spoiled with a lavish champagne breakfast in bed. The mood of relaxation continues with a Velvet Seduction couples treatment at the spa during the day, followed by cocktails on the Jetty at sunset.

Zanzibar Sunset

The day’s highlight is the scrumptious “7 Sins Dinner” accompanied by the soulful tunes of Mad Ice – an incredible East-African Afro-Soul artist.

Experiencing the “Soul to Soul Valentine’s Weekend” at Essque Zalu Zanzibar will provide you and your loved one with an unforgettable romantic getaway. If you wish to stay on following the weekend, additional nights will be charged at US$ 375 on a half-board basis.

To secure your place at this luxury, Zanzibar hotel over Valentine’s Day, contact +255 778 683960, or simply email reservations@essquehotels.com.

 

Essque Zalu Zanzibar to Join Per AQUUM Portfolio in 2015

5 Feb

On December 19, 2014, Minor Hotel Group (MHG) – Thailand-based hotel owner, operator and investor – announced the addition of a resort in Zanzibar: our very own Essque Zalu Zanzibar. Having recently taken over the management contract, the property will join the luxury boutique hotel brand Per AQUUM portfolio by the end of 2015.                                                                                                                               Zanzibar Hotel
At present, Essque Zalu Zanzibar is owned by Maisha Ltd, under majority shareholding of Musstir, one of Oman’s leading property development and investment firms. The partnership represents a true meeting of great minds, as the boutique hotel team shares Per AQUUM’s passion for defying expectations and delivering luxury of an exclusive nature.

Dillip Rajakarier, Chief Executive Officer of Minor Hotel Group, commented:

“We have stated that our goal is to add at least five properties to Per AQUUM’s portfolio within the next five years, mirroring Minor Hotel Group’s current footprint, so this new management contract demonstrates that we are delivering on our promise to offer even more choice to our loyal guests and valued trade partners.”

Providing historical context, in July 2013, MHG entered into a joint venture strategic partnership with Universal Enterprises PTY LTD for luxury brand Per AQUUM. Adding these five additional properties is part of MHG and Universal’s aim to develop and invest in the brand, extending their footprint across Asia, the Indian Ocean, Africa and the Middle East.

Zanzibar Luxury Accommodation
Per AQUUM’s portfolio currently includes three award-winning properties – Huvafen Fushi and NIYAMA in the Maldives, and Desert Palm in Dubai. The brand is renowned for its unique hotels, and modern, environmentally responsible designs.

Speaking about Essque, Cyril Piaia, Chief Executive Officer of Musstir, said:

“Essque Zalu Zanzibar has already established a reputation worldwide as one of the leading luxury boutique hotels in the region so we are extremely selective about our partners. Per AQUUM is a natural fit as we share the same values and the team has a proven track record of successfully managing luxury boutique hotels.

He finished off by saying: “we are looking forward to the end of next year when Essque Zalu Zanzibar will be added to Per AQUUM’s portfolio, especially given the calibre of the other properties in the Maldives and the UAE.”