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Island Life: Zanzibar

By Ben Cooper

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Ben recalls his trip to Zanzibar through the amazing people and stunning film photography.

Island Life: Zanzibar
Photography by Ben Cooper
About 25km off the coast of Tanzania, the idyllic Zanzibar archipelago nestles in the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean. A collection of islands, the larger two of Unguja and Pemba provide a base for those looking to explore the shallow depths of the surrounding atolls and the vibrant culture of the mainland. It was on Unguja that Colette and I decided to spend our honeymoon in February of this year, unaware that it may be the last we (or anyone) travel for a significant time.
Island Life: Zanzibar
Island Life: Zanzibar
It was a trip we had planned a little on the hoof. If you’ve got married you’ll be aware of the ‘wedmin’ required and when it came to itinerary building the thought of another spreadsheet nearly toppled us. We did our reading but in the end decided on 5 locations that looked like they would cover all corners, mixed up the budget with the bougie and left the rest to our own desires with feet on the ground. It was totally out of character (I bloody love a plan) but helped us find the pockets of island life that continue to inspire us when we look back.
Island Life: Zanzibar
Island Life: Zanzibar
The hustle of Foradhani Gardens at night was met by the tranquility of Chumbe Island’s coral park; the silence of Jozani Forest’s canopy contrasting with the echoing classrooms of Matemwe’s high school. For every multimillion dollar hotel complex on the beach front, there was a village living in incredibly hard circumstances, but it was the latter that held Zanzibar’s soul. An appetite for learning, discovery and humble hospitality brought to life by humanity, not sun-loungers and western food.
Island Life: Zanzibar
Island Life: Zanzibar
Island Life: Zanzibar

Hopefully this collection of photos give an idea of why Zanzibar should be on
your destination list but if not, this is what I wrote on the journey home:

 

‘I cannot begin to explain the stupidly awesome nature of this trip. I had certain expectations from what I had read but maybe it just isn’t that well documented yet. Or maybe we veered far and close enough to the beaten track that we created the ideal balance. We had 15 nights in 5 locations, saw 7 towns and villages, swam 5 different reefs and experienced all corners of this incredible
island.

We ate new food, tried new things and made new friends; explored the ocean, the jungle and the land. I could not recommend going enough, whilst it has all the charm you’d hope of a simple tropical paradise.’

Island Life: Zanzibar
Island Life: Zanzibar
Island Life: Zanzibar
We went for the colour; for the ocean, the vibrant towns, luscious forests and bright white sand. When we return, it will be for the people.
SALKAN®