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.”

Taking Advantage of Cheap Off-Season Travel Rates to Zanzibar

23 Jan

Think Zanzibar and images of spice markets, palm-fringed beaches, and white-sailed dhows on a turquoise sea dreamily come to mind – and the reality does not disappoint.

Offering a vibrant mix of Middle Eastern and African culture, exotic scents, and exquisite cuisine, the Zanzibar Archipelago is a breath-taking spot to escape from the world, and this month, with the least amount of rainfall, amazing off-season travels deals and affordable accommodation, is the perfect time to visit.

Zanzibar Beaches

Located in the Indian Ocean, 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, gin-clear, turquoise-blue waters cover a myriad marine life; shallow, ivory sandbars are perfect for wading in the warm waters; and a network of small, nearly deserted islands offer secluded retreats.

January is a fantastic time to visit these idyllic islands as the crazy holiday rush is over so you’ll have the beaches to yourself. Likewise, the weather is balmy and beautiful, and the water clear and warm. It’s also a good time to find some great off-season specials on flights and accommodation, so be sure to check in with us for the latest deals.

Diving in Zanzibar

The long, footprint-free stretches of palm-lined sands promise a luxurious beach holiday, of long sunny days on a hammock with a book, while the surrounding waters offer some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Luxurious accommodation can be found all over the island, ranging from romantic guesthouses overlooking beautiful bays to five-star resorts and hotels with private beaches and at this time of the year, you are bound to find great deals and special rates on accommodation.

Experience scintillating spice tours, taste exotic local dishes, and explore the network of alleyways that wind past Arabic-style houses with brass-studded wooden doors in the World Heritage Site of Stone Town. Visit the colourful back-street markets of Zanzibar City’s old quarter and watch elderly men playing bao, while women pause to chat in their in their flowing bui-bui. Absorb the laid-back way of life on this island paradise that moves to the rhythm of the tides and the winds of the monsoon.

Travel to Zanzibar

Offering an enchanting blend of luxurious beach life and age-old culture, travelling to Zanzibar is a sensory experience par excellence and one not to be missed!

Celebrate Zanzibar Revolution Day

12 Jan

Think Zanzibar and long white beaches flanked by swaying green palms and azure waters gently lapping the shore come to mind – images of pure tranquillity. However, this tiny island nation has had its fair share of tumultuous history, including the infamous Zanzibar Revolution Day, which saw a revolutionary uprising of her people.giampiero Ridella
Celebrated every 12th of January, Zanzibar Revolution Day is held to commemorate the day the people of Zanzibar overthrew their Sultanate administration. In 1963, Zanzibar Island was granted independence from Britain. However in July of the same year, the Sultanate government held parliamentary elections which resulted in the Arab minority retaining power and making Zanzibar an overseas territory of Oman, despite winning 54% of the votes.

This political dupery provoked and angered the African majority of the island and to solve the problem, the Afro Shirazi Party (ASP) joined forces with the Umma Party to fight back. On 12th January 1964, the ASP, led by John Okello, mobilised around 600 revolutionaries to Zanzibar town and overthrew the Sultanate government on a day that will be forever remembered as Zanzibar’s Revolutionary Day.

Zanzibarians celebrate this all-important day on their calendar with splendor and vigor. Gun salutes and ship horns fill the air from the Forodhani Waterfront and the Maisara Grounds, with celebrations continuing well into the night and joining the locals in these festivities is an experience not to be missed!      Giuseppe Moscato
Zanzibar’s rich history incorporates a myriad of cultures, which transport you back in time, ranging from ancient Persia and Oman’s caliphs and sultans, to the heavily laden scents of India. Uniquely East African flavours assault the senses, from the network of alleyways that wind past Arabic-style houses with brass-studded wooden doors and the tall, traditionally garbed Maasai striding across the beaches to the colourful back-street markets of Zanzibar City’s old quarter filled with Swahili and Indian traders in long salwar kameezes and embroidered skullcaps.

Located in the Indian Ocean, 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania and comprising two large islands fringed by many more, the Zanzibar Archipelago vies with the Serengeti as Tanzania’s most precious natural asset, able to mesmerise the most jaded traveller into pensive contemplation. For an ultra-luxurious, unforgettable stay in Zanzibar, visit Essque Zalu Zanzibar on the northeast coast of the island.

Mango Adds Spice

9 Jan

Zanzibar is one of the world’s most popular destinations and most expensive places to fly to.  Therefore, it is no surprise that travellers were dancing in the aisles when Mango, the champion of cheap airfares, announced it would be offering flights to this tropical paradise.  Mango flights to Zanzibar commenced in March 2013 and take place from Johannesburg to Zanzibar once a week.
Fly Mango Zanzibar
The overwhelming beauty of the ‘Spice Island’ is one of its biggest attractions.  It is a picture perfect destination with snowy beaches, swaying palms and emerald hued vegetation painting a stereotypical tropical island scene.  Divers flock here to gawk in amazement at the abundance and variety of the marine life and onshore you will be serenaded by a variety of birds chattering amongst the branches and fruit overhead.
Zanzibar Accommodation
Some of the most rewarding dive sites are at Unguja and Pemba where everyone from the novice to the Dive Master is welcome to participate.  Launching into the clear, warm ocean off the coast of Zanzibar from a boat is a thrilling experience and there are an abundance of steep wall dives, drift dives and undisturbed coral formations for deep-water divers to enjoy in the company of cuttlefish, sea- urchins, octopus, sea cucumbers and kaleidoscopic shoals of fish.
Fly to Zanzibar
Dolphin safaris are another popular marine activity as are all kinds of boating and water sports. Island style activities in Zanzibar abound with volley ball, horse riding, hiking, windsurfing, kite surfing, petanque and skittle being the most popular while most of the all inclusive resorts offer daily entertainment programmes and organised activities.  There are many fine accommodation establishments in Zanzibar and the Nungwi Peninsular is the most popular tourist area for luxury hotels.  Those interested in deep sea fishing will not be disappointed with many species of fish to target all year around making sure that every angler will leave satisfied.

FastJet Introduces Flights To Zanzibar

18 Dec

Pan-African budget airline, FastJet have commenced operations between Johannesburg and Zanzibar with three flights a week, making a trip to the Tanzanian spice island even more accessible for South African travellers.

FastJet Flights
FastJet flies from Johannesburg to Zanzibar via Dar es Salaam every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with flights departing OR Tambo International Airport at 23:20. Guests will be met by a Coastal Aviation representative at Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport, where they will be transferred to their short flight to Zanzibar. Return flights operate on the same days, leaving Zanzibar at 17:15 for Dar es Salaam and on to Johannesburg, landing at 22:30.

Tickets for the flights, offered in partnership with Tanzanian local carrier Coastal Aviation, will start from R2, 170, inclusive of all government and airport taxes. South African passport holders do not need a visa to visit Tanzania and Zanzibar if they intend staying for 90 days or less, however, a current yellow fever vaccination certificate is required.

Zanzibar Accommodation
Following in the footsteps of their European counterparts, EasyJet, FastJet is a low cost airline that serves Africa, with plans to create Africa’s first pan-continental low cost airline. Low-cost is quite simply the avoidance of costly frills, and FastJet aims to give customers a low airfare without extras. Passengers are offered the flexibility of only paying for additional services, such as refreshments and check-in luggage, if wanted. While the cost of flights may be far less than other carriers, the low cost airline employs rigorous safety, quality and security standards, and offers passengers the promise of 90% of all flights arriving on time.

Established in 2012, FastJet has flown over 800,000 passengers and using the Airbus A319 – 100, FastJet are also looking at expanding their destinations to include the Indian Ocean resort of Mombasa, as well as Entebbe and Kigali.

Zanzibar Flights
Flights between Johannesburg and Zanzibar can be booked via FastJet’s website, various travel agents, or through its South African call centre on +27 (0)11 289 8090.  Accommodation in Zanzibar is varied and ranges from luxurious to cost-effective, based on your budget.

Have you tried this new low cost airline yet?

Festive Season Interview with Essque’s Culinary Director

11 Dec

In anticipation of the festive season, we sat down with Essque Hotel’s Culinary Director – Jussi Husa- to find out the hotel’s food-related plans over the Christmas period. He fills us in on a variety of hints and tips regarding putting together the perfect Christmas feast.

Zanzibar Christmas

Jussi Husa was born in Sweden, and honed his passion for food whilst studying at a hotel & restaurant school, and working as a commis chef in a small restaurant in Sweden. Combining his training in classic French cuisine with traditional Swedish home cooking, he has previously worked in restaurants in South East Asia, Europe, Australia, and eventually – Africa. He first came to Zanzibar in 1984 where he discovered an undeveloped island with the great potential for tourism. 12 years later he and his family moved to the paradise island.

Jussi has proved to possess the ambition and the knowhow to make the restaurants at Essque Zalu Zanzibar some of the best in East Africa, and to put Zanzibar firmly on the culinary world map.

Can you tell me a little bit about the Christmas menu at Essque this year?

We will do Swahili Seafood BBQ on the Jetty on 24th and a Traditional Christmas Dinner on 25th in 1506 Restaurant.

What Christmas traditions do you personally follow at home?

A mix of my childhood traditions from Sweden and my wife’s Italian traditions. But as I spend most of my time at work during Christmas, we don’t do much over Christmas at home.

Christmas in Zanzibar

Christmas is a special time of year. What would you say is your favourite festive memory?

A group of about 100 Masaii conducted midnight mass on the beach in Kiwengwa, with the full moon as the only light source.

What is on your Christmas wish list this year?

A bottle of good whisky, peace on earth and an Ebola free Africa.

Christmas can also be a very stressful time of year for those in the kitchen. Why do you think some people panic when it comes to cooking the traditional Christmas lunch or dinner?

Many people underestimate the time needed for preparation, and realize too late that they should have started earlier.

How hard is it really to cook a turkey?

Not hard at all, it’s all about preparation and timing.

What is your personal secret to cooking the perfect traditional Christmas Ham?

Cook it slowly, and glaze it with a sweet mustard crème as we do in Sweden.

African Christmas

What is your favourite Christmas pudding and will you be making it this year?

Sticky date and toffee pudding with butter scotch crème, and yes.

What would be your three best tips for making that traditional Christmas lunch or dinner?

Plan and do your shopping well ahead. Prepare in advance whatever can be done beforehand. Add love and care to your cooking.

What do you put in your stuffing?

As we are in the tropics, I use dried fruits like pineapple and papaya, and coconut and cashew nuts.

Are there any big plans for the restaurants at Essque next year?

To change the menu concept of our Jetty Restaurant.

What do you think will be 2 major food trends in South Africa for 2015?

Smoked food, and fermented food

 

Hidden Island Gems of the Indian Ocean

4 Dec

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently bought a section of the Hawaii Island of Kauai for a cool $100m, because it is his favourite holiday spot.

Zanzibar Accommodation
Fortunately he set his sights far from the beauty of the Indian Ocean, which has incredible hidden island gems that remain quite untouched and unexplored by the average tourist.  Their priceless beauty, warm seas and white-sand-tranquillity certainly doesn’t come with a ‘for sale’ sign.

The Zanzibar Archipelago begins just over 24 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania and is filled with luxurious hotels and tourist hotspots.  The main, and largest island, is actually called Unguja, but is most commonly referred to as Zanzibar.  Next in size is the island of Pemba, while the rest of the archipelago is made up of a myriad of smaller islands.  Over the past 20 years this secluded destination has become slightly less of a secret as word has spread of this cheap and wonderfully idyllic holiday spot.  The hidden gems of Zanzibar are actually the little islands that make up the rest of the archipelago.  Exploring these, both on land and under water, will make you feel like the rest of the world doesn’t even exist.

Travelling to Seychelles
Seychelles Island can only be described as postcard perfect.  It lies approximately 2000km off the Tanzanian coastline, literally in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  It consists of 115 islands, yet has the smallest population of any African state.  The beaches are a crisp white, and the ocean is warm and completely unspoiled.  This makes it a top diving destination, particularly around the Aldabra atoll, the largest coral atoll in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The lagoons are usually dotted with boats as sailing these turquoise waters has been described as incomparable to anywhere else in the world.

Republic of the Maldives is where you find private island utopia.  It inhabits two rows of 1190 islands forming a ring of 26 atolls spanning 90 000kms.  It is almost like another world in the midst of a bright blue, warm Indian Ocean.  Naturally, the diving here is spectacular, with countless natural sea-creatures teeming around the coral reefs.  There are also plenty of opportunities to follow any dreams of being an intrepid explorer, as only 90 of the islands are inhabited and used as tourist resorts, the rest are as natural as if the earth was formed yesterday.

Travel to Zanzibar
If you feel the need to distance yourself from the city crowds and tourism hotspots, then find a place where the Indian Ocean is hiding paradise island gems that you don’t need to own to love.

Zanzibar Season – Deciding What to Pack

20 Nov

We all love a luxurious holiday, especially when it is to one of the world’s most popular and romantic islands. You have to admit though, that there is nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to discover that the weather isn’t what you expected and you have not packed the right clothing. Well you don’t have to worry any longer as we have everything you need to know about Zanzibar’s climate right here.Chic Escapes

March, April and May are usually the heaviest rainfall months in Zanzibar so guests are advised to pack umbrellas and rain coats. However, if the rainy conditions are too much for you then you can always treat yourself to a massage at the tranquil Essque Spa instead of venturing outdoors to enjoy the vast amount of things to do in Zanzibar. Despite this, the temperature is quite humid in the afternoons so remember to wear your bikini or a light summer dress under your rain coat. Men, remember to pack short pants, golf shirts and swimming trunks.BBX Rafting

June, July, August, September, and October present varied temperatures, although it is usually sunny, fine and clear. These months are regarded as the best time of the year to visit Zanzibar and they provide the perfect conditions for diving or snorkelling in Zanzibar and its outlying islands. Remember to pack light clothing for these warm conditions, as well as a few items that will keep you warm if you are faced with a cold front. This is a perfect time to wind down with cocktails on the Jetty, watch the sun set, and indulge in modern Arabic cuisine. If the ocean isn’t for you then feel free to enjoy a drink at the stylish 1506 Bar & Terrace.African Game Trek Safaris

Rain can be expected again in November and December before it dries up in January and February. Despite the weather patterns, there are a few necessities that must be remembered when visiting Zanzibar. Some of these include sunglasses, mosquito repellent, high-factor suntan lotion, beach wear, long and short sleeved tops, long and short pants, open shoes, comfortable shoes for hiking purposes, a camera, and an enthusiastic attitude.