Sunday, 28 June 2009

HOTEL MNARANI ZANZIBAR

Unique East African solace

There are various ways to describe a place.
Different people see places, differently.

So my views about Hotel Mnarani in the Nungwi area of Zanzibar might not match yours, dear reader.

Having such an honest perspective in mind, could be the reason why you find differing views on the hotel’s website. By allowing contrasting feedback, Mnarani’s management have sought objectivity; a compliment, in my opinion. Some clients describe Mnarani as being too quiet and laid back for younger people. Some see it as paradise. Some do not like the food.

Some love the food.

That is honesty.
Mnarani is about heights and peaks and fresh air.
The hotel’s name stems from Mnara which in Kiswahili means tower, steeple, minaret, lighthouse; so standing from certain elevated parts of the premise you see the 70 feet (21.3 meters) Lighthouse built by Chance & Brothers in 1888. Since 1926 the Lighthouse has been flashing automatically every five seconds to guide ships entering from all over the world.

Mnarani is 37 miles (60 kilometres approximately) from Zanzibar, subsequently it is situated amongst polite, unassuming villagers; the hotel’s info warns that the local population is Muslim: “Tourism is a new phenomenon in the life of these people.”
Females are warned not to wonder around in bikinis; respect is the chief vibe here, therefore.

Village cows crossing road, majestically, near hotel.

I only have gracious words to say about very humble local villagers and staff. Take Kidawa. She tells me this tavern is a great sojourn for newly weds, honeymooners, romantics. To prove the point she goes out fetches clusters of mixed flowers and for almost 30 minutes decorates my bed.

“Doesn’t this tire, you?” I wonder.
“Not at all. It is God’s pleasure,” she says sweeping, working and clearing the mess away, easily, afterwards.

Another interesting conversation is with Sadat Mbarak who has been here for a couple of years.

A perfect gentleman, Mbarak says of visitors: “People who come here are quiet. They go to bed at 9 p.m.”
Surely, that might be early; especially if you are a party animal.
Animals?
“There are loads of green snakes around,” Nassoro Ali, the equally hardworking hotel director explains to me lightly (while my insides tremble, slightly), “But I always tell the workers not to kill them. We regard them as harmless.”

Nature is abundant. Green colour, vegetation and trees (Coconuts, Mangoes, Shokishoki (Rambutan fruit) flowers: Frangi Pani (below), Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Roses.

With so much green and nature you would expect mosquitoes to roam freely and menacingly but the hotel has managed to reduce them by getting rid of lurking ponds or disinfecting them. So I find my short stay at Mnarani pleasant; there is no need to use my allocated mosquito net.

For tourists, activities are abundant: Finish sauna, Snorkelling trips, Boat trips, Kayaking (single $10; double 30), Scuba diving, Wind surfing, beauty : Henna for $5;

And massage (divided into $10 for half hour; $30 an hour, respectively).

Mnarani has a small library in the internet room. It is the first time I have been in an East African hotel and encountered novels and books; this sends a good message.Reading should be part of holidays and pleasure, not just work, study or college...

Both staff and director have great enthusiasm for nature.

Makame, Mohammed and Juma -all staff-members don matching T-shirts with "Dont be a Tourist-be a local in Zanzibar-" labels on them.

I am encouraged to swim (both sea and swimming pool are perfectly clean) and advised when best to do it (the ocean tides can be very strong); I am also coaxed to go at interesting locations of the hotel. Even when we sit down (on that late May) night watching the televisedBarcelona versus Manchester United Champions League Final, the seaside nearby keeps applauding. One last word about Mnarani Hotel.
According to Nassoro it all began in 1996 and is still expanding. While i was here, lots of construction was going on...

Need more details?
Visit http://www.lighthousezanzibar.com/.

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