Maldives, Mauritius, Bahamas… there are many islands that offer paradisiac beaches of white sand and blue oceans. When planning a trip to such places we assume we need a high budget. We bring you a low cost paradise holiday in Zanzibar, the most visited island of Tanzania. Here’s how you can do a roadtrip in Zanzibar for a week under 700€!
Arriving in Zanzibar
Zanzibar’s airport is very small and simple. One building contains arrivals and departures in a few square meters. For most passport holders the visa on arrival costs 50$ and it’s very simple. Just fill up a paper at the airport and pay. There are always taxis available but that’s not the best way to move in the island. That’s why we recommend renting a car.
Buying a SIM card
At the airport there’s a small shop that sells SIM cards. The cost of 10Gb is approximately 10€ for 10 days. It’s not very cheap but it is very useful in the island. Many hotels have slow wifi or are limited to certain mb per day. Mapsme works fine, but in some cases we had to check Google maps and having data saved us!
Renting a car on a budget
Having a car is very useful in an island like Zanzibar. The only public transport is the dalla dalla, a mini van that can carry more people/animals than you could imagine. It doesn’t have a fixed route or schedule, it just goes….
Renting a car allows you to discover the whole island and see the sunset from a different beach every day. It’s worth it!
We booked the car a few days before arriving. The rental company we used was Ola ola. The experience of renting a car in Zanzibar is very different from what you may be used to. The owner, Said, is well known in Stone town. He will arrange that someone brings the car to the airport for you and you can pay directly to that person (cash). When you give back the car you simply hand in the keys. There’s no deposit, insourance options, controls… but it works! All the cars are 4×4 so you can get into all roads and paths. We paid 23€ per day and it was worth every cent. So much, that we rent the car for 5 days at first, then stayed in Stone Town. And after a few days, we decided to rent a car again! We spent in total undeto 50€ of petrol.
Route and low cost accomodation around the island
A week in Zanzibar is enough to discover the whole island. We suggest spending 3 nights in North, 2 nights in the South and one night in Stone Town. From each hotel you can drive around to a different area every day.
In the north we stayed in Surfescape village, in Pwani Mchangani. Approx. price: 25€/night for two
In the South we stayed in Beach palm villa, in Bwejuu. Approx. price: 15€/night for two
In Stone Town we stayed in an Airbnb that unfortunately we can’t recommend because our experience was not good. There are many places to stay for under 25€ per night on booking.com
From Pwani Mchangani we visited:
Muyuni, the best place for a boat trip with snorkling. There are dozens of boats that take you on a trip to the island of Mneba with a stop to explore the sealife.
Nungwi, the best area for night life and one of our favourite sunsets of the island.
Mokotwoni, a village without tourists. We say the fish market and enjoyed the low tide seeing the boats laying on the sand. Good to visit if you want to see how life really looks like for the average person in Zanzibar
Pongwe, where there’s a remote beach and a special resort. The rock resort is a rock island that you can acces by foot on low tide, or by boat during high tide. A lovely but pricey restaurant as well.
From Bwejuu we visited:
Kae beach, the best sunset of this side of the island. This small peninsula has a remote very long beach, not so touristic. It’s the only place where you can see the sunset going down the ocean on the east side.
Pingwe, mostly known because of The rock restaurant. More knwon than the rock resort, this tiny restaurant stands on a rock a few meters from the sore line. A boat takes you in a few minutes any time you want.
Paje, the most lively area of the south of the island. A good place to go to the beach, go out for dinner and even party. There are many hotels and restaurants.
Jambiani, similar to Paje but a bit more relaxing. A long beach and plenty of choices for restaurants and accomodation.
Mzambarauni, we discovered the most remote beach. Taking the path that goes to the southernmost point of Zanzibar we arrived to an abandoned resort. The experience was amazing.
Cheap restaurants for demanding stomachs
When travelling low cost, we love cooking ourselves. However, in Zanzibar there aren’t any supermarkets as we know them in Europe. Besides that, we didn’t find many accomodations with access to a kitchen. Luckily, food was quite nice specially if you like fish. We tried everything and didn’t get sick, awesome! Here’s a list of the restaurants we enjoyed:
Cholo’s bar, in Nungwi. Beach bar and restaurant with all kinds of food for a very good price. Average price for two: 15€
Blue fish restaurant, in Pwani Mchangani. A good offer, very fresh. The owner even offers to bring you back to your hotel if you don’t have a car. We went there 3 times. Average price for two: 15€
The rock, in Pingwe. A famous restaurant that you can only access by boat. Average price for two: 60€
Pandu Ngozi, in front of The rock. A simple beach restaurant much more affordable than the Rock, with a beautiful view. We went there twice. Average price for two: 15€
Africana’s BBQ, in Paje. A local restaurant for food and drinks, where you can even see the local masai. We went there twice. Average price for two: 15€
Zafarani, in Stone Town. A fancy restaurant of local food with a modern touch. Very good quality for a very reasonable price. Both fish and meat were amazing. Average price for two: 30
The total budget for a week for two people.
Visa for two: 90€
Car rental: (23€x7) 161€
Accomodation: (average 25€x6) 150€
Restaurants: (average 25€x7) 175€
SIM card: 10€
Activities & trips: approx 50€
Total budget: 686€
Who said you can’t have a paradise holiday on a budget? Start planning your trip and leave us a comment to tell us everything about it!
The Garden Route is one of the most visited areas of South Africa. This scenic route goes along the cost and by the mountains creating a unique landscape. There’s many nice and safe towns along the way where you can spend a night or two, or just visit during the day. It can take around 5-10 days depending on how much time you have and how much you want to do around each place.
Rent a car at Port Elizabeth airport, or in Cape Town airport if you start the other way around. We used First car rental and it allowed us to return the car in a different city for an extra fee of just 60€.
A bit of hiking
There’s a few nice things to do in Port Elizabeth. You can hike in schoenmakerskop and enjoy a beautiful sunset close by on the dunes of Sardinia bay. Make sure to always carry your binoculars, because from here you can spot whales playing around between June and November. You can spot dolphins as well from the pier of Port Elizabeth’s main beach! It’s a nice town to spend one or two nights.
The next day you will drive towards Storms Rivier. In this village is the entrance to the Tsitsikama National Park. If you like hiking, this is a great place to spend the day. Don’t miss the hike to the waterfall along the otter trail, very beautiful. The entrance to this park is around 15€. We don’t recommend the kayak+lilo activity in Tsitsikama, it is very overpriced. You can spend one night in Storms Rivier
Enjoying the landscapes and getting closer to the Great white shark
Your next destination can be Plettenberg Bay or Knysna. Both are nice towns just around an hour away. We stayed in Plettenberg bay and saw dolphins on the beach, but this can happen everywhere if you’re lucky.
Before arriving to Knysna there is a small place called Knoetzie. This beach is very remote, only a few houses and small hotels around, in the shape of castles.
After one or two days you can continue to Wilderness or George. We actually stayed in a bit smaller town, Sedgefield, with three lakes. It’s not as touristic as the others but we chose it because there’s nice resorts around the lakes to do a lot of water and outdoors activities.
Head towards Mossel Bay, a good place to see the Great White Sharks. You can do a hike by the cliffs, starting from Pinnacle point. There are caves that have revealed human ocupation more than 170.000 years ago. You can go to The Shark Lab, a small aquarium in Mossel Bay, and swim with little sharks for just 10€. Two days in Mossel Bay will be enough.
Kite surfers paradise and the most Southern point of Africa
Continue your way towards Witsand. Here there’s a very unique and special landscape, where the river meets the ocean creating a lake and a sand peninsula. An absolute paradise for kite surfers.
Two hours further is Cape d’Agulhas. You can drive along the N2 road, but you can also go through the country side and visit De Hoop National Park on the way. We would only recommend to do this during whale season, as that’s the highlight of this park. In Cape d’Agulhas you will find the most Southern point of Africa and the place where Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.
Chasing whales and penguins
Continue chasing the whales to the town Hermanus. Their bay is one of the places where it’s easier to spot them. A bit further is Betty’s bay, where we spent the night. Incredible views of the mountains and the ocean, and a nice coast to walk along and over the dunes. Last but not least, you can see African pinguins in Stony Point National Park. As usual, you have to pay to enter the park. However, we can tell you that pinguins are always around and completely visible before the entrance to the park. No need to spend money!
Drive towards Cape town along False Bay. A nice place to stop is Gordon’s bay. From there you can spot Cape of Good Hope at the other side of the bay, and see the silluettes of all the mountains.
Before heading to Cape town, we recommend staying one or two days in the Cape Peninsula. An affordable area to stay is Kommetjie. Around here you can visit the Cape of Good Hope (entrance to the National Park is around 20€ per person). Go to Simon’s town to visit the african pinguins at Boulders beach. Again, there is an entrance fee of around 15€.
Tip: when you arrive at the ticket office of Boulder’s beach for the penguins, don’t enter there. Go to the path on the right, and it will lead you around the beach. You can for sure see them from far, and if you are lucky, you will see them very close as well.
Eagles and tastings
If you are into wine, you can visit plenty of wineries for wine tasting. A good day trip, even if you don’t like wine, is Paarl. There is two farms next to each other, Fairview and Spice route, where you can do all kinds of tasting, from wine, gin and beer to cheese, chocolate and ice cream. Although it is a bit too comercial, it is a really nice experience.
On your way to Paarl, you can stop at Eagle encounters at Spier. It is a non profit organisation, there are three shows a day and you can see and pet eagle owls any time. If you dare, you can get a snake around your neck! All this for around 4€, good value for money.
Finally, the mother land.
Now it’s time to head to the mother city, Cape Town. If you’ve alraedy visited the sorroundings of Cape town, we recommend getting rid of the car as soon as you arrive in the city. Traffic is very dense and parking can be difficult at times. Get yourself a mycitybus card for 2€ and top it up at any station, so you can explore the city by public transport. It’s very easy to use and very affordable.