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Our Zanzibar Honeymoon

Rachel & Anthony, Zanzibar 2016:

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Zanzibar was the perfect destination for our unforgettable honeymoon, created perfectly for us by the team at Africa&You. A true tropical island paradise off the coast of Tanzania. We arrived in the warm evening to be met at the airport by a driver, who handed us a cool towel and a bottle of water to refresh ourselves with after the flight. Our first night was at the Double Tree Hilton in historic Stone Town, a World Heritage Site (and the birthplace of Freddie Mercury!). A beautiful converted Zanzibari townhouse, the Double Tree offered comfortable luxury with some much-appreciated air-conditioning, and a fabulous restaurant on the top floor with views from the balcony over the corrugated iron roofs of Stone Town to the ocean.

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Once we’d had a bite to eat we slept well and the next morning, after breakfast and a quick wander through the narrow alleyways and bustling markets of Stone Town, we were picked up in a 4×4 and taken across the island, passing villages full of kiddies playing, men cycling along selling loaves of bread and fish, and forests of exotic trees with weird and wonderful fruit and spices hanging from the branches. We turned off the main road onto a dirt track, which took us through the bustling village of Matemwe, where the villages sat outside their houses made of stone and mud with corrugated iron or thatched roofs, waving to us with big smiles.

Arriving at Matemwe we were met by their exceptionally friendly staff, who each greeted us by our first names, with a cool drink of coconut juice (straight from the coconut of course). Our bags were taken to our ‘bungalow’ and we were given a brief tour by the Ross, Matemwe’s General Manager. Reception is an open thatch-roofed area with a small boutique shop selling souvenirs made by the local villagers, including bathrobes made from traditional kikoys (a cross between a beach towel and a sarong). To get to our bungalow we passed the 2 pools – one an infinity pool overlooking the clear blue ocean, and the second in a more sheltered area in case the winds pick up. Next to the pool area is the bar – a boat-shaped bar stocking every drink imaginable, with sand at your feet and a thatched roof overhead. True laid-back beach style.

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From the bar a winding pathway takes you to the bungalows, through lush gardens full of hibiscus, bougainvillea and palm trees. For the first 5 nights we were staying Matemwe Lodge, and then 3 nights at Matemwe Retreat. At Matemwe Lodge, the 11 bungalows are all ocean-facing and private, some with a private plunge pool and sun-loungers. With one huge bed in the middle, lots of pillows and draping mosquito nets, and a high thatched roof allowing in the sea breeze, we felt immediately at home. The bathrooms are huge, with a large open rain shower area, and a separate room for the free-standing stone bath.

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Double doors open onto a deck with a double hammock (yes double!) and seating area, with views over the lagoon and reef and across the blue ocean to Mnemba Island, where the coral reefs are so untouched there are some of the best dive sites in the world. In the morning the villagers walk out onto the reef at low tide to catch octopus, mussels and other small fish, to cook for the day.

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Our days were spent relaxing in the warm Tanzanian sunshine by the pool, taking a dip, reading and indulging in the odd spa treatment at the sea & spice spa. With a full board rate all drinks & meals were included and the waiters would stop by at regular intervals to see if we would like any refreshments. Breakfast was a full buffet and choice of hot food served on the restaurant deck, with an array of tropical fruit and juices. Lunch and dinner were 3 courses, with a choice of 2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts, with one of the main meals being catch of the day. Seafood was a highlight at every mealtime, caught fresh from the reef outside the lodge by the local villagers. We enjoyed a lot of octopus, calamari, prawns and crab – all cooked perfectly with tantalising accompaniments by the in-house chef, using lots of delicious Swahili spices.

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Before dinner we would pop to the bar to sample the cocktail of the day and sometimes play a game of Bao with the barman (a traditional Swahili game using beads or shells – hours of fun to be had!).

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Matemwe is certainly off-the-beaten track and the perfect place to get away from the stress and busyness of everyday life. There are daily activities to do from the lodge, should you wish to expend some energy, and one morning we took a reef walk. At low tide the guide took us out through the thigh-deep water, telling us where to walk so as to avoid stepping on sea urchins. We watched as a local villager caught an octopus with her bare bands, found starfish and learnt some Swahili along the way.

Another morning we took a snorkeling trip to Mnemba Island – a true Robinson Crusoe paradise white sand island surrounded by beautiful shallow coral reefs. Towards the end of our snorkel our guide called to us to get back on the boat as dolphins had been spotted close by. We got on the boat and went towards where the dolphins had been seen and jumped in. The 4 dolphins were swimming peacefully along the ocean bed, about 15m down. We swam along above them for a while, cautious not to get too close and disturb them, until in unison they decided to swim upwards towards us. They passed us, seemingly smiling at us, and surfed the waves alongside us for a short while before diving deep again. We were privileged to enjoy mesmerizing experience for about 20 minutes, with the dolphins swimming up and then down again, before they serenely swam off into the distance. This had been a huge bucket list dream of mine and I will remember it forever.

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Our final 3 days at Matemwe Retreat were absolutely incredible. We loved our time at Matemwe Lodge and didn’t think it could get any better, but moving into Retreat we were seriously blown away. We had our own private 2-story villa called Safina, with our own personal butler called Ndaki. The ground floor is largely an enormous bedroom with a huge bed covered in fine linens and a silk overthrow made by local villagers. Next to the bedroom is a bathroom, almost the same size, with an open rain shower and a sunken bathtub, next to stack shutter doors that open onto the private deck and views of the ocean. The deck runs the length of the villa and has a day bed, a dining area and a bar, which Ndaki made sure was stocked with our favourite drinks.

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Upstairs blew us away completely – a private plunge pool, with 2 sunbeds and a shady lounge area full of cushions with panoramic views over to Mnemba Atoll and out to sea. The perfect place to relax with a good book and soak up the Zanzibari rays of sunshine.

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After our morning out snorkeling we returned to find our bath filled with hibiscus flowers and rose petals floating on the warm water, surrounded by candles and 2 fresh coconut juices, all prepared for us in secret by our butler. The rose petals continued into the bedroom and our bed was covered in flowers and candles. When the time came for dinner to be served we noticed our chairs had disappeared from the dining area on the deck. Ndaki innocently asked if maybe they could be upstairs on the top deck. We went up and were blown away to find a table laid out with candles and our favourite wine in an ice bucket – the perfect romantic end to our incredible honeymoon. We can’t thank the staff at Africa&You and at Asilia Matemwe, for putting everything together so seamlessly and with such attention to detail.

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We will never forget the incredible 10 days we spent on our paradise island, organized meticulously by Africa&You. It really was the honeymoon dreams are made of. Thank you!

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For more information about ZanzibarMatemwe Lodge & Retreat, or honeymoons in Africa, contact one of our experts today!

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Testimonials

"honeymoon paradise"

Rachel & Anthony

We had the most magical & unforgettable 10 days in paradise. Thank you to the A&Y team for creating a honeymoon we will remember forever.

"Had the best vacation of my life!"

Andrew Berger

Amazing! Had the best vacation of my life... every accommodation was incredible, all my tours and groups were really really good and met the best people. I am really really pleased with how everything turned out!

"Passionate and dedicated"

Jolene du Plessis

An excellent tour operator who doesn't treat you like a number. Belinda takes the time to listen to all your concerns and interests and puts forward the best options for you. She is passionate about Africa Travel - that's what makes the difference!

"Amazing family holiday"

Andrew Proctor

Created a fantastic trip which felt personalized for me and my young family. Recommend Africa&You to anyone.

"Our trip was outstanding."

David Freeman

Our trip was outstanding. I enjoyed the level of support that our agent provided, all updates were communicated timely and the nice swag bag in Cape Town was a nice touch. All we were left with was enjoying the experience.

"Everything was perfect and memorable"

Pat Hanlon

We completely enjoyed every recommendation. Everything was perfect and memorable. We've travelled a lot but this one may take the cake. You are wonderful people whom we are very happy to know and to work with.

"Tailor-made vacation to perfection"

Eileen Cahill

From the very beginning, the team at Africa&You were extraordinarily helpful and kind, and both professional and friendly. Able to hone in on exactly the type of trip with the absolutely precise interests that I was hoping for. I have traveled the world, but they stand out as the warmest people I have had the pleasure of working with.

"Trip planning was effortless"

Sarah Langford

We had a fantastic trip to Zambia and South Africa. Africa&You made trip planning effortless. It was a nice touch to connect live with our agent to discuss what kind of trip we were hoping for and they opened our eyes to the many different parts of Southern Africa. We appreciated their quick response, their flexibility as we changed our itinerary a few times.

"We will recommend your services.... "

Lyudmila Young

We are very grateful for your planing of the trip. We all found South Africa to be a beautiful country and will recommend your service to our families and friends. Thank you!

"An exceptional itinerary"

Darren Cooper

I can't give enough thanks for the trip that you organised for me at very short notice. You produced an exceptional itinerary that took in Cape Town, Safari and the winelands. We were blown away by the whole experience which was wholly due to the fantastic service you provided. We can't wait to return to South Africa with your assistance again.

"Couldn't recommend better!"

Jono Durham

Amazing operator with exceptional service right from the beginning. I felt well taken care of and the lodge choice was exceptional. Couldn't recommend better!

" Our expectations were high and they were exceeded"

Corinne Leite

This travel agency planned the perfect trip for our party of 8, four adults and four teens. Our travel planner listened to what kind of experience we were looking for and delivered. Our expectations were high and they were exceeded by the experiences we had. It was the trip of a lifetime that will never be forgotten by all of 8 of us!

"Amazing value without comprimising on quality"

Jane & Nick

From a safari in the Serengeti to tropical beaches, everything was perfect. No hassles, no stress, just an amazing holiday. Africa&You gives the best recommendations and incredible value without compromising on quality. We'll be coming back to you for sure!

"Probably the best getaway we've ever had"

Jane McCauley

I wanted to thank you again for your great work arranging our trip. It really could not have gone more smoothly -- absolutely no issues and everyone was wonderful. Probably the best getaway we've ever had.

"Amazing experiences in Africa that I will never forget!"

Stephanie Alexander

This safari travel company did such a fantastic job on planning this trip. It was a trip of luxury and amazing experiences I will never forget! Every place we stayed was beautiful, the transport was always right on time, and the activities were unforgettable. Rachel was always an email away to help us answer any questions or concerns we had before, during and after our trip.

"trip exceeded our expectations"

Robin Maslin

Our travel agent was extremely knowledgeable, had great suggestions, and took into account our special travel requirements and preferences. It was wonderful working with her, and the trip exceeded our expectations!

"The experience of a lifetime"

Melanie Buren

I couldn't have been happier with the experience I had with Africa&You. Belinda was so helpful, and SO patient with me regarding all my worries regarding the upcoming trip. And the trip itself was unforgettable! Not only were the adventures I had more than I could've ever dreamed, but the organization (being picked up and taken to each destination on time and without a glitch) was extremely impressive.

"Such an amazing experience"

Lucy Trafford

We had such an awesome time. Thank you so much for organizing for us!

"Simply amazing!"

Angela Amos

Oh Serengeti, you were so good to us! Big 5 plus so much more! Simply AMAZING! Ready for the next adventure! Thank you Africa&You for putting it together so perfectly!

"The perfect honeymoon..."

Jamie & Kate

Thank you so much for organising an incredible honeymoon for us Rachel. You were a superstar and planned everything perfectly.