Untold Goes For Raising The Bar.
This journal entry we’d like to take some time to talk about what we’d love to achieve with our book that will launch you into a buying frenzy when it hits the stores end of this year. Of course, we want to make our adventures so alluring and inspiring they make you want to pack and leave immediately. Another major part of what we’d like to instill is the notion of responsible and sustainable travelling.
Creating and experiencing beauty is possible without having ugliness as a by-product.
So, we will not only share our experiences with some exceptional people and their devotion to provide you with a five-star beach holiday on the Zanzibar archipelago. We will also give their relentless effort to spread and share some good the attention it deserves.
The first place we visited that honours these principles is Red Monkey's, snugly nested on the eastern shores of the island and getting its name from the numerous red colobus monkeys they share their grounds with.
Their motto, barefoot and lazy, says everything about what you can expect during a stay. Indeed, the cosy cottages, the beach beds and hammocks, … everything oozes laid-backness. For those looking for a less horizontal beach time, Red Monkeys offers many aquatic activities and is a proper kite surfer’s paradise.
Mark and Kristine, the owners, are anything but lazy when it comes to working closely with the community and creating an ecological and sustainable lodge. They run their operation with a deep love for nature, their neighbours and a passion for their guests.
Mark, who was a tremendous help to us for our book, is also one of the driving forces behind Zanzibar Gourmet, a collective of exceptional chefs and other like-minded entrepreneurs that share a passion for the island, its inhabitants and its cuisine. He showed us many interesting places and people who are part of the Zanzibar Gourmet initiative.
We were also fortunate to be invited to share the Iftar (the evening breaking of the fast) with a family once the sun had set down. Zanzibar is predominantly muslim and it was Holy Month (Ramadan) after all, but still, a very unique and warm experience.
Next day we took to the deep blue again. Safari Blue organises sea excursions on traditional dhows. Made with local mahogany and following the ancient old rules of dhow making but equipped with the most modern navigational instruments. A day usually consists of some easy cruising and gently bobbing on the waves and some snorkeling for good measure. At lunch time you set anchor on the shores of your very own private island and are treated to a bbq of all the freshness and yumminess the surrounding waters have to offer, lobster, calamari, octopus, ... Then some more sailing and enjoying the saline seabreeze and another stop on yet another private little island where you can sample a wide variation of local fruits for dessert (amongst them the infamous ‘smells like hell, tastes like heaven’ durian!).
Our last stop that day was Upendo. A beautiful and stylish boutique hotel designed and run by Trish Dhanak.
Although everything here breathes an elegant mix of hip design, stylish eastern inspiration and beautifully crafted island tradition it is anything but stand-offish or blasé. On the contrary, welcoming warmth is all around here. The heart and soul of this operation, Trish, invited our Chef Axel to a sort of intercultural cook-off.
Trish made a curry stew honouring her Indian roots and spoiling our taste buds while Axel made ‘Gentse Waterzooi’, a traditional Belgian dish. Although on this occasion he pimped it with squid, cigale lobster, prawns and other exotic delicacies that are a bit less frequent in our cold, murky waters. And so, the melting pot of cultures that Zanzibar is was once again ‘translated’ into the pots and pans in the kitchen.
Upendo is also overlooking The Rock (stop saying it like Sean Connery!). This ‘The Rock’ was voted one of the top 10 places to dine in the world and in our book we will talk about the meal Axel prepared here together with some other top-notch chefs.
The following day we drove up north to Kenwa where we stayed in Zuri. This place is amazing in itself but what made it particularly special is that we were the very first people to stay there, since the lodge would only officially open in a couple of weeks! You will be able to read all about our stay in this exclusive place with maybe one of the best beaches in the world in our upcoming book. We will also explain how Zuri is making a difference by offering education to the local communities and by working with as much local products as possible.
Before this trip we only knew one Swedish chef. Now we know two of them.
Meet our new friend, Jussi Husa, Zuri’s Swedish-born executive chef. Jussi is a force of nature, a charismatic whirlwind that has been cooking for almost 40 years. His røck ‘n røll personality and undiminishing passion for food were a lust for the eye and a true inspiration. The dishes this still young at heart veteran served us left us flabbergasted. Which almost sounds Swedish.
Just like this astonishing island is surrounded by wondrous waters Mark and our other new friends are spreading positive vibes and are having a beneficial impact on those around them. No man is an island. Not even on Zanzibar.
Later this year when our book is out, you’ll be able to delve deeper into how Zanzibar Gourmet showcases the delicious and fresh island cuisine and invites chefs from all over the world to cook with them. You will also discover more about how these kindred spirits respect locality, seasonality and their fellow island dwellers.
All throughout the book, from the vast plains of the Serengeti to the azure seas of Zanzibar we will gently nudge you towards all those men and women who share this philosophy. The mutual understanding that you can have an amazing travel experience while respecting everyone and everything you share this ‘third rock from the sun’ with.