Our first travel scholarships, launched in 2021, were available to citizens of 8 countries, all of which were deemed to have suffered from conflict, and where we felt we wanted to make a difference to young people. As part of our values, of making travel more accessible and democratic to all, we were incredibly happy to find Arlene and Ineza from Rwanda who passed quite a rigorous selection process and were in the end among the chosen recipients. Both are students of law who had never travelled outside their native country before.
As part of the scholarship, which pays for all the costs associated with the trip, we work with the recipients to create a cultural experience that will matter. So the trip is not a holiday on the beach, for example, it is about really understanding another culture and what it has to offer, and how the world is different. Arlene and Ineza opted for Tanzania to explore its capital Dar es Salaam as well as Zanzibar. But with some creative flight options, they also got a good stopover in Nairobi, Kenya.
We will allow the photos and some of the direct texts to speak for themselves. This material, as well as some of the videos made by these enterprising young ladies, will soon be available on our website as well.
Ferris wheel in Nairobi, a stopover for Arlene (far right(, Ineza (second from right) & friends
I was sure to take a video as I took my first step on the plane. Finding my seat was not hard, however, buckling the seat belt proved to be a bit of a challenge to me. Take-off and the plane ride was smooth and in no time the flight attendants were serving snacks. About an hour later, the captain announced we were already in Kenya. The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was so different from the Kigali International Airport in size and style. Thanks to the East African countries’ cooperation, we did not need a lot of documents for our entry visa and got our visas in a matter of seconds. With over 6 hours of transit, we took the chance to visit around Nairobi. By chance it was a public holiday and we didn’t get stuck in the famous ‘Nairobi traffic’, The expressway was the quick way as we made our way to the Two Rivers Mall, the biggest mall in East Africa as I was told.
We got back to the Nairobi airport, which was packed, and made it to our flight to Dar-es-Salaam. We landed in Tanzania around 8:00 PM and I was shocked by how hot it was; it was my first time experiencing such heat. I was very exhausted and couldn’t really enjoy the ride around the city to our Airbnb which was about an hour’s drive from the airport. Next afternoon after a morning settling in, we went to visit the National Museum and House of Culture which showcases the history of Tanzania. Its most famous exhibits include some bones of Paranthropus boisei that were among the findings of Louis Leakey at Olduvai. The museum also has a large section dedicated to the Shirazi city-state of Kilwa. More historical miscellaneous material is related to the German and British rule, and ancient Chinese pottery. The museum also has ethnographic collections on Tanzanian cultures.
In Dar es Salaam, we went for dinner at a restaurant named Sea Cliff Hotel and it was my first time seeing the ocean up so close. To be honest, it is one of the most beautiful things on this earth and being that close felt surreal and I was filled with a lot of emotions. At dinner, I tried shrimps and prawns for the first time, which is almost impossible to find in any restaurant in Rwanda, I did love them and I will definitely try them again.
Another culture shock that was experienced throughout the trip was that only the minority of Tanzanians speak fluent English. Google translate and maps were to become very crucial apps for me. We had our last morning in Dar es Salaam on December 30th, when we got the 3:30pm ferry for Zanzibar. The ferry ride was surprisingly smooth and enjoyable, with stunning views of the Indian Ocean. Two hours later, as we got close to the shores of Zanzibar, we were in awe of the island’s beauty, with bustling markets, vibrant colors, and unique architecture surrounding us. After checking-in at Tarawanda, an artistic accommodation with a shared living space, and the most friendly hosts, we wasted no time in discovering Stone Town and grabbing dinner at the Capetown Fish Market, a restaurant by the water.
Arlene (left) and Ineza (centre), along with a friend who accompanied them
In Zanzibar, we rented a boat that took us to three islands. We first went to Prison Island which is known for the huge and old tortoises it has as well as its historical buildings. We learnt that this island was used as a prison for rebellious slaves during the slavery era in the 1860s. It was later transformed into a quarantine station for yellow fever cases. Our second stop was in the middle of the ocean, where one can swim in the middle of the ocean safely. We wore safety vests and respiratory masks and swam in the Indian Ocean for an hour which was one of the activities I ticked off my bucket list.
I conquered my fear of animals and managed to touch the tortoise but the fear still showed in the pictures. The last stop was at the Nakupenda Sandbank. Having only seen a sandbank from the images in my geography classes, it is safe to say a sandbank is more intriguing in real life. Being so fascinated, I walked around the edge of the sandbank to get the full experience and collect as many shellfish. Back in Stone Town, we got ready for the New Year celebrations which we were to have in Nungwi, a sister city to Stone Town. Later, on January 01, 2023, we managed to visit the Freddie Mercury Museum but unfortunately, there were no cameras allowed. The museum exhibits his music career and life in Zanzibar.
Arlene with the huge tortoises
At NomadMania, we wish to continue offering experiences to young people like Arlene and Ineza. But we can only do so with your contributions. Please consider giving us a donation or becoming one of our permanent Patreon sponsors.