Nungwi, Zanzibar- Do not Jambo or Hakuna Matata me

Nungwi, Zanzibar- Do not Jambo or Hakuna Matata me

Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before – Dala Lamai

Nungwi is a litte village on the Northern tip of Zanzibar. Tourist guides sell Nungwi as a lively village with all year sunshine, long stretch of white sandy beaches, clear blue sea  and a lot of water sports to entertain visitors of the village. Having read the rave reviews on various travel sites, I booked a 3-day stay at Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort, an all inclusive beach resort in Nungwi.  My intention was to relax by the beach, enjoy a host of water sports, eat, sleep and be completely shut out from the world for the whole 3 days. The last three items on the list went to plan unfortunately, the whole relax by the beach and enjoy a host of water sports was wishful thinking.

Arriving at Nungwi was an anti-climax as it looked like any other improvised African village and much too quiet to believe it could ever be lively. Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort on the other hand, looked the part- a majestic looking beach resort with 4 swimming pools including an infinity pool, thatched roof apartments and with restaurants and bars overlooking the turquoise Indian Ocean. We couldn’t be happier on our arrival. Check out the video tour of the Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort and our room here.

After unpacking, we decided to go for lunch and again we were impressed by the restaurant setting just by the beach. The food was good but we were soon plagued by flies and the nonchalance displayed by the servers at our plight evidenced the sub par customer service.

On the topic of customer service, I think the employees thought it just equated to smiling and constant greeting with “Jambo!” (Swahili for “hello”). Don’t get me wrong, I think the employees were nice and they tried to assist when you ask them to but I don’t think 5 star service is something that comes to them intuitively. For example, the birds and flies issue during meal times is a known problem so they shouldn’t have to wait for the customer to complain before offering their solution, which in this case it was to light candles on the table. There was also an instance during dinner when one of the employees thought that it was a good time to strike up conversation with us, totally oblivious to the fact that we were a couple in the middle of our own discussion and trying to eat! Just to be polite we had to endure his chat about Nigeria, Nollywood, Football and blah blah.

The facilities at the hotel were a joke. I literally laughed at what was made available, or in this case, not available to guests. We requested an Iron the second day and I got the impression that there was just one Iron in the whole resort and it was the one also used by the Laundry service. The Iron was also archaic looking and was probably older than me. There was only one Kayak that accommodated two people and surprise surprise, it was not usable as it was leaking! I think there was a diving centre but no other water sport was in sight. Massage by the beach started at a ridiculous $50 per person and the little strip of beach in front of the “beach resort” was rendered unusable by the ever presence of the beach boys who were obviously under the influence of drugs and trying to sell goods or tours to tourists. One of them even stole the beach slippers my travel partner had placed on the beach when he went Kayaking. All drinks were watered down to the extent that you couldn’t discern the actual flavour of the drink you ordered. I also think that the food presentation could be better even though the food itself tasted good (apart from dinner on the first night which was atrocious).

My destination verdict: I just didn’t see the attraction in Nungwi so exploring it wasn’t of particular interest. Also Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort in its current state is a miss for me. Pestering by the beach boys was a complete turn off and rather than feel like fee paying guests in our own little paradise cocoon, we felt imprisoned in the resort. I could go on but I think I should end my rant now.

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