#Travel: Inaugural Safarilink direct flight from Nairobi to Zanzibar lands at the Spice Island

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PHOTO: Honourable Rashid Ali Juma (Minister of Information, Tourism, Culture & Sports) and John Buckley (Managing Director of Safarilink Aviation)

The inaugural Safarilink direct flight servicing Nairobi to Zanzibar nonstop, four times a week, arrived Saturday morning at the Spice Island with more than fifty tourism stakeholders and members of the media.

For many aboard, like me, it was not their first time visiting the beautiful destination of Zanzibar. However, it was the first time for all of us, to fly to Abeid Amani Karume International Airport on a direct and nonstop flight.

The 1 hour 45 minutes journey over to Zanzibar began with a celebratory liveliness at the Safarilink terminal, located at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport. The passenger immigration experience was surprisingly effortless thanks to the Safarilink staff that collected our identification documents for processing, whilst we continued to enjoy our coffee, seated comfortably at the lounge.

Flying past Mount Kilimanjaro was incredible as it seemed much closer than usual in the DeHavilland Dash-8, a twin-engine aircraft manufactured by Bombardier, leaving an impression that will last for the rest of my life.

In Zanzibar, a traditional water arch salute greeted the aircraft as it taxied to the gate. The Safarilink pilots braved the plumes of water from the two fire fighting vehicles, and jubilantly waved both flags, Kenya and Tanzania, out of the cockpit’s skylight.

On Zanzibar’s main island, Stone Town is a historic trade hub that was part of the storied Spice Route. Today, a walk through the winding alleys and narrow laneways, tourists pass 19th century landmarks such as a former sultan’s palace, and public spaces that transform into hubs for street food vendors at night. Hotels built in refurbished historic buildings, such as the Zanzibar Serena Hotel, located conveniently in Stone Town, are great for exploring the old city.

Breadth of gardens with bursting exotic blooms in northern villages such as Kiwengwa and Nungwi, framed by fine white sand, are fringed with beautiful blue seas. In Zanzibar, no matter what part of the island you find yourself at, the sandy shores offer a myriad of leisure and hotel options. The northern village of Kiwengwa features one of the most hospitable, Bluebay Beach Resort and Spa, where wide beaches will welcome you.

The four weekly flights to Zanzibar from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport operate on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; make it easy for travelers to add a beach leg to their safari, or for Nairobians to enjoy a convenient holiday to the Spice Island. Return fares begin at $310 including taxes.

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SUSAN WONG

Susan Wong is the Editor of Capital Lifestyle, a resident photographer, an award-winning journalist, radio presenter, full-time adventurer, long-time admirer of anything edible, and a spicy food athlete at Capital FM.

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