Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
on 30 July 2013
I bought htis book as previous editions got good reviews and this was the most recent edition so I assumed all information would be up to date. I was wrong.
I would say this book breaks down into two parts:
Part 1: History/Culture/Politics and general information about the Islands: pretty good and very interesting.
Part 2: Current information (especially about Stone Town): Poor, out of date or just incorrect.
Part 1 is generally well written and interesting, my partner would often complain I would lose myself reading up about the history of the islands and current situation. I had no problems with this section of the book and, on its own would probably get 4 stars as background to the islands.
Part 2 I got increasingly frustrated with. We spent 2 days at a beach lodge north of Stone Town and then 4 nights at a hotel in Stone Town. We had booked with a beach lodge before getting the book (based on Trip Advisor reviews) so the limited information about our particular lodge was not a problem, however, using this book as a guide to Stone Town was, as I said, increasingly frustration. Despite this being the most recent edition of the book (published only a couple of months before our trip) the majority of prices were several US dollars both for museums and restaurants (several places it claimed you could get a meal for eg $6 each and despite being frugal we found we could never match that when the bill came). While the current prices are not expensive it didn't give us faith in the book (I should also say the quoted exchange rate for Tanzanian Shillings to US Dollars was about right so it wasn't as if that had affected the prices.
Secondly the map for Stone Town, now I understand that providing a map of a place with lots of small streets, allyways and so on is tricky, however, when you find that restaurantsand hotels are clearly not where the map states (on opposite side of junctions and so on) it again, doesn't fill you with confidence.
Thirdly, information on day trips could be so much better. We booked two trips with a company that was recommended in the book and paid slightly over the odds as a result, which we were happy to do so as it was (apparently) a reputable company. On both these trips (Safari Blue and Jozani Forest) the only thing the company provided was a taxi driver: for Safari Blue we were driven to a beach and passed to another company who actually ran the tour and for Jozani forest the cost of entry to the forest includes a Ranger as a guide. Both of these things could easily be included in the book but were not.
Finally the index, things were just missing. Case in point: the book recommends a shop in Stone Town, I can remember the name but not which page it was on, no sign of it in the Index (and not on either of the map of Stone Town which lists the shops).
As I said generally frustrated with the book, previous editions may have been better but this one feels sloppy and was frustrating.