Zanzibar

General Information

Eastern coast of Zanzibar Island

There are two main islands making up Zanzibar : Unguja and Pemba. Zanzibar Town is on Unguja Island, which is generally referred to as “Zanzibar”. This island is is about 40 miles (65 km) off the East African Coast.  A jewel in tranquil coral waters of the Indian Ocean, Zanzibar is one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Its very name evokes romantic association – smell of spices, images of narrow streets, Arab chests, carved doors and coral reefs. It is a tourist paradise with tranquil, warm tropical water, many miles of beautiful sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean.

From these shores, the great European explorers Burton, Speke and Livingstone set out on their voyages of discovery into the mainland. This island has rich and ancient past, having been the center of travellers sailing from distant lands of the middle east by dhow. Zanzibar was once the main trading center for the whole East Africa. Due to the generally slower pace of life, its tranquility has survived. The narrow streets of the old Stone Town are just some of the vivid reminders of the island’s long and colorful history. It is a fascinating place to wander around and get lost in.

Sites of Stone Town

Central Market (Built in 1904) – The busiest place in town where fish, fruits, vegetables and spices are sold seven days a week. It is fascinating to watch the “shamba ” lorries – trucks with locally constructed wooden bodies – being loaded and unloaded.

House of Wonders, a famous view on the Stone Town waterfront

 

Beit al Ajaib House of Wonders (1883) – Sultan Bargash’s famous palace on the seafront admired for its high ceilings and towering pillars. This was the Sultan’s Palace until 1911.

Anglican Cathedral (1874) – Zanzibar was the hub of the slave trade in East Africa until 1873 when it was abolished.  When the trade was stopped by the British, a church was built on top of old slave market. Visitors can tour the church and the remaining parts of the slave market that were kept intact under the sanctuary. If you are lucky, you may visit during a choir rehearsal and hear some Kiswahili hymns.

Tippu Tip’s House – With its outstanding carved door, this was the residence of Africa’s most notorius ivory and slave trader.

Palace Museum – Former residence of the Sultan ( 1911- 64).

 

Portugese Fort – The oldest structure in Stone Town.

Walking down the narrow lanes of Stone Town gives guests an opportunity to see some splendid architecture like famous Arab doors and chests with their studded brass decorations. There are a variety of spices, antique and gift shops along the way.

 

Spice Tour

Nutmeg fruit on a Spice Tour

This is a tour to wonderful gardens and farms around the island containing exotic and endemic spice and fruit trees. Many of these have medicinal properties and are still commonly used. The visitor can taste a variety of fruits from rose apple to guava, carambola to tamarind. You can savor different spices in their most aromatic state: cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, black pepper and many others. All of these are grown on Zanzibar.

The spice Tour also includes stops at historical monuments which are not in the stone town; the Muhurubi Palace ruins and the Kidichi Persian baths. Most importantly the visitor will see much more of this lush tropical island and learn a great deal about the climate and lives of the people and agriculture.

 

 

Other Sites on the Island

 

Red Colobus monkey in Jozani Forest

Jozani Forest Reserve

Jozani is the largest area of mature indigenous forest remaining on Zanzibar Island. It is located in the center of the island. The water table is high which results to green forest throughout the year. It is thirty-five Kilometers from stone town. This is the only natural habitat of the red colobus monkey. There are so many groups thriving now, visitors can easily get an up close look at these friendly monkeys. The best time to visit the forest is during the afternoon time.

 

Prison Island

This Island was once owned by an Arab who used it for “rebellious” slaves. Some years later in 1893 it was sold to General Mathews, a Brit who thought he would convert it to a prison. His dreams never came to fruition, though and it instead was made into a quarantine station during colonial times. The best way to enjoy the site is to take a day trip. A tortoise colony inhabits the island, some thought to be over 200 years old. Many visiting the island enjoy snorkeling around the nearby reefs.

 

Swim with the Dolphins

Dolphins can be seen in their unique habitat on the coast off Kizimkazi beach. Boat trips to see the dolphins are carefully conducted by trained guides.

 

SAMPLE ITINERARIES

 Zanzibar in 7 Days

Arab Door of Stone Town

Day 1: Meet at the port or airport in the morning. In the afternoon, explore historic Stone Town.

Day 2: A local boat brings you to ‘Prison Island’, a small coral island inhabited by giant tortoises. Take lunch in the island’s restaurant. Spend the day on the small beach or snorkeling among the marvelous corals. Overnight in your hotel in Stone Town. (B)

Day 3: Visit to the island’s spice plantations until lunch time. You will see how cloves, peppers, cacao, sweet potatoes, papaya’s, bananas, lemons, groundnuts, pinapple, and many other plants grow in the farms around the island. Lunch at a local home included. Free afternoon to wander through Stone Town and enjoy their amazing seafood restaurants. Overnight in your hotel in Stone Town. (B) (L)

Day 4: After breakfast, transfer to Kizimkazi at the southernmost point of Zanzibar. A small boat brings you a bit offshore, where we can enjoy swimming and diving with dolphins. Lunch included. Afternoon on the beach in Kizimkazi. Overnight in your hotel in Stone Town. (B) (L)

Day 5: After breakfast transfer to Nungwi Beach at the northern point. This is known to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. There is a possibility for snorkeling, water-skiing, diving, windsurfing, or just relaxing on the beach. (B)

Day 6: Full day beach holiday. There is the opportunity to set out for Mnemba island, an atoll where snorkelling is an unforgettable experience. (B)

Day 7: After lunch transfer to the port or airport. (B)

 

Zanzibar in 3 Days

 

Seafood vendors fill the waterfront park each night to feed tourists and locals

Day 1: Meet at the port or airport in the morning. A local boat brings you to Prison Island. Take lunch in the island’s restaurant. Spend the day on the small beach or snorkeling among the marvelous corals. Overnight in your hotel in Stone Town.

Day 2: After breakfast transfer to Kizimkazi at the southernmost point of Zanzibar. A small boat brings you a bit offshore, where we can enjoy swimming and diving with dolphins. Lunch included. Afternoon on the beach in Kizimkazi. Overnight in your hotel in Stone Town. (B) (L)

Day 3: Visit to the island’s spice plantations until lunch time. It is remarkable to see how cloves, peppers, cacao, sweet potatoes, papaya’s, bananas, lemons, groundnuts, coffee, and many other things grow. Lunch with local people included. Transfer to the port or airport in the afternoon. (B) (L)

 

 

 

Trips can be modified to suit your wishes. Please let us know what you would most prefer to do.