Zanzibar Island

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Zanzibar Island

Unwind after your safari and indulge your senses in the tropical paradise of Zanzibar! The main island of Zanzibar (known as Ungunja) and the surrounding islands and atolls of the archipelago are enchanting for their unspoiled tropical beauty, unique cultural richness, and culinary delights. The glorious abundance of unique sea life in the perpetually warm, turquoise Indian Ocean make this destination a diver’s paradise as well. Zanzibar is a romantic oasis full of mystique. Historically, it has been a center of commerce, international diplomacy, a beacon of learning, and a vestibule into Africa for the rest of the world, an island where merchants, traders, missionaries, and explorers dealing in spices and ivory, princes and slaves have visited over the past several centuries. Today, the history of Zanzibar is vibrantly alive in the form of traditional sailing vessels (dhows), carved wooden doors, the narrow, maze-like alleyways between coral stone houses, the scent of lemongrass and cloves, and the smile of the hospitable Zanzibari Swahili people who welcome you to the “Spice Island”. Romance abounds here, as well, in the miles of white sand beaches, stunning accommodations, and sensory pleasures.

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ZANZIBAR AND THE COSTAL ZONE DESTINATIONS

You will fall in love with the historically and culturally rich Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heart of the Swahili Coast, this historical center epitomizes the unique culture shaped by East African encounters with Persia, Arabia, India, Portugal, and others through the trade route dating back to ancient times. Marvel at the Islamic architecture. Hear the call to prayer ringing through the air. Get lost in the labyrinthine streets. Follow the enticing smells of spiced coffee, Swahili curries, and fresh seafood grilling on the side of the road. Tour the museums and relics. Learn about the island’s role in the Arabian slave trade. Watch the traditional dhows sailing in and out of port. Visit the vibrant markets peddling the island’s tropical bounty. Dine under torchlight at the most spectacular street food display at Forodhani Gardens Food Market on the seafront. Particularly for the cultural adventurer, we recommend spending two or three days here before heading off to your beachside retreat.

Zanzibar is also known as the “Spice Island”, whose name evokes a romantic past infused with the particular aroma of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and lemongrass. Today, these, and many other spices, herbs, and tropical fruits are cultivated on the same plantations that have been producing them for centuries. A tour of one of these spice plantations starts with a drive through a profusion of greenery in the countryside and follows with a walk through the plantation where you will see and taste a variety of mouth-watering tropical fruits such as: jack fruit, pineapple, banana, green coconut (madafu), durian, love apple (matufaa), litchi (shoki-shoki), sour sop (mabungo), and star fruit (carambola); spices such as cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, and nutmeg. A full tour involves much more than edible plants—you will also have a chance to see the iodine plant, heena bush, ylang-ylang, lipstick tree, cacao, and coffee trees. The tour additionally includes a bit of history with a visit to the Kidichi Persian Baths built in 1850 by Seyyid Said bin Sultan for his Persian wife Princess Sheherezade, granddaughter of the Shah of Persia, and to the Maruhubi Palace Ruins built by the third Sultan of Zanzibar Seyyid Barghash for his 99 concubines. The tour concludes with a sumptuous traditional Swahili meal prepared with many of the spices and fruits you have just sampled. You can also purchase handmade beauty products made with these natural elements.

Prison Island or Changuu Island is the middle island of the three visible from the Stone Town, it takes approximately 30 minutes to get there by boat. The prison on this island was built in 1893, which was later used as a quarantine Hospital, it has a frangipani-lined path around the island where the former patients took their evening walks. Apart from the Prison ruins you can also see the beautiful peacocks and the enormous giant tortoises some of which are over a 100 years old. Sultan Said brought these tortoises here from Seychelles in the 1820’s. Efforts are being made to protect the eggs of the tortoise. The island is a superb scenario for the photographer. A self-walking safari covers the island in 15minutes. On this little paradise one can also swim, snorkel, sunbathe or just relax and enjoy the peacefulness that this beautiful island has to offer.

Jozani tropical rainforest (Jozani Chakwa Bay National Park) lies 35 kilometers southeast of Stone Town with an area of about 1,000 hectares. Long ago, you could find leopards and antelopes that are now reported extinct. At present, you will find primates such as the indigenous red colobus monkey, the blue Sykes monkey, and the adorable bush baby. The red colobus monkey is one of the most endangered and rarest species in the world. They are very friendly creatures, love to be photographed, and can be viewed at close quarters with the help of your guide. You are also likely to see some of the 50 butterfly species, 40 bird species, and several species of snake. Other interesting features of this ecosystem include the coastal evergreen bush land, mangrove forest, saline grassland, and ground water forest. As a reserve area, the forest also contains nurseries which help to preserve the tree species in the forest.

A 40 minute drive from Zanzibar town, this trip leads you through the Mangapwani cave, a historically significant remnant of the Arabian slave trade. Although the Zanzibar slave market was officially closed in June of 1873, the cave was used through 1911 as a secret hideout from which African captives were illegally led out to sea through a secret passage and then transported by dhow to the Arabian peninsula for sale. The tour proceeds to Nungwi in the north of Zanzibar, an hour’s drive from the cave. Nungwi has crystal clear waters, an excellent place for diving, snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing. As Zanzibar is a turtle conservation area, you will be able to see the natural turtle aquarium here. During this tour we also take you to a site where local villagers build dhows and boats using traditional tools and methods.

Mnemba Atoll is perhaps the most famous conservation area most coveted diving spots in Zanzibar. Mnemba, consisting of seven by four kilometers of reef, is well-known for encounters with green turtles and common dolphins, its wide variety of corals and associated species. Visibility in Mnemba is usually great, with an average of 10 to 30 meters. Divers should make sure to include a trip to Mnemba on their itinerary.

A highlight of any Zanzibar itinerary includes a dhow safari full of memorable maritime activities with Safari Blue. From the little fishing village of Fumba, just 30 minutes from Stone Town, set sail into Menai Bay where you can glide alongside pods of dolphins, which local conservation efforts have allowed to flourish. Mid-morning, land on a powdery sandbank and enjoy snorkeling in the shallows or bask in the sun under the clear Zanzibari sky, then snorkel over two different reefs, both offering a variety of pristine marine life. After working up an appetite, the Kwale Island “restaurant” is ready and waiting for your arrival where you will feast on a freshly caught seafood buffet. Taste 10-15 of Zanzibar’s exotic fruits, and sip on Amarula and coffee. Mid-afternoon, fdiscover all that Kwale island has to offer: sail on a traditional ngalawa canoe, explore the mangroves, climb an ancient baobab, witness the coral formations, swim or lounge the afternoon away on a day-bed or the beach. Finally, in late afternoon when the day is done, the crew hoists the lateen sail as you make a leisurely voyage back to Fumba as the sun sets on your glorious day in paradise.