Zanzibar is actually an archipelago consisting of two large islands, Unguja (Zanzibar Island)
and Pemba, plus several smaller islets. Zanzibar Island is steeped in Arabic history and is famous for its exotic spice industry and stunning white sand beaches.
Historic, Zanzibar Stone Town has the main port of Zanzibar and is the main trading center. It is was home to both the Omani Sultans and colonial administrations as well as the current leadership. Stone Town is a world heritage site and well worth a visit.
Zanzibar was also the setting for the shortest war in history which occured in 1896 and lasted just 45 minutes before capitulation to the British navy. This marked the end of Zanzibar as a sovereign state.
There is a central forest (Jozani) with endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys and mangrove swamps teaming with bird life. There is also the opportunity to swim with dolphins or to go to a butterfly farm. It is possible to arrange a sunset dhow trip and visits to the smaller islands, and of course no visit to Zanzibar would be complete without taking a Spice Tour to learn about the main traditional economy of the island. Scuba diving is also a big attraction, with good coral reefs around the island and several PADI-certified dive centres and schools.
Popular areas for diving:
Nungwi and Kendwa
Chumbe Island is an award-winning paradise! An accurate description would be Robinson Crusoe meets twenty-first century technology, and although this may sound like a peculiar combination it makes for a fantastic, relaxing and utterly luxurious holiday in some of Tanzania’s most beautiful scenery. The attractions of Chumbe Island include some of the best snorkelling available in the Zanzibar archipelago, exclusive private beaches, a forest reserve containing duiker and coconut crabs and a lighthouse offering superb views.
Chumbe Island is really famous for its amazing ventures into the world of sustainable eco-tourism, combined with high levels of luxury and exclusivity. The seven bungalows all have a views of the beach and Indian Ocean, and all have self-contained bathrooms with running hot and cold water. Each bungalow captures its own freshwater supply from the specially-designed roof during the rainy season. The water is then carefully filtered and stored in underground cisterns below each bungalow. The water is then hand-pumped through a solar-powered heating system into hot & cold-water containers to supply the shower and basin in the bathroom.
Chumbe Island has many more remarkable and effective ecologically sound methods of dealing with everyday issues, and prides itself on its intergration into the surrounding habitat. The lodge also runs education programs for local schoolchildren, building on envronmental awareness and sustainability. A trip here is an excellent relaxing end to a Tanzania safari, as well as an eye-opening look at how luxury can be achieved with minimal environmental impact.
The historic Zanzibar Stone Town is gazetted as a World Heritage Site. No Tanzania safari is complete without a visit to this historical and cultural center. The famous narrow streets of Zanzibar Stone Town literally pulse life, and a wander through the atmospheric old town leaves you amazed at the ancient architecture and wide-eyed from the sights and sounds of a bustling African town. There are also many excursions from the town to visit the endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys, relax on the white sand beaches or to swim with dolphins.
Zanzibar Stone Townis also known as Mji Mkongwe, in KiSwahili translating literally to “ancient town”. Stone Town is the old part of Zanzibar City, the capital of the island of Unguja (commonly referred to as Zanzibar). It was the center of the Spice, Slave, Gold and Ivory Trades for the region and the starting point of many European adventurers’ expeditions including David Livingstone’s.
Stown Town is built on a triangular peninsula of land on the western coast of the island. The oldest part of the town consists of a maze of narrow alleys with houses, shops, colourful bazaars, and mosques. Cars are too wide to drive in most of the alleyways but motorcycles and scooters need to be watched out for.
The eclectic architecture of Stone Town incorporates elements of Arab, Persian, Indian, European and African styles. The old Arab houses have ornately carved square wooden doors and enclosed wooden verandas whereas rich Indians had ornate arched doors. The studs on the doors are traditionally from India, designed to repulse elephants.
The site of Stone Town has been occupied for at least three centuries with Stone buildings being first constructed in the 1830s.
Two large buildings dominate Stone Town. One is Beit-El-Ajaib or the House of Wonders (built by Sultan Seyyid Barghash as a palace). The other is the Old Arab Fort which is on the site of a former Portuguese camp and became a fort during the 18th Century.
There are several great restaurants in Stonetown, for example Emerson & Green’s rooftop, and Mercury’s. The exciting sensory overload that is Forodhani Gardens’ numerous fresh food stalls provides a culinary delight for the more adventurous diner, and is worth a visit even if you are not eating. Unless arranged otherwise your accommodation in Stone Town will be on a Bed & Breakfast basis only.
Kizimkazi is a fishing village on Menai bay on the south west of the Southern tip of Unguja Island (Zanzibar Island). The village is most famous as the starting point for Dolphin Safaris (boat trips) where you can actually swim with up to 50 bottlenose and humpback dolphins. If you stay in Kizimkazi this is an amazing experience, if you travel from elsewhere on the Island it is likely that you will arrive late and there will be many boats and little reward.
The dolphin safaris at Kizimkazi are a good example of sustainable eco-tourism as previously the local fishermen used to capture and kill the dolphins, selling the meat to shark fishermen for bait. Tourism is a much more lucrative for them and definitely better for the dolphins!