You’ve heard of it. You think you know where it is. And what it is. But do you? Let’s take a dive into this string of paradise islands off the eastern coast of Tanzania and see what makes them so mysterious and magical.
A visit here is a journey back in time to when Zanzibar was known as the “Spice Islands”, busy with the trade and pungent aromas of clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper. You’ll still find traces of its historical past but today’s Zanzibar is also a haven of powdery unhurried beaches resting under swaying palms cozying up to the Indian Ocean.
It’s the largest island of the Zanzibar archipelago and is considered its historical and cultural center. Many just call it Zanzibar Island. You’ll find an enchanting choice of beaches fringing the island where you can swim, snorkel, and discover an undersea world of luminescent marine life in nearby coral gardens. And you may find yourself swimming alongside pods of dolphins that frequent these shores.
The commercial and cultural hub of the island is Zanzibar City, established by the Sultan of Muscat in 1824. And was, regrettably, a hub for the Atlantic slave trade.
Today you’ll find a series of lovely parks and reserves punctuating the city. At forested Jozani-Chwaka National Park, look for red colobus monkeys, duikers, and bush babies.
Take a side trip to Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond near the island’s lighthouse, a sanctuary for many turtle species, protected from predators and hunters.
You’ll want to explore Stone Town, the historic center of Zanzibar City. With its intriguing maze of winding alleys, you’ll still find influences of African, Arab, Indian, and European culture in the art, architecture, and cuisine.
Check out the Old Fort, built by conquering Arabs over 300 years ago. Overlooking the ocean, this surviving citadel features an amphitheater and Cultural Arts Gallery.
Originally, the sultan’s refuge, the Palace Museum on the waterfront offers artifacts of the royal era – thrones, great tables, and majestic portraits.
Don’t miss the House of Wonders built by the sultan. This ornate 19th-century façade of ornate balconies was the first building to be electrified, surely a wonder of its day.
Pemba and Mafia Islands
There are numerous islands in the Zanzibar archipelago but the best known and most visited besides Zanzibar Island are Pemba, known as the “Green Island” and Mafia, a former trading hub for merchants from Egypt, Portugal, Rome, and Greece.
If diving is your thing, Pemba Island offers world-class exploration with its kaleidoscopic collection of marine life. Just a 40-minute flight from Dar es Salaam, Pemba is still the region’s key producer of clove.
Visit This Unique World
A beguiling mix of old-world commerce and modern luxury, Zanzibar is a portal to a very special African experience, one that can’t be easily categorized, but will remain vivid in the sights, smells, and experiences you’ll encounter in this special place.
Let Africa Kenya Safaris create a customized journey to your Zanzibar.