It’s become evident that when holiday seekers travel to East Africa for a safari experience they will eventually end up in Zanzibar to wrap up the Africa safari experience. Zanzibar is considered to be part of the greater Tanzania, through ruled and governed by its own people. The name Zanzibar is derived from a combination of two Arabic words, ‘Zinj’, meaning black, and ‘barr’ being the Arabic word for land, resulting in the ancient title ‘Land of the Blacks’. As Zanzibar absorbed peoples from as far as the Orient and Iberia, Assyria and India, so the tapestry of its expression. Zanzibar being the birthplace of Swahili, a lingua franca forged from global dialects, upon which legends were carried, trade routes opened and a Sultan Empire prospered there.
Zanzibar Island has a rich history with many invasions through the centuries. In the middle of the 19th century under the Omani Arabs the Island was the most important trading port on the East Africa, long before Kenya started safaris. The strident laments and exultant overtures of Swahili taarab were born, their rhythms and melodies carried and honed between Zanzibar and the Arabian Gulf until they became the sounds of Zanzibar’s own musical narrative.
The architectural styles of the main town in Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’ were born of the social convergence, while the tangled mass of stories, woven from centuries of lives lived, bestow a folklore and legacy that permeate life on the archipelago.
The Stone Town of Zanzibar is a fascinating warren of narrow streets, overhanging balconies and huge intricately carved doors. The bustling Suk where traders frantically bargain, is full of the pungent perfume of exotic spices.
The Old Stone town was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO for more than a decade now. Lamu Island in Kenya is also one of the islands that hold this prestigious title.
In order to protect the towns the governments has established the Stone town Conservation Authorities to enforce this.
Both Islands do really compete for the holiday makers looking for unexploited beaches and culture after Kenya safaris.
The stone town offers real value tours that start from the main city market, which was opened in 1904, you will get a comprehensive view of the Stone town architecture, its sand and stone ancient built houses, some of them have Arab inscriptions with carved doors with brass studs, carved balconies. You will also get the chance to see the old post office.
A good guide will then take you to the Anglican Cathedral of Christ, which was built by Bishop Steers in 1873 on the site of the Old slave market.
From here you will continue and tour the Sultans Palace Museum, House of Wonders (Beit-el-ajaib) built in 1883 and bombarded by British fleet in 1886, next to this you will see the Old Arab Fort, built in 1700.
A stone town tour is never complete until you see the slave caves and chambers.
The spice tour is also a favorite. Take half day and starts with a drive through a profusion of greenery in the country side, here you will be walking on different types of spice plantations that include cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, vanilla, and nutmeg.
The tour involves much more than spices and you get to see iodine plant, henna bush, ylang-ylang, the lipstick tree, cocoa, cassava, dasheen cocoyam and coffee plantations.
The tour also gives you the opportunity to explore the Islands richness of mouth watering tropical seasonal fruits like sand fruit, pineapples, bananas, green coconut, dourian, love apple, rambutun, soursop and the star fruit.
Dolphin Tours are also half days, they take place on Southern part of Menai Bay Conservation Area, and the bay is home to bottle nosed and hum pack dolphins. Using a motorboat you depart from Kizimkazi fishing village south of Zanzibar Island for a boat drive to dolphin site. When we spot them you will be able to swim with them at a very close distance.
As the sun is setting, you will be served with traditionally spiced Zanzibari snacks, washed down with good wine, gently illuminated by moon and candlelight.
Jozani Forest lies 35 kilometers south east of Stone town. It takes about 45 minutes driving from town. It’s a wet and forest land with an area of about 1,000 hectares.
The forest is a terrestrial and inter tidal protected area dedicated to conservation of the biodiversity. The forest gets funds directly from entry fees, levy on filming, research work, grants and other sources.
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