Zanzibar is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience, with its fascinating historical Stone Town and magnificent beaches. Zanzibar has excellent hotels, both in Stone Town and on the beaches. We always recommend that visitors combine a short stay in Stone Town to explore the history and architecture of the isles’ cultural heart, with a stay on one of the beautiful Indian Ocean beaches.
The east coast of Zanzibar Island (Unguja) features several establishments on the beach, ranging from small and intimate properties to larger resort outfits.
Further afield, great lodges can be f ound on Pemba and Mafia, and smaller islands such as Chumbe and Mnemba.
A popular and unique excursions gives one an opportunity to see dolphins, which inhabit the sea in the southern part of the Island. After a transfer to Kizimkazi, visitors can board a local dhow and head off in search of the dolphins.
It is important to remember that these beautiful marine creatures are not tame in spite of which they come very close to the boats in large numbers.
Snorkeling at these sites is also possible. The return trip includes a visit to the Kizimkazi mosque, believed to be the first mosque in Zanzibar and indeed one of the first in East Africa, which still contains the famous Kufic scripts in its walls.
Jozani Forest Tours
Jozani Forest lies 35kms South-East of Zanzibar Town It takes about 45 minutes driving from the stone town, It’s a humid forest with an area of about 1,000 hectares. At present it is the habitat for the Red Colobus Monkeys (Colobus badius kirkii) and the Blue Sykes Monkeys.
The Red Colobus monkey is one of the most endangered and rarest species in the world and only found in Zanzibar, they are very friendly creatures and love to be photographed and can be viewed at close quarters by the help of your guide. The forest is a delight, with a swamp in the middle, and small streams flowing into the ocean. You may also get a glimpse of various butterflies, birds and snakes.
Other interesting features suitable for tourist in the forest include the coastal evergreen bush land, mangrove forest, saline grassland and ground water forest.
Prison Island Tours
Prison Island situated on the west of Zanzibar, it’s the second from left among four visible Islands from stone town, It takes about 30 minutes ride by motorboat, The Island has a horrible history. An Arab slave merchant to detain recalcitrant slaves firstly used it. In the 1890s a General Matthews bought the island and built what be intended as the prison for Zanzibar.
Apart from the Prison ruins, through a self-walking safari that covers about 15 minutes you will get an opportunity to see the beautiful peacocks and the enormous giant tortoises some of which are over 100 years old. Sultan Said brought these tortoises from Seychelles in the 1900s. The island is also an ideal place for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, or relaxing on a white sandy beach, there is a restaurant in the old hospital for fresh cold drinks and a tourist resort is now built.
This tour starts with a 20 minutes drive through a profusion of greenery in the countryside seeing, smelling and tasting a variety of mouth-watering tropical seasonal fruits, some examples are: jack fruit, pineapple, banana, green coconut (madafu), dourian, love apple (matufaa), rambutun (shoki-shoki), sour sop (stafeli) and star fruit (carambola). Some of the spices are cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, vanilla and nutmeg – are as exotic as the flavor.
A full tour involves much more than spices and you will also have a chance to see the iodine plant, heena bush, ylang-ylang, the lipstick tree, cocoa, cassava, dasheen cocoyam and coffee trees. The tour also includes a visit to the Kidichi Persian Baths built in 1832 by Seyyid Said bin Sultan for his Persian wife Princess Sheharzade grand daughter of the King Shah of Persia. On the way back you will visit the Maruhubi Palace ruins.
Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town – said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.
There are no large wild animals in Zanzibar, and forest areas such as Jozani are inhabited by monkeys, bush-pigs and small antelopes. Civets – and rumour has it, the elusive Zanzibar leopard! Various species of mongoose can also be found on the island. There is a wide variety of birdlife, and a large number of butterflies in rural areas. The coral reefs that surround the East Coast are rich in marine diversity, and make Zanzibar an ideal location for snorkelling and scuba diving.
People, Religion and Language
Zanzibar’s local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of her colourful history. Islam is the dominant religion, and practiced by most Zanzibaris, although there are also followers of Christianity and Hinduism. Population is estimated at 800,000, with the largest concentration being Zanzibar City which has approximately 100,000 inhabitants. Zanzibaris speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), a language which is spoken extensively in East Africa. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar as it is the birth place of the language.
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