“ City: Zanzibar / Country: Tansania / World Region: Africa „
Zanzibar, also named the Spice Island, is a beautiful island off the coast of Tanzania. It lies in the tropics of the Indian Ocean, and has other Islands near by, namely Pemba and Mafia. It really is a wonderful place, catering for both the back packers and the more affluent travellers.
Firstly a little history. Zanzibar was a major stopping port for the Arab traders. They would travel between Arabia, India and Africa, trading ivory, spices and slaves. It became a British protectorate in 1890, which led to the Anglo - Zanzibar war 1n 1896. This was the shortest war in history as it only lasted a good 45 minutes!
In 1964 Zanzibar gained independence from Britain and joined forces with Tanganyika to form Tanzania.
So, as you can gather, Zanzibar has a huge Arabic influence and has continued with its spice trade, thus it is known as the Spice Island. It's main religion is Muslim, and all over the island are Mosques in various sizes and conditions. You will hear the chants from the Mosque throughout the day, but it is the early morning pray call that can really wake you up at the wrong time.
How to get there. From Dar Es Salaam you can either take the ferry or fly, I have done both. Although Zanzibar is 25 - 50 kilometer from the mainland, the boat can take any time from two hours, and that is the express. I felt dreadfully sea sick on the way back, and vowed I would never do it again!!! There are numerous airlines which will pop you across in 15 minutes. It is simple and once you are up, you start descending to land. No probs.... Apart from the runway which does have a "few" potholes. Just keep your fingers crossed and hope the pilot knows what they are doing!
The airport itself is very archaic. It is a real bun fight trying to get to your luggage. It is all manually operated (yes by hand!), there are no electric conveyer belts. It can be a problem if your small plane lands at the same time as the huge Italian plane which comes regularly. On departing the island, it is just as much hassle. There are no air conditioners, and check in is in a shack like structure. The customs officials check your baggage in front of everyone else, so even if you make sure all your embarrassing things are at the bottom of the case, it doesn't matter, they churn everything around! When we were trying to check in, there was no official in site, people are very laid back, while you are sweating yourself into a frenzy. Hakuna matata (no problem in Kiswalhili)!
You can either use the local currency (Shillings) or US dollars. Just be careful you don't get ripped off by money changers, especially outside the airport.
Stone Town in the capital of Zanzibar. It is an ancient city which has plenty of history. Much of it is in a derelict state, and it really does need some conservation as it is a World Heritage Site. There are so many places to stay, from the cheap back packer haunts to the 5 star hotels. There is too much choice. If you are a drinker, make sure your hotel serves alcohol, as many with strong religious backgrounds do not.
Also there are so many different places to eat, from the vendors cooking on the side of the roads, to classy restaurants like Emersons. Emersons is a wonderful experience. Sitting on top of the flat roof, with cushions on the floor, and a huge piece of silk acting as a roof fluttering above your heads, watching the sun set over the ocean. Very romantic, but not for kids.
From Stone Town, there are plenty of tours to take. One is the Spice Tour, which is fascinating. Along with seeing all the spices, and how they are grown, you also learn about the history of the growth of the spices. The Arabs used slaves to grow the spices under dreadful conditions. You come away from the Spice Tour far more knowledgeable and with some variety packs of spices.
There is also Prison Island just of the coast of Stone Town. Here you will find some giant tortoises roaming around, and can spend a lazy day on the beach relaxing and snorkeling.
To travel around the island you can either go by taxi, called 'dala dala', mini bus or you can hire a vehicle. The roads are very old and worn out, so if you drive yourself, be careful. It is quite a nail bitting experience, being driven around Zanzibar. The laws of the road are up to the individual, with cows and goats crossing at intervals.
Zanzibar has some of the most beautiful beaches around its coastline. I have never been to the south east coast, but you can swim with dolphins here. On my most recent trip I stayed on the north east coast, in the Matemwe region, in a house called Zi Villa.
The driver from Zi Villa picked us up from the airport for a pricey sum of $20 each. The state of the mini bus was awful and quite scary. I had begun to doubt our choice of accommodation. However when we reached Zi Villa all was forgiven. It was a fabulous house, all decorated with an Arabic zest. It had air conditioning in all the bedrooms, and the sea breeze blew through the living areas. On the deck there was a large pool, and the ocean was just below with a white sandy beach. We, there were 13 of us, were spoilt rotten for 10 lazy days, with our own chef providing delicious sea food meals.
In the North of the island there is a great diving/snorkeling site called Mnemba Island. You cannot actually dock at the island as it is private and cost £1,000 a night, but many boats anchor off the shore. The sites under the water are amazing, they truly are. Even my 3 year old was snorkeling, and the best thing he saw was "the divers deep below him!".
The best time to visit Zanzibar if from August to November. December through to March are HOT waiting for the rains. Then April and May can bring heavy rains. June is the coolest month. We went in March and it was very hot, but the sea breeze helped.
Do not forget to take malarial medicine, as Zanzibar does have mosquitoes. Take precautions, spray, and sleep under a net (it always looks romantic sleeping under a net, with a fan purring above your head!). Remember lots of sun cream too.
To me Zanzibar is a beautiful unspoiled island. There are no sky scraping hotels, and there is certainly not an overload of tourists. It is extremely romantic, alongside being magical fun.
Zanzibar is without doubt one of the star attractions of Tanzania. It lies 15-30 miles off the mainland, but you can still get your passport stamped on arrival by boat if you like...! The two ways of reaching Zanzibar are by plane and by boat from Dar Es Salaam. A number of tourists will take the plane, but I would recommend the boat - it is a beautiful journey, and you will get to talk to some interesting locals as you while away the hours. There are two types of boat - the fast boat and the slow boat. There's a $20 difference in price, but quite a lot differs in quality. I would recommend missing the slow overnight boat unless you're really on a budget - 7 hours of slowly rocking across the sea may not be for everyone. I woke up when a wave broke into the boat and my head got soaked....
Right, on Zanzibar itself, most people opt to stay in Stone Town, the main town. It;s worth a night or two to get your bearings, and it is pretty and a good place to stock up on souvenirs, but after this you should really get to the coast! The north and west are the most popular parts as they are easily reached from stone town, but having gone to all the effort of getting there, why not go a bit further. I stayed on Jambiani beach, on the east coast, which was excellent. We stayed at Golden Monkey lodge, I think, right at the end of the beach. This was ideal because the beach touts wouldn't bother walking this far down to bother us! Cheap hostel, think about $20 each a night in doubles, food in the dining room and cheap dhow snorkelling trips, $15-20 I seem to remember. Small and comfy!
They also have full moon parties on a beach near Stone Town which seem to be popular. If you eat in the night market in Stone Town, find out how much the food is before they put it on the bbq - I did and was ok, my friends didn't and ended up paying nearly £4 for a lobster kebab thing. To get around the island, you can get a private taxi fromStone Town. Less comfortable, but cheaper, are the numerous matatus - open sided minibuses. These are ubiquitous and will save you a fortune..!
For those seeking more solitude, the island of Pemba is only another boat ride away....
They call Zanzibar the 'Spice Island' because of the exotic fruit and spices they grow and export. You can take a tour around this part of island. You will learn about the spices, get to smell and feel them, as well as taste exotic fruits you have never heard of or seen before. Take, for example, the Jerk fruit. Our guide said to me, "This one tastes like Strawberries and Milk". I said, "No way. If that were true, they'd sell it in Sainsbury's!" But sure enough, it actually did! The down side of it, was that this wonderful tasting fruit has the texture and consistencey of a rotting cabbage!! Zanzibar was a prominent location in the days of the Slave Trade. You can visit the site of the old Slave Market & go underground and see where they were kept until being sold. It will disgust you, but it is an important part of history. We also took a boat ride over to Prisoner Island, only 10 mins away. This is the site of an old prison where naughty slaves were taken for punishment. Also on the island are Giant Tortoises which you can feed spinach to. For those people that are really into their history, you must stay in Stone Town. An old town with wonderful old buildings. You can also see the building that the late, great Freddie Mercury was born in. To the North of the island are the white sand beaches and clear, warm, clean waters that make it a favourite with honeymooners. It's like paradise there. We only stayed for 5 days, as part of our trip around Africa, but you could happily spend two weeks on this small island and have plenty to do. There is an excellent opportunity for scuba diving. A word of warning. This is a 99% Muslim Island. Ladies should dress respectably in public. Also, if you like to sample the pleasures of East Africa's finest beers (e.g. Kilimanjaro lager, Safari lager, Tusker lager. etc.), then check your hotel before booking a
s some don't serve alcohol. I stayed in Tembo House Hotel in Stone Town. I was greeted with a look of disgust when I arrived at 10am and asked for a lager!! This really is a dream destination.
Zanzibar is an island off the African country of Tanzania. On a trip travelling through Africa we stopped there for a few days to relax and just enjoy the weather. This place is really interesting especially the old town which has the most interesting architecture - with the special highlight being the doors. Zanzibar is very Muslim and at the time we visited, it was the time of Ramadan. When the Muslim people fast from the dawn to the setting of the sun. Ramadan is about inner reflection and self control. They abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex. Ramadan lasts for about a month and starts in November. I have mentioned Ramadan as it is a time I do not think people should visit a Muslim country unless they wish to participate in the ceremony. The reason for this is that nothing is open. We found it difficult to organise anything during this period. However we were still able to enjoy the sea, it was actually warmer in the ocean that out of it. Swimming with dolphins - a bit crowded for my tastes. We did try to do a dive but were unlucky. I have been advised though that Zanzibar has some really nice sites. But my favourite thing was the seafood market. You go there at night and there are little stalls with people cooking seafood in all kinds of different way. Most common I think was on a kebab. For a seafood lover it was heaven. So cheap as well. I got to try Marlin. Zanzibar is a beautiful place which we got to by catching the ferry from the Mainland. If you want to visit somewhere away from the main tourist trails I would recommend this. If you want to sight see over the island, hire a 4WD. One other thing I must mention to do is the Spice Tour. Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island because of the range of spices that they used to export from here. You will learn a lot about spices and also about the old slavery trade as on the tour they also talk about this and s
how you where the slaves used to stay. Go and I promise you, you will love it.
"Covered with luxuriant tropical plant life, Zanzibar is a low-lying coral island with elevations no higher than 120 m (400 ft). Zanzibar is the collective name for two islands in Tanzania: Unguja and Pemba. The capital of Zanzibar, located on the island of Unguja, is Zanzibar City. The city's old quarter, known as Stone Town, is a World Heritage Site. Although Zanzibar enjoys a high degree of autonomy, it is not a sovereign state: it remains part of Tanzania. The population of Zanzibar was 981,754 in the 2002 census, and its area is 1,651 km² (637 mi²). Zanzibar's main industries are spices (which include cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper), raffia, and tourism. Zanzibar is also the home of the endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus and the elusive Zanzibar Leopard. The word "Zanzibar" probably derives from the Persian زنگبار, Zangi-bar ("coast of the blacks") and it is known as Zanji-bar in Arabic, also. "Zanzibar" may also refer to the spice ginger (genus Zingiber). "Zanzibar" often refers especially to Unguja Island and is sometimes referred to as the "Spice Islands," though this term is more commonly associated with the Maluku Islands in Indonesia. Pemba Island is the only island apart from Zanzibar that still produces cloves on a major basis which is the primary source of spice income for the islands. Temperatures average between 24º and 27º C (75º and 81º F) throughout the year and are tempered by ocean breezes."