and the Coast

Unwind after your safari and indulge your senses in the tropical paradise of Zanzibar! The main island of Zanzibar (known as Ungunja) and the surrounding islands and atolls of the archipelago are enchanting for their unspoiled tropical beauty, unique cultural richness, and culinary delights. The glorious abundance of unique sea life in the perpetually warm, turquoise Indian Ocean make this destination a diver’s paradise as well. Zanzibar is a romantic oasis full of mystique. Historically, it has been a center of commerce, international diplomacy, a beacon of learning, and a vestibule into Africa for the rest of the world, an island where merchants, traders, missionaries, and explorers dealing in spices and ivory, princes and slaves have visited over the past several centuries. Today, the history of Zanzibar is vibrantly alive in the form of traditional sailing vessels (dhows), carved wooden doors, the narrow, maze-like alleyways between coral stone houses, the scent of lemongrass and cloves, and the smile of the hospitable Zanzibari Swahili people who welcome you to the “Spice Island”. Romance abounds here, as well, in the miles of white sand beaches, stunning accommodations, and sensory pleasures.

You will fall in love with the historically and culturally rich Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heart of the Swahili Coast, this historical center epitomizes the unique culture shaped by East African encounters with Persia, Arabia, India, Portugal, and others through the trade route dating back to ancient times. Marvel at the Islamic architecture. Hear the call to prayer ringing through the air. Get lost in the labyrinthine streets. Follow the enticing smells of spiced coffee, Swahili curries, and fresh seafood grilling on the side of the road. Tour the museums and relics. Learn about the island’s role in the Arabian slave trade. Watch the traditional dhows sailing in and out of port. Visit the vibrant markets peddling the island’s tropical bounty. Dine under torchlight at the most spectacular street food display at Forodhani Gardens Food Market on the seafront. Particularly for the cultural adventurer, we recommend spending two or three days here before heading off to your beachside retreat.

Zanzibar is also known as the “Spice Island”, whose name evokes a romantic past infused with the particular aroma of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and lemongrass. Today, these, and many other spices, herbs, and tropical fruits are cultivated on the same plantations that have been producing them for centuries. A tour of one of these spice plantations starts with a drive through a profusion of greenery in the countryside and follows with a walk through the plantation where you will see and taste a variety of mouth-watering tropical fruits such as: jack fruit, pineapple, banana, green coconut (madafu), durian, love apple (matufaa), litchi (shoki-shoki), sour sop (mabungo), and star fruit (carambola); spices such as cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, and nutmeg. A full tour involves much more than edible plants—you will also have a chance to see the iodine plant, heena bush, ylang-ylang, lipstick tree, cacao, and coffee trees. The tour additionally includes a bit of history with a visit to the Kidichi Persian Baths built in 1850 by Seyyid Said bin Sultan for his Persian wife Princess Sheherezade, granddaughter of the Shah of Persia, and to the Maruhubi Palace Ruins built by the third Sultan of Zanzibar Seyyid Barghash for his 99 concubines. The tour concludes with a sumptuous traditional Swahili meal prepared with many of the spices and fruits you have just sampled. You can also purchase handmade beauty products made with these natural elements.

The most sublime seaside escapes are to be found on the miles of white sand beaches and the isolated islets and atolls of the Zanzibar archipelago. Soak in the warm aquamarine of the Indian ocean. Relax on the beach with your favorite beverage. Snorkel or scuba dive to view the vibrant coral forests beneath the surface. Take a dhow trip island hopping, and have your guides grill delicious fish caught en route for lunch on the beach—or maybe catch your own lunch! Hang in a hammock and sip a freshly cut madafu (young coconut) to the sound of the gently crashing waves. Heaven!

Chumbe Island, with its prominent lighthouse, is the first marine and coral reserve park in Tanzania. On this uninhabited island you can snorkel or dive through one of the most spectacular coral gardens to be found anywhere in the world. Here, you have the opportunity to stay in one of the island’s few unique eco-bungalows  where you can spend your holiday enjoying the most breathtaking views of the vegetation surrounded by the ocean around and learning more about the Zanzibari cultural heritage.

Mnemba Atoll is perhaps the most famous conservation area most coveted diving spots in Zanzibar. Mnemba, consisting of seven by four kilometers of reef, is well-known for encounters with green turtles and common dolphins, its wide variety of corals and associated species. Visibility in Mnemba is usually great, with an average of 10 to 30 meters. Divers should make sure to include a trip to Mnemba on their itinerary.

Another diver’s paradise, Pemba is a quiet, sleepy island with an off-the-grid feel. Historic fishing villages and banana and coconut plantations sparsely pepper the miles of undeveloped, sublime coastline. On the west coast of the island, the sea mountains rise up creating incredible dive walls, drop-offs and rich coral gardens and a variety of colorful fish. Swim with bottlenose and spinner dolphins, paddle the warm shallows, and enjoy being unplugged!

The Mafia Island region, which includes the Rufiji River Delta and Mafia channel, is legendary as a world-class diving destination. This area forms one of the finest complexes of estuarine, mangrove, coral reef, and marine ecosystems in the world, all lying in an area of around 1500km². The coral reefs are especially diverse for all of Eastern Africa. As well, divers have the opportunity to explore the Kuwa ruins and the underground city of Kisimani. Boasting a captivating terrestrial reef and ecosystems, miles of white sand beaches and clear waters, Mafia is a wonderful place to both adventure and experience life at a slower pace.

The name derives from the graves on the island which were built for the soldiers and people who lost their lives in different events. Here you will also get a chance to see the graves of British sailors who fought for the cessation of slavery during 1888. Along is a smallest separate plot where in lies those sailors killed in action when the cruiser H.M.S. Pegasus was destroyed at the harbor by the German warship S.M.S KONIGSBERG.

Prison Island or Changuu Island is the middle island of the three visible from the Stone Town, it takes approximately 30 minutes to get there by boat. The prison on this island was built in 1893, which was later used as a quarantine Hospital, it has a frangipani-lined path around the island where the former patients took their evening walks. Apart from the Prison ruins you can also see the beautiful peacocks and the enormous giant tortoises some of which are over a 100 years old. Sultan Said brought these tortoises here from Seychelles in the 1820’s. Efforts are being made to protect the eggs of the tortoise. The island is a superb scenario for the photographer. A self-walking safari covers the island in 15minutes. On this little paradise one can also swim, snorkel, sunbathe or just relax and enjoy the peacefulness that this beautiful island has to offer.

A highlight of any Zanzibar itinerary includes a dhow safari full of memorable maritime activities with Safari Blue. From the little fishing village of Fumba, just 30 minutes from Stone Town, set sail into Menai Bay where you can glide alongside pods of dolphins, which local conservation efforts have allowed to flourish. Mid-morning, land on a powdery sandbank and enjoy snorkeling in the shallows or bask in the sun under the clear Zanzibari sky, then snorkel over two different reefs, both offering a variety of pristine marine life. After working up an appetite, the Kwale Island “restaurant” is ready and waiting for your arrival where you will feast on a freshly caught seafood buffet. Taste 10-15 of Zanzibar’s exotic fruits, and sip on Amarula and coffee. Mid-afternoon, fdiscover all that Kwale island has to offer: sail on a traditional ngalawa canoe, explore the mangroves, climb an ancient baobab, witness the coral formations, swim or lounge the afternoon away on a day-bed or the beach. Finally, in late afternoon when the day is done, the crew hoists the lateen sail as you make a leisurely voyage back to Fumba as the sun sets on your glorious day in paradise.

A 40 minute drive from Zanzibar town, this trip leads you through the Mangapwani cave, a historically significant remnant of the Arabian slave trade. Although the Zanzibar slave market was officially closed in June of 1873, the cave was used through 1911 as a secret hideout from which African captives were illegally led out to sea through a secret passage and then transported by dhow to the Arabian peninsula for sale. The tour proceeds to Nungwi in the north of Zanzibar, an hour’s drive from the cave. Nungwi has crystal clear waters, an excellent place for diving, snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing. As Zanzibar is a turtle conservation area, you will be able to see the natural turtle aquarium here. During this tour we also take you to a site where local villagers build dhows and boats using traditional tools and methods.

The trip from Stone Town to this traditional fishing village takes 30 minutes, usually with a stop at Jozani Forest Reserve (see below). Kizimkazi fishing village is the home of several pods of bottle-nosed dolphins. Here you are taken by boat out the sea to view the dolphins and, if lucky, swim quite close to them, as they are very friendly and playful. Kizimkazi is also the site of 12th Century Mosque, the earliest evidence of Islam in East Africa.

Jozani tropical rainforest (Jozani Chakwa Bay National Park) lies 35 kilometers southeast of Stone Town with an area of about 1,000 hectares. Long ago, you could find leopards and antelopes that are now reported extinct. At present, you will find primates such as the indigenous red colobus monkey, the blue Sykes monkey, and the adorable bush baby. The red colobus monkey is one of the most endangered and rarest species in the world. They are very friendly creatures, love to be photographed, and can be viewed at close quarters with the help of your guide. You are also likely to see some of the 50 butterfly species, 40 bird species, and several species of snake. Other interesting features of this ecosystem include the coastal evergreen bush land, mangrove forest, saline grassland, and ground water forest. As a reserve area, the forest also contains nurseries which help to preserve the tree species in the forest.

This trip, approximately 45 minutes from Stone Town, tours the unspoiled east coast, which boasts kilometers and kilometers of soft white sandy beaches surrounded by hundreds of palm trees and beautiful fringing coral reefs a short distance from the beach. Here you can spend the day swimming, snorkeling, diving or windsurfing in these tranquil waters. You can also spend your holiday in one of the hotels of the East coast and enjoy the golden sunrise from the beautiful ocean.