FUN IN THE SUN IN THE ZANZIBAR ARCHIPELAGO
These Indian Ocean islands are a great way to end a safari. Zanzibar is made up of two main islands (Unguja and Pemba) and a number of smaller islands. There are miles and miles of sandy beaches and beautiful turquoise waters inviting you in.
Spend your days either relaxing at the beach under the palm trees or include a few excursions. You may want to go snorkelling with dolphins; watch fishing boats in the Indian Ocean, visit a spice farm and learn how nutmeg and cloves grow; wander through Stone Town admiring the artisan doors and historic Old Fort, or visit Changuu (Prison) Island and see the giant Aldabra Tortoises. Or just sit in one of the many restaurants looking out over the beach and enjoy the sun setting over the water.
There is something for everyone in Zanzibar. Photographers will delight in the visual feast. Children will enjoy the many hands-on activities (explore a spice farm, visit Butterfly World, feed the Red Colobus monkeys or the giant Adebra Tortoises). Honeymooners will discover the most romantic setting imaginable. Those interested in culture and history will enjoy exploring the Old Fort, learning about the history of the slave trade on Zanzibar, and exploring Stone Town with its Swahili and Islamic influences. Artists will enjoy the carved doors found throughout Stone Town; each one unique and creative. Foodies will enjoy their seafood freshly caught, as well as tours of the spice farms. Almost anyone will be entranced by the night market at the Forodhani Gardens. And don’t miss the mangrove forests or the lovely warm ocean that invites you in.
Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, which is well worth exploring. Walking tours are available or you can simply wander to your heart’s content. You will find food available throughout Stone Town (see where the locals are eating for a tasty meal), as well as artists selling their wares. You can buy paintings, jewelry, carvings, cloth, spices, and almost anything you can imagine. Bartering is expected, and part of the fun!
Food and shopping alone do not a World Heritage Centre make. Visit the Old Fort, the House of Wonders (what is still standing; it partially collapsed in 2020), and the Hamamni Persian Baths. Pause for a moment at the Slave Monument, and visit the Livingstone House (home of David Livingstone and now headquarters to the Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture). Admire architectural details which reflect the influences of many different cultures over the years, and, in particular, check out the Zanzibari doors.
Day Trips: Spice Farms, Mnemba Atoll Snorkeling and more…
Zanzibar day trips are colorful. Whether you visit a spice farm and learn about how nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, ginger root, cocoa and many other spices are grown, or do a snorkelling tour on Mnemba Island (3 km off the coast of Unguja) and see the colorful world underwater, including Moorish idols, clownfish, anemones, starfish in all colors, sunburst butterflyfish, and sometimes even green turtles, you will be amazed by the vivid tropics that surround you.
You can also visit Jozani Chawkwa National Forest and see the red Colobus monkeys, which live only on Zanzibar, and then stop off at the nearby Zanzibar Butterfly Centre to see hundreds of butterfly species that are native to the Zanzibar archipelago. While at Jozani Park, you can wander through the mangrove forest and learn about this unique habitat.
Changuu (or Prison) Island: Giant Aldabra Tortoises
An easy boat ride from Stone Town takes you to Changuu (or Prison) Island. Changuu was used as a prison for rebellious slaves in the 1860s as part of Zanzibar’s infamous slave trade. Later a prison was built on the island but never used to house prisoners. In the early part of the 20th century, Changuu became a quarantine island for all the British territories in East Africa. Today it is home to the giant Aldabra tortoises, which visitors can admire and feed.
Just five kilometres from Zanzibar, it is easy to get a boat over to Changuu and back throughout the day. Changuu is one of the few locations where the giant tortoises (some of the world’s longest-lived animals) can be found. After visiting the tortoises, you can also snorkel or swim in the brilliant turquoise waters near Changuu.