A Quick tour of Zanzibar Island
Article by Ian Williamson
Zanzibar is an archipelago of over 50 islands with the largest two being Zanzibar Island and Pemba Islands. Zanzibar is only 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast and reached by high speed ferry or flights from Dar es Salaam and Arusha in the north. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja) is relatively small [60 miles long and 20 miles wide].
The entry point and port of Stone Town may not have the most romantic name but is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, with little changing over the past 200 years. It is a place of narrow winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners competed with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. This one-upmanship is reflected in the huge, carved, wooden doors decorated with brass studs. It is possible to spend hours just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.
Spice Plantations are a part of Zanzibar a trip to the island would be incomplete without a tour of the plantations that grow cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and many other spices which brought the Sultans of Oman [and the beginnings of the infamous slave trade].
The Jozani Natural Forest Reserve is located in the central east region of Zanzibar Island and is home to the rare Red Colobus Monkey. They can also be seen at very close quarters just outside the reserve’s perimeter and are incredibly photogenic. Jozani is home to other species including Syke’s monkeys, small buck and bush pigs.
Tours to the unspoilt north coast usually end up at Nungwi fishing village on the northern tip of Zanzibar Island – approached by a road lined by banana palms, mangroves and coconut trees – it is the dhow building capital of Zanzibar. Here you will be able to see the traditional methods of dhow construction in action. This area of Zanzibar has some fantastic beaches and nearby coral reefs which are ideal for diving and snorkeling.
Prison Island once the site of a jail for unruly slaves, lies just off Stone Town. It is fringed with a beautiful coral reef, ideal for snorkeling, and has a lovely white beach for sun-bathing. It is also home to a family of giant tortoises.
The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise with a sprinkling of picturesque fishing villages. There are more than twenty-five fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, and some are so peaceful and remote that the only noise breaking the silence is the ocean.
Zanzibar [along with its sister island of Pemba] is reputed to have some of the best diving in the world, there is good visibility (20 – 60 meters) and a year-round average water temperature of 27°c ensure that you enjoy your Zanzibar diving experience.
Diving in Zanzibar isn’t restricted to beginners. Experienced scuba divers can enjoy exciting wall dives, night dives and drift dives. In deeper waters, lush coral gardens often stretch as far as the eye can see, and large game fish (barracuda, kingfish, tuna and wahoo) hunt together with large Napoleonic wrasse, graceful manta rays and sharks. Shallower waters are the playground of tropical fish, including a huge variety of Indo-Pacific marine fauna.
About the Author
Tanzania is an exciting place to visit and offers more than Kilimanjaro and the Game Safari Circuits for more information look at http://www.tanzania-info.co.uk and http://www.betheladventure.co.uk – use tourism to change lives.