In the East coast of Africa just an hour’s speedboat ride away from the economic capital of Tanzania lays a jewel. This is a focal point that brings together a wealth of tradition and modernity, where there is a harmonious marriage of European, American, Arabian, Indian, Persian and African history and way of life that spans back to so many centuries. Zanzibar is a land of mysticism and beauty. Zanzibar evokes the spirit of romance and mystery, painting a romantic colorful history of hospitality that you will find nowhere else in the world. Zanzibar has been described as a place where:
“Earth, sea and sky, all seemed wrapped in a soft and sensuous repose’ – mysterious
Zanzibari’s Historical Facts
But did you know the below historical facts about Zanzibar?
- Vasco Da Gama visited Zanzibar in 1499 on his return voyage from India
- Seyyid Said bin Sultan transferred his capital from Oman to Zanzibar in 1832
- The shortest war in history was in Zanzibar in 1896 by the British
- House o wonders erected in 1883 was the first largest building in East Africa
- The marble pillars at the slave market cathedral were erected upside down and still stands so as a result of Bishop Steere’s (the master builder) absence.
Zanzibar is a perfect destination for an African beach vacation or a honeymoon holiday in Africa. There are those who would like to enjoy a Zanzibar holiday after a grueling, fun filled Kenya Safari or an amazing Tanzania safari or after conquering great heights by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. While lying in the white pristine Zanzibar beaches might be quite inviting, you shall have missed a lot if you don’t take a Zanzibar tour to:
Stone town is Zanzibar’s historical andcultural nerve centre. A walk through the narrow alleys leads past ornately decorated of unique architecture and intricately designed doors. This is a summarized journey through history dating back to the 15th century to date that made Stone Town a UNESCO world heritage site. Among things to be seen in Stone town include:
- Famous slave market where the Anglican church of Christ stands
- House of Wonders (Beit el Ajaib)
- Old English Club
- Tippu Tip’s House
- Dr. David Livingstone House
- Colourful market and local curio shops
A 20 minutes drive out of town and you will be at the spice plantations. Here one smells, tastes and see how various spices and fruits are grown. Some of this includes nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and clove. It is as a result of the many spices that Zanzibar is rightfully referred to as ‘The Spice Island’. Vanilla, the seasonal Jackfruit, start fruit, lychee and dorian are some of the fruits found in Zanzibar.
Prison Island (Changuu Island)
Prison Island is just a short boat ride away on the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The island was formerly owned by an Arab who used it privately as a detention site for recalcitrant slaves. It was later bought by General Mathews who in 1893 built a gaul that still stand as a central prison for Zanzibar, hence the name ‘Prison Island’. The prison was however never used. The main attractions at Prison Island are the endangered giant tortoise and peacocks. This is also a perfect site for snorkeling, sun bathing or swimming.
Menai Bay off Fumba Village
Fumba village is located west of Zanzibar and at this point one after being given a life jacket demonstration and a brief will board the dhow and set off to the Menai Bay in search of Dolphins. There are 2 dolphin species at Menai that include:
- Spinner Dolphin
- Bottlenose Dolphin
Swimming with the dolphins is allowed as long as you stay close to the dhow though touching them is not allowed. Other activities that can be done around this area include snorkeling. It is important to note that you can also experience the dolphins at Kazimkazi that also hosts the islands oldest mosque built in 1107 AD.
Mangapwani hosts the slave caves which were built in 1880 and connected to the seaside. The area is surrounded by indigenous trees that include the Rambo tan, and breadfruits as well as scenty shrubs. Mangapwani was an important transit point for captured slaves that were to be sold to the rest of the world in 1873 when the trade was abolished. Mangapwani was used from 1880 to 1905 as a place to conceal human cargo before being disposed to work elsewhere.
Now you know what to do when on an Africa beach holiday to Zanzibar. Life at the beach is not only about sun and sand but adventure, discover and explore.