Spice Island Archipelago of Zanzibar
Zanzibar is part of the Spice Island Archipelago just off the Tanzanian coast in the Indian Ocean. From Dar es Salaam, Tz it is just a 15-minute flight and about 1.5 hours by ferry to arrive they are at its main town, Stone Town. Its peoples and their culture are a blend of Arabian, Indian and African influences. The Spice Island Archipelago includes Zanzibar, Mafia, and Pemba islands. Each island has its own unique flora and fauna, aquatic life, birds, primates, and histories. The fertile plantations on the Spice Island Archipelago produces over 90% of the worlds cloves along with nutmeg, turmeric, vanilla, hot chili peppers, black pepper, cinnamon, saffron, ginger, coconut, coffee. Visitors can visit plantations and sample its smells and flavors.
The history of Zanzibar can be traced back prior to the times of colonialism. The Portuguese began occupying Zanzibar in the late 15th century. Traders of slaves found a harbor in Zanzibar where slaves, ivory, and spices could be transported from Zanzibar to the Far East and India. This was followed by merchants from Oman and other parts of the Middle East who moved their families to Zanzibar after establishing their administrative offices there once the Sultan of Oman moved to Zanzibar in the late 17th century. During this period, Stone Town became its main city.
Zanzibar Culture and Natural Highlights
The beauty of Zanzibar is fueled by the hospitality of its people. Evidence of its Arabic culture roots is everywhere. This includes its Arabic style architecture, its mosques, the Arabic language, clothing, and general way of life. Most of the people farm coconut and cloves, which are mainly the economic cash crops for foreign exchange. Travel to Zanzibar is highly rewarding. You will visit spice plantations where you will see cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg growing. Zanzibar travel also includes various historical sites sand unique forests.
When traveling to Zanzibar today, you will first enter Stone Town, the main city on the island with a charm that attracts visitors to its historic locations, plantations, and beaches. It is a relaxing center in a tropical climate that offers various activities such as Swahili fishing villages, snorkeling, and diving. Zanzibar is mainly composed of various islands but its two major islands are Ungula and Pemba. Many visitors to Pemba appreciate its luxurious accommodations.
Recreational Activities and Main Features
Zanzibar is part of the Spice Island Archipelago, a chain of islands that also includes Pemba, Mafia, Ungula and other smaller islands. Traveling to Zanzibar is highly rewarding, as visitors can go to cultural sites as well as spice plantations where cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, black pepper, lemon grass, coconut and other spices grow. In addition to shopping, visitors can enjoy recreational water sports such as snorkeling, skin diving, swimming with dolphins, boating, and fishing. The Spice Island Archipelago also has aquatic conservation areas, such has turtle reserves, and tourists can visit.
Jozani Forest Reserve
Jozani Forest is located 21 miles from Stone Town in southeastern Zanzibar, covering six square miles. Within it are fascinating trees such as mangrove, spices and diverse species including the blue monkeys, red colobus monkeys, bush pigs, chameleons , and Adders dikers. What makes the Jozani Forest unique is its specific combination of fauna and flora living together, making it one of the last remaining eco-cultures of its kind in the world.
Dolphin Tour and Swimming with the Dolphins
Dolphins’ migrate along Zanzibar’s Indian Ocean coastline and visitors can watch them from boats and swim alongside them wearing snorkel gear.
Canoeing safaris allow tourists to go beyond the reach of motorized vehicles. Accompanied by guides who direct and control the canoe, visitors can see unusual aquatic flora and fauna up close that are seldom seen, due to their inaccessibility.
Another memorable experience is cruising around the island on a dhow, a traditional wooden vessel with one large sail that carried merchandise between Zanzibar, Arabia and India by trade winds dating back millennia.
Bwejuu Beach is located in the heart of Zanzibar known for its white sands, beautiful scenery and aquatic sports activities.
Jambiani is not highly developed, which accounts for its charm. Activities include shopping at its local markets where merchants sell handcrafts, visiting its spiritual forest where supplicants pray during religious pilgrimages, and learning how local residents use herbs to treat skin diseases and stomach ailments. It is an ideal place to experience the Swahili culture and ecotourism sites. Visitors can walk safely along its scenic beach.
Kiwengwa is located on the northeast coast of Zanzibar. It is ideal for water sports due to its unique annual moderately warm climate. Its attractions include pristine scenic views, indented coastline, and sandy beaches.
Mangapwani is located in northern Zanzibar about 9 miles from Stone Town. Its main attraction is coral caves formed naturally through narrow entrances. Its historic significance is in its preserved slave caves where slavers hid slaves after slavery was abolished (1873) and secretly sold in foreign slave markets.
Changu, known as Prison Island, can be reached by boat from Stone Town. The name Prison Island came from Arab slavers sending the feistier slaves there from Zanzibar so they could not escape before being sold. It is also known for its large tortoises, which cannot be found anywhere else in Africa. Its trees attract exotic birds, making it a great place for birding. Tourists can walk safely anywhere on the island and enjoy swimming, snorkeling, fishing and other water sports as well as relax while viewing Changu’s beautiful scenic coastline and sandy beaches.’