Warm 365 days of the year, and constantly alive with the smell of log burning fires and freshly harvested spices, Zanzibar is a place to go to to get happy and forget the hum of the super highways and 9 til 5 days back at home. This is a place of ‘pole pole’ (slowly slowly) and if you move to fast someone will tell you to relax.
After trogging -meaning: one who trawls the world while blogging- about the Klein Karoo in South Africa in my last blog post, this week I’m taking you many miles north to Equatorial Africa to the islands of Zanzibar!
Where is it?
Zanzibar is a few places rather than just one. It sits mere degrees under the equator and has several small islands and some more well-known larger ones: Zanzibar Island and Pemba Island.
The islands are found on the right hand side of Africa off its host port country, Tanzania, which is only 30km away from Tanzania but is not considered a part of the country as it has its own government.
Catch a flight to the Dar es Salaam International airport; after this you can catch a taxi or bus to the sea port which will transfer you by ferry to Zanzibar Island where further travel can be arranged.
Surrounded by Indian Ocean water, these islands are made up of white, powder soft sand beaches, turquoise and azure warm water, and flaming red, yellow, purple – and a hundred colors in between – coral reefs which play host to schools of tropical fish and mild tempered predators of the sea.
Visitors can choose from snorkeling to scuba diving, fishing to speed boats and everything in between for a fun water activity. The water stays an average of 27 degrees and underwater visibility extends as far as 60 meters.
You’ll see underwater life such as yellow fin tuna, bill fish, hammerhead and tiger sharks along with many little colored exotic fish and crawling crustaceans.
Zanzibar’s main city, Stone Town is considered a historic point and has even been named as a world heritage site with its Persian trading history.
It is the home to: the Livingstone House built in 1860 for a sultan, it was later home to missionaries and explorers as well as a research center for clove production – a spice grown on the island. Here you will also see the Guliani Bridge and the House of Wonders. Kidichi, another town of Zanzibar hosts the ancient and fully intact Hamamni Persian Baths.
This is a great place to get beautifully packaged fresh spices and incense. Feelings of old Persian trade are still felt amongst the markets found between the beautiful old buildings and trinkets and seashells are in abundance for gift ideas for those you left back at home.
This island sustains the survival of resident giant tortoises which are used to tourists feeding them local fruit and are not adverse to you climbing on for a very slow ride around their living space.
You’ll go here if you want to know more about the exiled Tanganyika prisoners who were sent to a prison built on the island. Due to a serious outbreak of Yellow Fever (you’ll have to get the vaccination if you want to visit Zanzibar) it was turned into a quarantine center soon after it was built but now only serves as home to the giant tortoises.
What to take
My list includes:
- The best sunscreen you can find – apply continually as it will be perspired and swept off on land and sea
- A handful of the local currency – you are likely to find lots of well priced mementos here so don’t forget to take a little money but do watch your bag as there are pickpockets. You can change your foreign currency into shillings at the airport
- Antiseptic cream – if you scrape yourself on coral you can get quite a rash so you’ll need this to keep any wounds germ free
Make sure that you pay attention to tide warnings before swimming and ask the locals about the best swimming spots. I was tumbled into a field of underwater sea urchins after being too hasty and had to be rushed to the clinic to have their black, toxic spines painstakingly removed.
Dress appropriately to show respect to the many cultures that inhabit the islands; show gratitude for their welcoming and helpful demeanor and you will have a wonderful holiday on more than one tropical island.
Have you been to Zanzibar? Tell us about your tropical holiday in the comments section below!