Zanzibar, with its mythical name evokes the old-world Arab charm of a bygone era. 25 miles off the coast of Tanzania, this archipelago in the Indian Ocean is a tourists’ passport to paradise. Trimmed with coconut palms and coral reefs, Zanzibar is bordered with 25 beautiful beaches. You can reach its coast from Dar-e-Salam through sea or air according to your fancy, budget and time.
Location: 25 miles off the coast of Tanzania (Dar e Salam)
Language Spoken: Swahili.
Climate: Sunny & Warm but pleasant due to sea breeze.
Currency: Tanzanian Shilling.
Best time to Visit: December to May.
To Reach: International Flights fly to Dar-e-Salam . Chartered flights or hover-craft can be taken from Dar-e-Salam to Zanzibar.
The Historic Island
Zanzibar Island, known as Unguja by the natives, occupies a total area of approximately 650 sq. miles. Its history dating back to the first century, Zanzibar’s Stone Town is the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. The town’s architecture is awe-inspiring with its two thousand odd stone buildings.
The Heritage Stone Town
UNESCO declared the town as a world heritage site in the year 2000. Walking past its narrow winding alleys with tall buildings on both sides, you might notice curious little boys and girls peeing out of the windows of their homes. Monkeys too are no strangers to this sleepy town. You might hear the echo of ‘Allah ho Akbar’ from its countless mosques.
The Early Dwellers
Ancient in its history, Zanzibar is replete with stories of migration of people from African mainland, Arabia, Persian Gulf, India and beyond. Arab Sultans like Sultan Sayyid Said migrated from Muscat and made Zanzibar their home in the early nineteenth century. His successors continued ruling the city for more than hundred years.
Marvels in Stone
No wonder, they left an indelible mark on the architectural designs of Zanzibar’s Stone Town. Magnificent palaces, huge forts and majestic mosques are their legacy to the city. Beit el Mtoni, the largest palace of Sultan Said, the National Museum and the House of Wonders are some of these marvels in stone.
The Haunting Beach
The Stone Town overlooks the Zanzibar beach, the popular haunt of tourists. One can just laze around on the beach watching the setting sun or view the ships sailing the deep Indian Ocean. To explore the ocean, sail to Nunguri, the Dhow building capital of Zanzibar Island. Its coral reefs are sure to attract diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.
The Spice Tour
Zanzibar is as much known for its spices as for its stone structures and beaches. To inhale the fragrance of plant temptations, undertake the Spice tour. Just outside the town, the tour will take you to the various plantations laid out on acres and acres of land. Name any tree, plant or flower and you will find it in the Spice plantations.
Smell and Buy
Young and enthusiastic guides will show you round the place and also allow you to smell, taste and understand its culinary, cosmetic and medicinal values. If you want to take home fresh spices in packets and attractive hampers for a cheap price, buy them from the natives who sell their wares all along the pathways.
A trip to Zanzibar is to evoke the senses and relive a bygone era of Arab rulers, their lavish lifestyles and romantic pastimes. Taking a holiday to this faraway island in East Africa is to recreate the magic of Arabia with the mystery of Africa in all its natural splendour.