Zanzibar: Spice Island
Known as the Spice Island, the beautiful island of Zanzibar on Africa’s east coast is bursting with culture and history, seemingly at odds with its idyllic geography of white-sand beaches with palms swaying lazily in the sea breeze. Together this makes Zanzibar a fabulous place to explore as well as a dream to relax and unwind.
Located just 40 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania and just six degrees south of the equator, Zanzibar Island is referred to locally as ‘Unguja’ and is known internationally as the ‘Spice Island’. An important trading centre of the Indian Ocean region in the nineteenth century the island became famous for spices and fresh produce, and supposedly boasts the sweetest pineapple in the world. The island is characterized by the magic of historic Stone Town and beautiful sandy beaches fringed with coral reefs.
Stone Town is said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa and it is the cultural heart of Zanzibar. Little has changed over the last 200 years. It boasts a labyrinth of walled streets, winding alleys, bustling mosques and grand Arab architecture. You can spend many idle hours simply wandering the streets, shopping at the bazaars and admiring the intriguing elephant-proof doors. Or you could just sit and watch the sun set over a cold beer and a sumptuous seafood feast. If food is your thing, make sure you also check out the brilliant night market that serves traditional local fare. Females should note that Stone Town has a high Muslim population so remember to cover up and bring appropriate clothing.
To the north and east of Zanzibar Island lie the island’s beautiful, isolated beaches with sparkling blue waters and golden sands fringed with palm trees. There are plenty of activity options for you at the beaches. You can go diving, snorkelling, swimming with dolphins or simply relax and take it easy with a massage.
Any visit to Zanzibar would not be complete without a visit to a spice plantation to dazzle the senses with fresh cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper. The sheer number of spices produced and their incredible value for many ailments will fascinate you.
A spice tour is included on all Tucan Travel tours that visit Zanzibar.
A visit to Zanzibar is a rewarding experience with vast natural beauty and a plethora of cultural sights on the itinerary.
Tucan Travel offers 28 Overland group tours that visit Zanzibar year round. The tours either start or end in Dar es Salaam or travel through this area as part of a tour from Kenya in the north or Malawi in the south.
Did You Know?
- Freddy Mercury, the late lead singer of the band Queen, was born in Zanzibar.
- The island had the first steam locomotive in East Africa.
- Stone Town has been designated one of the world’s cultural heritage sites by UNESCO.
- The shortest war in history was fought in Zanzibar in 1896 and lasted two days.
- There are around 560 carved doors in Zanzibar, with the oldest dating back to 1694.