Zanzibar is known throughout the world as the jewel of the Indian Ocean and has a romantic, colorful history of seafarers and explorers, of riches and tragedy and the dark stain of slavery. Once the trading center of the whole of East Africa, Zanzibar attracted Sumerians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Arabs, Chinese and Malays. The great explorers, Burton, Speke, Livingstone and Krapf continued their journeys from these shores.
A walk through the narrow, twisting streets of Stone Town plunges you into the past. The houses here are over 150 years old and are constructed from the islandís coral stone. Built by Arab and Indian merchants in the nineteenth century, this is the only functioning historical city in East Africa.
A spice tour is a specialty of Zanzibar and involves a walk in the western and central regions of the island through plantations, private gardens and forests. There are over 50 different spices and fruit, such as cinnamon, pepper, pimentos, ginger, tamarind, coffee, ylang-ylang, coco and sugar cane. Coconuts are another main product of the archipelago. The East coast of Zanzibar Island is ideal for those who wish to get away from it all. Picturesque villages fringe white beaches and crystal clear waters.
Ruins of Zanzibar
convey something of the mystery, intrigue and exoticism of the islandís past and they are well worth a visit.
In the north of Zanzibar, the Mtoni Palace, accommodating 1000 people, was built in the 19th century by an Arab merchant. What remains today is the courtyard with a row of stone baths and the aqueduct that supplied water to the house.
The Maruhubi Palace was built between 1870 and 1888 by sultan Barghash for his harem. It burned down in 1899 and only a few rooms and arches remain.
Built by Sultan Sayyid Said for his second wife at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Persian Baths of Kidichi are a remarkably preserved series of domed bathhouses with deep stone baths and massive seats.
The shiraz Ruins on Tumbatu Island are those of a large ancient town dating from the 12th century that contain 40 stone houses.
The Dunga Ruins are on the main road heading out of Zanzibar town towards Chwaka. The palace that once stood here was built by the last and most feared of a long line of chiefs.
Is located to the south east of Zanzibar town. It is the last remaining ground water forest in Unguja and contains many rare species of flora and fauna including the endemic Red Colobus monkey and Blue Sykes monkey. Interestingly, you can get quite close to these monkeys making observation and photography very easy.
Islands off Zanzibar
There are tiny deserted islands a few kilometers off the western tip of Zanzibar town. Changuu or Prison Island, was owned by an Arab who used it to imprison slaves. A prison was built there in 1893 but was never used. The ruins can still be seen. Grave Island is famous for its beautiful beaches, swimming, snorkeling and sun bathing. The Island also has been used as a Christian commentary for many years. Others include Bat Island and Snake Island which are not frequented by visitors!