Zanzibar Island: Stone Town and Spice Tour

Zanzibar archipelago is located off the coast of Tanzania, and consists of two islands: Unguja and lesser Pemba.

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Zanzibar port in Unguja

Historically speaking, the islands were Arab-ruled up until the 19th century, used as a major trading hub for exporting slaves and importing spices.

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church in Stone Town once used as a slave market

For this reason, there is notable Middle Eastern influence in both the architecture and culture of this area, which is now nicknamed, the spice islands.

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architecture in Stone Town
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Middle Eastern windows

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And although it’s a tropical island, the population is conservatively Muslim, so revealing beach gear should be avoided.

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women dressed in conservative clothing

Also, interestingly enough, it was only united with Tanzania about 50 years ago, and even with this union, tourists entering Zanzibar from Tanzania sill need to go through a separate immigration process, and get a new stamp in their passport.

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the Tanzanian flag now flies in Zanzibar

The trip to Zanzibar Island was an optional excursion with Absolute Africa. It cost 190 USD, which included a round-trip ferry ticket, four nights of accommodation with breakfast, and a local spice tour. Before heading to Zanzibar, we spent two nights in Dar es Salaam, a bustling port city near the coast, where we got our first taste of the island life. 😀IMG_20170207_180720_282

From there we took a two-hour ferry ride to Stone Town on Ungjua. While in Stone Town we stayed at Safari Lodge. The rooms were comfortable, and we had air conditioning for the first time in a month. Yes, please!42031292After arrival, our tour guide recommended we take lunch at a place called Lukman, which had plenty of locally spiced dishes, like this octopus curry. octopus-in-coconut-curryAfterwards I went on a DIY tour through the town, which is the perfect place for getting lost. 🙂DSC_0136The town is a maze of winding alleyways filled with souvenir shops, mosques and random corner stores. DSC_0098DSC_0132DSC_0102DSC_0105Here’s a collection of shots I took walking through the town and the local marketplace.DSC_0135

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mango
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plum and blueberry
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barbecue chicken
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local transport ❤

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old sewing machines where cats were playing around

DSC_0106DSC_0131DSC_01192017-02-12 04.24.09DSC_0114DSC_0100DSC_0112DSC_0097While meandering through the alleyways, everyone was waving to me and yelling, ‘jambo’ or ‘hello.’ I also passed a local Sufi drumming band where kids were dancing and playing in the streets. ❤DSC_0138

While I walked around, other people in our group decided to visit a local tortoise sanctuary to spend time with these ancient beauties on Changuu Island. ❤16603055_10154130643801426_5252632164259389519_n

In the evening we all meet up again to watch the sunset at a hotel called Africa House before grabbing beers at a posh rooftop bar, Maru Maru.drinksDSC_0140DSC_0149

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the view from Africa House at sunset

Now since the island is well-known for its spices, the next morning we went to a local plantation to see where the spices are grown.

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this is breadfruit, which is boiled and cooked into a porridge for breakfast, spiced with cinnamon and sugar ❤

Zanzibar’s number one export is clove, but they also produce cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, peppercorn, lemongrass, turmeric, saffron and vanilla.

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pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, breadfruit, vanilla, lemongrass, clove, nutmeg,

The local guys at the plantation also retrieved some coconuts for us to try by climbing up the tree using only a towel! 😮

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serious tree climbing skills!

Then he made us palm frond necklaces, hats, and ties. It looked like prom all over again! 😉fruithsat

Aside from coconut we also tried some local exotic fruits, like pomelo and a yellow orange.fruits

Our guide Edmund looked like a king gnawing on his pineapple like a giant turkey leg! 😀DSC_0191The tour concluded with the option to purchase the spices, which ranged from 2 to 10 USD.DSC_0187After the tour we took lunch at a local’s house, which was included in the 10 USD tour. They served potato curry, goat meat with rice, pickled vegetable salad and fried chapati bread.

DSC_0158lunchWe relaxed in their living room and ate our meal on wicker floor mats, which felt very authentic. The family was also very kind, and served us melon and mango at the end of our meal.lunch2
From there we headed north, where we would spend three days at  the luxurious Kendwa Beach. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then. 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Zanzibar Island: Stone Town and Spice Tour

  1. Wow Megan it sure would be wonderful to have all those fresh spices available in your backyard. I bet the food is very flavorful. It seems like Africa sure has many hidden treasures. Thanks for sharing your many experiences. Again I’m traveling vicariously with you! 😊continued wonderful and safe travels…miss you… Love,
    Kim

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    1. Hi Kim!

      Yes, the curries are very flavorful, and not too spicy either. I’ve also been incredibly impressed with how diverse these countries are. There are so many beautiful places here I never knew existed! Thanks for checking out the post. Miss you guys and see you soon! ❤ 45 days to go! 🙂

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  2. Wow..We so happy,you having fun in East Africa..and as Discover East Africa we shall ensure people who also aren’t aware of such places existed, get informed, through out tourism promotion blog Discover East Africa blog. Thank you Mega for sharing your experience, we are so humbled for that .Enjoy your other 45 days. wish you also try Dar es salaam in those 45days of yours,Megan,at least two to three days..Its also fun and good food too

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