Zanzibar archipelago is located off the coast of Tanzania, and consists of two islands: Unguja and lesser Pemba.
Historically speaking, the islands were Arab-ruled up until the 19th century, used as a major trading hub for exporting slaves and importing spices.
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.
And although it’s a tropical island, the population is conservatively Muslim, so revealing beach gear should be avoided.
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.
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. 😀
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!After arrival, our tour guide recommended we take lunch at a place called Lukman, which had plenty of locally spiced dishes, like this octopus curry. Afterwards I went on a DIY tour through the town, which is the perfect place for getting lost. 🙂The town is a maze of winding alleyways filled with souvenir shops, mosques and random corner stores. Here’s a collection of shots I took walking through the town and the local marketplace.
While 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. ❤
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. ❤
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.
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.
Zanzibar’s number one export is clove, but they also produce cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, peppercorn, lemongrass, turmeric, saffron and vanilla.
The local guys at the plantation also retrieved some coconuts for us to try by climbing up the tree using only a towel! 😮
Then he made us palm frond necklaces, hats, and ties. It looked like prom all over again! 😉
Aside from coconut we also tried some local exotic fruits, like pomelo and a yellow orange.
Our guide Edmund looked like a king gnawing on his pineapple like a giant turkey leg! 😀The tour concluded with the option to purchase the spices, which ranged from 2 to 10 USD.After 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.
We 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.
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. 🙂