What’s the best way to wrap up your Tanzania safari or Kilimanjaro trek? By spending more time in Africa, of course. After an adventure in the African bush or on the mountain, head to the archipelago of Zanzibar for a breathtaking mix of sand, seacoast, and ancient alleyways. A short flight from the mainland brings you to this coastal paradise on the equator where you can relax on pristine beaches, opt for outdoor recreation, or visit plantations that were once the hub of the global spice trade.
The silky, white sand beaches of Zanzibar are legendary, but there’s more to do than simply soak in the sun.
- Dive into the Indian Ocean for world-class snorkeling on the east coast of the island. You’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the extensive barrier reef and tidal lagoons that are home to an abundance of colorful marine life.
- For more active pursuits go kayaking or learn to kite surf.
- The archipelago offers excellent deep-sea fishing. The waters between Zanzibar and Pemba are home to excellent year round game fishing opportunities, while August through November is the best time for Yellowfin Tuna or Blue Marlin.
- Explore the Jozani, a small forest located in the interior of the island, home to indigenous red colobus monkeys.
A maze of narrow streets, reminiscent of the Middle East or North Africa, the island’s main hub is an UNESCO World Heritage site with a storied history that blends East African, Indian, Arab and European influences.
During your walk around the town, stop for a moment to marvel at the details of the intricately carved wooden doors dating back to the 19th century – many of which are older than the houses they adorn. You’ll spot two main types: Indian influenced architecture featuring arched entryways with large brass spikes, and Arab designs which tend to be rectangle in shape with massive geometric patterns.
Take in the island sounds of taarab, a musical fusion of Swahili, Arab and Indian influence that gained prominence in the mid-19th century when it was played in the sultan’s court. This mesmerizing mix of melodic Swahili poetry set to the rhythm of a full orchestra of strings and woodwinds, including a nay (an Arabian flute), can be enjoyed at local clubs and hotel lounges.
Soak in the history of Zanzibar with a visit to the largest building of Stone Town, the House of Wonders (Beit-al-Ajaib), now a museum. Or visit the Palace Museum, Dr. Livingstone’s House, and the Arab Fort, among others.
Opt for guided tours of spice plantations, an integral part of the island’s rise to prominence. Learn how the once rare spices such as cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla and cloves came to be supermarket staples, and how these precious morsels influenced oceanic exploration and world history.