Zanzibar Island


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Zanzibar, the spice island, whose name leads your thoughts to tropical surroundings, exotic fruits and spices, legendary sultans, palaces, harems and adventures taken from 1001 nights. The history of Zanzibar is fascinating. For thousands of years it has been a central trade center for Portuguese, Arabs, Egyptians and Phoenixes. In the 17th century, the Arabs of Oman came to power, and imported spices to Zanzibar and it’s neighboring island Pemba, making  these two islands the worlds greatest exporters of spices. The slave trade contributed further to Zanzibar’s importance, and by the 1830′s, Zanzibar’s influence was so strong that the sultan of Oman decided to move his entire staff from Oman to Zanzibar.

In the same period, famous missionaries and discoverers came to the island in order to buy supplies and hire porters, and to get permission from the sultan to continue their travels into the unknown Africa. The most distinguished, David Livingstone, did not have high thoughts of the people of Zanzibar. His impression of them was that they were lazy, not willing to do much more than eat, get drunk and sleep. He came up with another name for the island,” Stinkibar”, due to the poor sanitary conditions.

In 1964, the sultan was thrown out of power by a blood shredding revolution, and the same year the island went in to union with the mainland, Tanganyika, and formed the united republic of Tanzania with the late Mr. Julius Nyerere of the CCM party as the President. Zanzibar has its own parliament which controls the island. In the past years, people are expressing their wish for a different ruling system within the union, with 3 separate parliaments for Zanzibar, Tanganyika and Tanzania, and we remain to see what will happen. The opposition is strong in the coastal areas and the islands, but so far the CCM is still ruling.

Stone Town: The main attraction here is without a doubt the old Arabic area. Stroll around the narrow streets with old architecture, which is characteristic for the Swahili towns on the East African coast. Though fascinating and interesting, Stone Town is not worth spending all you time in. After getting the feel of the town and visiting the attractions, the next thing you should do is to head up along the coast, find your own paradise and relax for a while.  A range of budget hotels and luxury lodges are set up along the coast, where you can enjoy white sand,  gentle waves, fishing villages, swimming with dolphins and coral reefs. Most hotels organize snorkeling, diving and boat trips among others. The best time to visit Zanzibar is between June and mid March, with the hottest months from January. From Dar es Salaam you can take an express boat to Stone Town, the trip takes about 1.5 hours. The flight from Dar es Salaam takes 25 minutes, from Arusha the flight takes 1 hour.

Spice tours – Muscat, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, ginger and other spices and fruits so exotic that they don’t have an English name,  can be explored in the many plantations.

The slave chambers – The underground slave chambers in Mangapwani was the center of the illegal slave trade up until 1909.

Persian baths – On the highest point of the island, Kidichi, the sultan Sayyind Said built Persian baths in 1850, one for him and one for his wife. They are still in a good condition with splendid Persian architecture, so a visit here will be more than worth your time.

Prison Island – In the middle of this island,  you will find the remains of an old prison built in 1893. Half an hour by boat, you pay a modest fee to enter the island, which is ideal for snorkeling and watching giant turtles, imported from the Seychelles at the end of the century.

Jozani Forest – The only remaining natural forest on Zanzibar, where the rare red guerexa monkeys habituate. The best time to go to Jozani is in the early morning hours, when the monkeys are active.

Swimming with dolphins – Taking place in the southern part of the island, the boat ride is long, and you are not guaranteed to find dolphins, but when you finally do, and if you get the chance to join them in the water, it will be an extraordinary experience.

Deep sea fishing – Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia are excellent islands for sports fishing. Do as Ernest Hemingway and catch sailfish, mackerel, kingfish and marlin among others.

Diving – Coral reefs, tropical fish and clear water make this area ideal for scuba diving. Take a diving course, get your certificate and jump in the Indian Ocean.

Sailing and water sports – Windsurfing and sailing are popular activities, and can be organized many places.

ZIFF – The Zanzibar International Film Festival was established in 1997 to promote the art and culture of the Dhow region. The Dhow region consists of the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian sub-continent, Asia, Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.

From Tourist
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