Its very name evokes romantic associations – smell of spices, images of narrow streets, Arab chests, carved doors, coral reefs. It is a tourists paradise, with tranquil, warm tropical waters, many miles of beautiful sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean. Zanzibar has a rich and ancient past, having been the center for travelers sailing from distant lands of the Middle East by dhows. Zanzibar was once the main trading center for the whole of East Africa. Due to the generally slower pace of life, its tranquility has survived. Zanzibar’s lasting mystique has attracted travelers from around the world for centuries. In past generations ivory, slaves and spices were transported on large wooden sailing Dhows across the world. Although spices remain a main export, Zanzibar’s main attraction is its beauty and the contrasting coasts of this magical Spice Island.
PLACES TO VISIT IN ZANZIBAR
SPICE TOUR: As the name suggest this is a tour to some wonderful gardens and farms around the island containing exotic and endemic spice and fruit trees. Many of these have medicinal properties and are still commonly used. The visitor can taste a variety of fruits from rose apple to guava, carambola to tamarind! Savor different spices in their most aromatic state: cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, black pepper and many others.
The Spice Tour also includes stops at historical monuments which are not in the Stone Town: the Maruhubi Palace ruins and the Kidichi Persian baths. Most importantly the visitor will see much more of this lush, tropical island and learn a great deal about the climate and agriculture and the lives of the STONE TOWN TOUR: Among the selected places visited are:
THE CENTRAL MARKET (built in 1904) – the busiest place in town here fish, fruits, vegetables, and spices are sold seven days a week. It is fascinating to watch the ‘shamba’ lorries – trucks with locally-constructed wooden bodies – being loaded and unloaded ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL (1874) Zanzibar was the hub of the slave trade in East Africa, until 1873 when it was abolished. On this site now stands a church.
NATIONAL MUSEUM (opened in 1925) Here can be found a collection of portraits of past Sultans and their documents, and relics of early explorers – including Dr. Livingstone’s medicine chest and local arts and crafts.
TIPPU TIP’S HOUSE – with its outstanding carved door; the residence of Africa’s most notorious ivory and slave trader
BEIT-AL-AJAIB- House of Wonders (1883) – Sultan Barghash’s fabulous palace on the seafront Admired for its high ceilings and towering pillars, this used to be the Sultans Palace until 1911.
PORTUGUESE FORT – the oldest structure in the Stone Town
DR LIVINGSTONE HOUSE – This house was once placed by the Sultan Seyyid Majid for use by the European explorer David Livingstone, while in preparation for his expedition to the mainland in 1866.
The walk from Tippu Tip’s house to the Old Fort at the seafront takes 15-25 minutes passing through Kenyatta road, past the Old Post Office and along Gizenga Street. Walking down the narrow lanes of the stone town tour gives the guests an opportunity to see some splendid architecture like miniature samples of the famous Arab doors and chests with their studded brass decorations, also fascinating glimpses of life as black shrouded women pass silently back and forth. There are also a variety of spices, antique and gift shops along the way.