Located in the Indian Ocean just 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is an exquisite gem in East Africa. The Zanzibar Archipelago consists of many small islands and two larger ones. It is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, with its capital located on the island of Unguja.
There is much to see and do in Zanzibar, whether you are looking for an adventure, a touch history or just pure relaxation. Zanzibar’s scenic landscape is second to none and is home to unique wildlife found nowhere else in the world. Is Zanzibar your next escape? Here are 5 splendid to-do activities that you should add to your travel itinerary!
Visit Prison Island
True to its name, Prison Island is a former prison for slaves and a quarantine station fro Zanzibar. Strategically located just off the Old Stone Town, Prison Island offers more than its notorious history. It is also home to giant land tortoises known as the Giant Aldabra Tortoise. These large creatures were previously imported from the island of Seychelles in the 19th century and have made Prison Island their home ever since.
Giant Aldabra Tortoises can live up to 2 centuries long and is a herbivorous animal, eating grass, leaves and woody plant stems. Take the opportunity to feed and pet these gentle giants when you take a stroll along Prison Island!
Get Up-Close & Personal with Endangered Animals
Zanzibar is also home to some of the world’s most endangered animals including the red colobus monkey and the servaline genet. The Zanzibar red colobus monkey can be found in some islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago including the larger island of Unguja. Like most primates, they are a social species living in troops between 15-30 animals. The Zanzibar red colobus is the most endangered monkey species in Africa, with a population estimate of between 2,000 to 3,000 individuals.
Another endangered species found in Zanzibar is the Zanzibar servaline genet. You’d be interested to know that this subspecies of the servaline genet was only recently discovered and named in 1995! Live Zanzibar servaline genets were first photographed in 2003, allowing for new information about the genet to be documented. As of yet, its conservation status is still unknown.
Both these endangered species can be found at the Jozani Chawka National Bay Park on Unguja Island. Due to its close proximity to mainland Tanzania, travelers usually combine a Tanzania & Zanzibar safari trip to be able to catch a glimpse of these small animals in the wild!
Explore Nungwi & Kendwa Beaches
Ask travelers what they think is the top thing to do in Zanzibar and most would probably say to visit the islands’ many beaches. Famous for its powdery white beaches and the protective barrier reef that line its Eastern coastlines, beaches in Zanzibar are second to none. There are many beaches to choose from should you go exploring but Nungwi and Kendwa beaches are the most popular choices among locals and tourists.
Nungwi beach is located north of the island and is unique because it doesn’t experience significant low tides, allowing swimmers to swim all day without having to chase the waves all the way out into the ocean.
Another popular beach is Kendwa beach, located south of Nungwi. Kendwa is Nungwi’s quieter counterpart, boasting a lesser crowd and a more relaxed atmosphere. Kendwa is the perfect place to just sit back, relax and perhaps enjoy a relaxing dose of yoga or even an exhilarating surf experience while you watch the sunset!
Satiate the Taste Buds
Image credit: AFAR
It is only fair that island life comes with it a scrumptious selection of fresh seafood! Find yourself indulging in the freshest seafood available in Zanzibar at the Forodhani market. This marvelous nighttime food market opens its doors to hungry foodies in the late afternoon. At the market, you will find yourself spoilt for choice as you indulge in row after row of grills filled with fish, prawn, lobster, crab and squid. This is street food at its best – inexpensive and delicious. But as with all street food, do exercise caution and choose only the freshest ingredients. Pay attention to the chef who is preparing and handling your food to ensure good hygiene.
Indulge in a Spice Tour
It is almost unthinkable to leave the island also known as “Spice Island” without going on a spice tour. In the 19th century, Zanzibar was known as one of the world’s leading producers of a variety of spices including nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. Initially introduced by Portuguese traders to the island in the 16th century, modern day Zanzibar still produces high-quality spices that are exported internationally.
On your spice tour, you will see how spices are cultivated, experience first hand their smell and taste and get the opportunity to buy some locally grown spice home! The vibrant colors of the spices are definitely as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the taste buds and a great photo opportunity to share with family and friends. Perhaps you might also be inspired to cook up a storm in the kitchen!
Inspired to make a trip to Zanzibar this year? Why not pay Tanzania a visit too for a classic safari in Tanzania? It’ll be sure to be worth your while!