Nothing is typical in Zanzibar. Home of some of the best beaches and diving in the world, it is actually a string of islands sitting off the coast of Tanzania. The islands are awash with culture, history, and magnificent coasts under swaying palms. Come here to relax, explore, and feel the vibe of a different sort of Africa.
Sometimes known as the “Spice Islands” – producing clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper – this unique archipelago is part of Tanzania… but is also somewhat independent, semi-autonomous.
The largest island and the epicenter of Zanzibar is called Unguja, but most just refer to it informally as Zanzibar Island. This is the home of the historic old quarter called, Stone Town, a World Heritage site. It is a former trading center characterized by winding passageways, mosques, colonial forts, palaces, and museums.
But a short walk will bring you to a world of perfect beaches resting between tiny fishing villages. Fronting the aquamarine of the Indian Ocean, you can while away the days on these shores relaxing in your own perfect haven.
The Zanzibar chain of islands also includes Pemba and Mafia Islands – also producers of the region’s spices, home to powdery beaches and astounding marine life.
Perhaps the heart of Zanzibar Town, this historic quarter is a fascinating maze filled with history and the influences of African, Arabian, Indian, and European cultures. Treading these narrow streets will take you to museums, palaces, cathedrals and more.
Old Fort – built by invading Arabs over 300 years ago, its large ramparts overlook the ocean. At one time a prison, it features an open amphitheater and Cultural Arts Gallery, where you can view local art.
Palace Museum – built as a sultan’s palace, this series of buildings set on the waterfront exhibits many artifacts of the royal era – portraits, thrones, and great tables. Adjoining the museum rests the tombs of several sultans.
Old Dispensary – intricate balconies and an ornate clock tower distinguish this beautiful 19th-century dispensary devoted to charitable service. Explore the interior and spacious courtyard.
Princess Salme Museum – a little jewel box of a museum it is dedicated to the story of Princess Salme who chronicled her elopement with a German merchant in her Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar.
Anglican Cathedral – its spire rising above the surrounding neighborhood, this was the first Anglican cathedral built in East Africa in the 1870s. Inspired by the famous explorer David Livingstone, the church’s crucifix is made from the tree that stood over his burial site in Zambia.
Outside the building is the poignant Slave Memorial, a work showing slaves trapped in a pit below the ground – a reminder of the Zanzibar’s slave markets of the past.
House of Wonders – it lives up to its name with its tiers of balconies overlooking the sea. Built by a sultan in the 19th century it featured marble floors and the marvel of electricity, certainly a wonder in its day. One of the most impressive buildings on the island.
Forodhani Gardens – a lovely space by the water, locals and visitors mix at the restaurants and cafes here. There’s also a children’s park and food stalls open during the evening.
You’ll find more of the natural world here than just stunning beaches. In the island’s reserves and parks, you’ll discover endangered species of land and sea creatures, nature trails, and many kinds of birdlife.
Jozani-Chwaka National Park – a large forested area that also harbors lush marshes with ferns and thick trees. This is the home of several endangered species like the Zanzibar red colobus monkey and also bushbabies, duikers, and a rich array of birds.
Enjoy the forest nature trail or the boardwalk taking you through mangrove fields.
Mnarani Marine Turtle Conservation Pond – near the island’s lighthouse you’ll find this turtle sanctuary situated in a natural tidal pool. Look for all kinds of turtle species here protected from hunters. Local fishermen bring any turtle eggs they accidentally catch to this protected haven.
Every February, the locals and tourists come out to assist the hundreds of turtle hatchlings in their quest to cross the beach and make it to the sea.
ZALA Park – ZALA stands for Zanzibar Land Animals – a park created to encourage local conservation efforts and enjoy the wildlife.
Although there are many islands in the Zanzibar archipelago, neighboring Pemba and Mafia Island are the largest and most known. Not nearly as popular as Zanzibar Island, nevertheless, they too offer stunning beaches and beautiful marine life.
Pemba Island – known as the “Green Island”, Pemba is hillier, lusher, and quieter than its sister island. The diving and snorkeling here are excellent due to vivid displays of rich marine life. Just a 40-minute flight from Dar es Salaam, Pemba produces most of the clove crop of this region.
Mafia Island – the third largest of the islands, it is south of Zanzibar and was a trading hub for Egypt, Rome, Portugal, and Greece in times past. It’s also a fairly untouristed island and offers equally extraordinary diving. Look for whale sharks as well as humpbacks that use this area as a breeding ground.
This is a unique world, off on its own, apart from the rest of Africa. Immerse yourself in the culture, history, architecture, and unforgettable waters of Zanzibar.
The beaches are spectacular as is the easy vibe out here in the Indian Ocean. Natural World Kenya Safaris offers tours of this special paradise. Just contact us for a different kind of African holiday. Let’s talk and we’ll create a customized vacation to exotic Zanzibar, just for you.
It may not have a particularly romantic name, but Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years.It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings.This one-upmanship is particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors – there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. You can spend many idle hours and days just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.
This is a walking tour that takes you through fabled Stone Town, where history appears to stand still. With visits to the House of Wonders,the former slave market for East African Slave trade, and the Arab Fort amongst others, it is a fascinating look at the essence of Zanzibar.The architectural style of Stone town buildings is a unique mixture of various influences and culture.
You will see Zanzibar’s bustling market, winding alleyways, ornately carved and studded doors, two cathedrals and countless mosques!
Stone Town has some excellent gifts shops with plenty of souvenirs and handicrafts to choose from.
A guided walk through this colorful and alternating city with tour knowledgeable tour guides, who knows not only funny of Stone town, but also cruel stories to tell about life of the old times in Stone town.
Stone town tour is a walking tour and takes almost 3 hrs of walking in the narrow streets.
After you step on-board the vessel, the skilled crew on board take the dhow about 1km away from the shore by means of an engine, once out in the sea the engine is shut off and during a tense moment the skillful crew put up the sail, once the sail is in favor of the wind, the guest can sit back, relax and enjoy the peacefulness of the ocean as you hear the ripple of water on the sides of the dhow as it glides swiftly through the clear turquoise water.
Our sunset cruises leave Stone Town in the late afternoon to cruise along the coast, slicing through the clear turquoise water.
The sounds of the bustle of busy people in Stone Town grow faint in the distance until they seem there, only in a memory, as the dhow sail you will be served with sodas drinking water, and Zanzibar light snacks which will encourage you to sink back into the dhow bench and enjoy the romance of Zanzibar Island while the sun sets down with its beautiful orange colors.
Your breath will be taken away by the wonder of the fiery golden-sun setting beyond the horizon as it makes the sky a magical canvas of shades of pinks, purples, blues and orange. As you head back for stone town the wind gently blows into the Latin sail which is truly mesmerizing.
On board our dhow we have a personal guide who will accompany you on your cruise and give you a tour of Stone Town from the water as well as be able to answer any questions that you may ask him. You will come back to the shore at 1830hrs and drive to the hotel.
The history of Zanzibar would be incomplete without the cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and many other spices which are essential ingredient in a Zanzibari’s everyday life, it is the island’s connection to spices and herbs. Zanzibar and Spice is a romantic entanglement that dates back to the 16th century. Apart from being an important commodity on the trade routes. They can be seen in the plantations just outside Zanzibar town, this is also a fantastic opportunity to see the countryside and rural areas of Zanzibar and also connect with local people.
We have developed a special Spice Tour with in-depth information not only about spices, but also organically grown herbs and detailed descriptions about their uses in traditional dishes, as cures for ailments and even for dyeing traditional ceremonial outfits for weddings and festivals. We have knowledgeable guides trained by a famous herbalist in Zanzibar Mr. Madawa.
Our guided walking tour passes through villages and spice plantations, a walk through the farms as spice farms workers climbs trees, seek out specific plants and cuts off various barks, letting you see, feel and taste everything.
You will be decorated with palm-leaf accessories such as ties, rings, bracelets and glasses. At the Spice farms you will have an opportunity to taste some of the exotic fruits of Zanzibar.
After the tour we invite you for an opulent traditional Swahili lunch served in a local house, here you will get a really taste of the spices in the food. The tour includes visiting the Kidichi Persian Baths built in 1850 by the first Sultan of Zanzibar as a gift for his Persian wife.
At the Spice farms is the best place to buy fresh spices directly from the source.
Earning its name as a former prison for slaves and a quarantine station for Zanzibar and the mainland, nowadays the island gives you the chance to escape for some peace and quiet.
The island lies just off the Old Stone Town, it is also a home to giant land tortoises that were imported from Seychelles in the late 19th century. Now it is more commonly known as a home of Zanzibar’s Giant Aldabran Tortoise colony, some of which are over a hundred years old! This endangered species came to Zanzibar as a gift from the government of the Seychelles.
Once on the island, you have the opportunity to feed and pet the tortoises, if you have time you may also like to take a stroll through the forested interior where you will see a wide variety of birds, colorful peacocks, bats, and beautiful butterflies. Keep your eyes peeled too for the shy and elusive Duikers – an unusual tiny antelope species.
It is fringed with a beautiful coral reef, ideal for snorkeling, and has a lovely white beach for sunbathing. This tour is a great way to see some history and wildlife, and also to see Stone Town from the sea as many old maritime legends would have done.
This forest is one of the last remaining sanctuaries in the world of the red colubus monkey.
The forest is 2,512 hectares (6,207 acres) in size and was declared a nature reserve in the 1960′s.
Wonderful photo opportunities and sightings of these rare creatures living in the forest reserves are possible on the pathways. Our guides are also naturalists and nature lovers will have a wonderful time in the nature reserve.
They were an endangered species, but numbers have increased in recent years thanks to conservation work by the nature reserve working closely with the local people. It is estimated that there are now between 2,000-2,500 monkeys. The monkeys are wild, but it is possible to get close to them and they carry on their normal activities as though human visitors do not exist.
The elusive Zanzibar leopard (last sited several years ago) is said to feed here at night – perhaps this is why the reserve is only open during the day!
Jozani has an excellent nature trail and the guides are well trained and informative. A walk through this impressive flora and fauna is one of the highlights Zanzibar has to offer.
At Jozani, you will also visit the Mangrove swamp and walk around the Mangrove forest.
The most popular dolphin spotting location in Zanzibar is in Kizimkazi village located on the Southern coast of Zanzibar Island where you can see both bottle-nose and humpback dolphins.
The shallow coastal waters around Kizimkazi are a favorite hangout for dolphins that come here for the reliable food supply, to nurse their calves, rest and socialize.
Several bottle-nose dolphins stay at Kizimkazi all year-round. There are also rather shyer humpback dolphins that put in an appearance here, although their schedule is a little more erratic.
Dolphin tour is best very early in the morning, because in the afternoon as the sun rises sea water tends to become warm, therefore dolphins dive deep down the sea bottom to escape heat, for the guests who stay in Stone town hotel, we pick them up from their hotels at 06:00am and 05:00am from beach hotels.
You can do the trip later in the afternoon but the probability to see dolphins is very small, not only that but at this time there might be many boats at the dolphin sites this scare the dolphins which is not good for their sustainability.
Although dolphin-spotting is a popular activity, sightings aren’t guaranteed 100%, and actually managing to swim with dolphins is a rare occurrence, like with other wild animals spotting dolphins require time and patience as they are not confined in a cage or a zoo, they are in their natural environment. Dolphin trips last two to three hours.
Kizimkazi is also the site of a 12th century mosque, the earliest evidence of Islam in East Africa, and is thus worth a visit for both cultural and historical reasons. We provide Lunch on full day trips Only at the beach restaurant. We advice clients to wear their swimming costume. We also advise to wear waterproof sandals for boarding the dhows and to bring sunscreen, towel and spare T – shirt for snorkeling.
The spice island of Zanzibar is home to some of the best big game and deep sea fishing opportunities in the Indian Ocean.
Join us for a day out Big Game Fishing in the waters of Zanzibar. The deep sea fishing charter boats are fully rigged and ready to take you out for a fishing experience you will never forget! This deep sea fishing in Zanzibar is located at the northern tip in Nungwi, a fishing village, which is the fishing grounds of Zanzibar, We fish by trolling a combination of lures or natural dead baits (Ballyhoo or strips) or live bait.
The skippers and crew are also experienced at all disciplines of fishing whether your requirements be spinning, fly fishing, jigging, popping for Giant Trevally etc, power chumming or drifting with baits. The well equipped and catered sports fishing boats and resourceful crews will ensure your absolute enjoyment out on the water.
Billfish such as Striped, Black and Blue Marlin as well as the acrobatic and dazzling Sailfish and elusive Short bill Spearfish abound in these crystal waters! Yellow fin tuna, Dorado, Wahoo, Barracuda, Kingfish (Trevally), King & Queen Mackerel and the lesser game fish such as Bonito tuna, Skipjack tuna and Rainbow Runner provide endless hours of adrenalin filled Game Fishing action out on the water!
The boats are available for Half Day or Full Day charters and Night Fishing trips for Broadbill Swordfish, the “Gladiator of the Sea”, can be arranged and will certainly test your skills as an angler.
Contact us for more information
For more information about our safari excursions, or to book your dream safari trip with Natural World Kenya Safaris, simply get in touch with our friendly travel advisors. Give us a call on +254 704 001 122 or leave your details on our contact us page, and we'll reply as quickly as possible.
Natural World Kenya safaris is Member No.FA/440 - Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) bonding scheme. The scheme is insured to guarantee your holiday safari in the unlikely event that a bonded KATO member ceases operating.
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