Zanzibar Main Island
Known as Unguja and The Spice Island, the beautiful island of Zanzibar on Africa’s east coast is bursting with culture and history, seemingly at odds with its idyllic landscape of white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and exotic greenery. All of this makes Zanzibar an ideal location to explore, as well as a dream island for relaxation and unwinding.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometers (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland. This archipelago consists of many small islands, as well as two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Within the capital lies the lively historic centre of Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.
What You’ll See
Known as the Spice Island, this beautiful, exotic island on Tanzania’s eastern coast is bursting with culture and history.
Portuguese invasion and control of the Swahili Coast in the late 16th century ended the golden age of the archipelago, although the Omani Arabs returned to power less than a century later.
Today, many of the winding streets and high townhouses of old Stone Town remain unchanged and unmarred by time. Many visitors enjoy roaming the streets of this ancienct city, from the sultan’s palace, to the House of Wonders, the Portuguese fort and gardens, the merchants’ houses, and the Turkish baths of the old city.
A visit to Zanzibar’s main island would not be complete without a spice tour. Day-long tours to working plantations offer visitors the chance to observe the cultivation of cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices that have made the island famous.
Zanzibar’s coastline offers some of the best beaches in the world. Depending on what side of the island you’re on, you’ll see different varieties of sand and surf. On the East coast, waves break over coral reefs and sand bars offshore, with small pools of starfish, small minnows, and anemones that can be seen during low tide. On the North side of the island, ocean swimming is much less susceptible to the tides, and smooth beaches and white sand make for dazzling days in the sun.
The port city of Stone Town dominates the west coast. Mangapwani, where slave caves are visible at low tide, as well as nearby Bububu are less than half an hour’s drive away from the city center.
Although the Northern and Eastern side of the island are further away from the city of Stone Town, a night or two spent in those areas is well worth the extra hour it takes to get there. That being said, the Chole Island Marine Park just off Stone Town – and nearby Prison, Grave, and Snake Islands – make a refreshing day-trip and a good break from exploring the winding passageways of the old city.
On the Southern coast of Zanzibar lies the Menai Bay Conservation Area, where you can visit a sea turtle protection area for the endangered species that come to breed on the island. Roads to the Southeastern coast take visitors through the Jozani Forest, which is home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys and a number of other primate and small antelope species.
If any of these excursions appeal to you, feel free to get in touch to learn more.
Source: Tanzania Tourist Board
Places to See
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