Welcome to Zanzibar, an exotic archipelago just 25 miles off the coast of Tanzania. We’ll explore its unique heritage in Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and on an excursion to a spice plantation. We'll also encounter everyday life in this autonomous region of Tanzania, and immerse ourselves in the island's riches during a visit to a nature preserve.
- It's Included:
- Roundtrip airfare between Arusha and Zanzibar
- Accommodations for 5 nights in Zanzibar
- 9 meals—5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners
- 7 small group activities
- Services of a local Trip Leader
- All transfers
- Porterage for 1 bag per person
After bidding farewell to those travel companions who are returning home today from Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari, we’ll take a short flight from Arusha to Zanzibar Island—known as Unguja to locals. Upon arrival, we’ll check into our hotel and later, enjoy a Welcome Dinner.
Set out this morning on an included tour of historic Stone Town, one of the most charming and ancient towns in East Africa. As we wander the narrow streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, admire the fine buildings that reflect the city's historical mix of African, Arab, Indian, and European cultures.
The cultural hub of Zanzibar Island, Stone Town appears to have been frozen in time two centuries ago, when Zanzibar was at its peak as an Indian Ocean trading center. Along its warren of narrow streets, we'll view a blend of empires, from Persian and Portuguese to an Omani sultanate and finally British rule-all with a hint of the native Swahili culture.
Arab merchants once competed for the most extravagant residence, as we'll see by the many grand mansions with their brass-studded, elaborately carved doors. We'll also see the famous Old Dispensary; the home where explorer Dr. David Livingstone lived before his famous expedition to the mainland; the House of Wonders, a former palace that was also the first house in Zanzibar to have electricity; the Arab fort; and the bustling market. While here, it might be difficult to remember that Stone Town is a thriving community and not a movie set.
You will have plenty of opportunity to get acquainted with its treasures during your afternoon at leisure. Delve into the history of Zanzibar at the Peace Memorial Museum or the Palace Museum. Return to the late 17th-century Arab fort to marvel at its ramparts and browse the shops here. Explore the House of Wonders and the Old Dispensary in depth. And immerse yourself in the exhilarating hubbub of the local market. Or, opt to join an optional Stone Town Cooking Lesson. Expand your cooking knowledge with an in-depth lesson on Zanzibar’s creative cuisine. At a restaurant in Stone Town, a recognized chef will provide background on signature dishes from the region including; Briyani, Mseto, and Wali. You’ll learn how to incorporate different spices into a dish that you prepare and get to dine on your creations to taste the complex flavors found in the local dishes.
You'll also find many options for lunch and dinner on your own.
We’ll wake early this morning for a full day of adventure. After breakfast at our hotel, depart for the coastal village of Kizimkazi, where we’ll board a swift sailboat in search of dolphins. The shallow waters off Kizimkazi are home to two species—the common bottlenose and the humpback—that gravitate here to find reliable food, to care for their young, and to rest. Several large dolphin pods even stay here year-round, and so our chances of sighting a few of their members are good. We may even get the chance to swim and snorkel in their midst.
Back on dry land, we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before continuing to Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, Zanzibar’s only national park. Known for its unique ecosystem of mature forest resting upon a limestone reef, Jozani hosts a wide variety of flora and fauna. As we explore amidst plants like the strangler fig tree and raffia fern, we’ll watch for the park’s most famous resident—the Red Colobus monkey. Endemic to Zanzibar, the Red Colobus is one of the rarest species in Africa, with less than 2,000 remaining in the world.
We’ll return to our hotel in the evening. Enjoy time to unwind and to dine on your own.
This morning, we’ll visit a local essential oil distillery and learn about the organic cultivation process. Continue to a local spice plantation where the commodity that gave the Spice Islands their name is still cultivated. Cloves were introduced to Zanzibar in 1818, and the archipelago quickly became the world's leading producer. It remains a major crop here today. As we ride out into the gently rolling hills that undulate away from the city, view lush tropical plants, cinnamon trees, vanilla trees, and fruit trees. Learn more about the art and history of the cultivation of spices—and perhaps see whether you can identify clove, cardamom, nutmeg, peppercorn, and various fruits including jackfruit, pineapple, and coconut.
After lunch, we'll get a firsthand glimpse at the everyday lives—and enduring traditions—of the local people. We begin by venturing to the island's northeast coast, to a beach community. Here we'll gain insight into the local community by visiting markets selling fish, dhow builders, and a renowned blacksmith. More than 30 world-class beaches line the coasts of Zanzibar Island—which itself is just 50 miles long. With its warm currents year-round, the sea here attracts a variety of marine life, as we can see in its pristine, shallow waters and lush coral reefs. Here, our small group will visit a turtle sanctuary whose efforts help protect hawksbill and green turtles historically poached around Zanzibar for their shells and meat.
Next, we transfer back to our hotel, where our afternoon is at leisure. Dinner is on your own this evening.
After breakfast, we’ll depart for the Mangapwani Slave Caves. Our first stop is a large natural cave with a flight of stone steps leading to a freshwater pool. Our second, a square-shaped cell cut into the coralline rock, was built as a holding area for slaves in transit from the mainland to Zanzibar Town or island plantations. It is widely believed that both caves were used to hide slaves illegally after the trade was abolished in 1873.
Next, we’ll visit the village of Kizimbani to explore the well-preserved Persian baths that were built in 1850 by Princess Salme's father for his Persian second wife. Because depictions of living creatures are forbidden in Islamic art, Persian craftsmen were brought to Zanzibar to construct and decorate the baths. You'll also note the clever use of skylights to provide light to these windowless rooms.
This afternoon and lunch is on your own. Tonight, enjoy a Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers as well as a sunset dhow cruise.
Today is at leisure to make your own discoveries or join an optional Prison Island Tour. Just off the coast of Zanzibar’s Stone Town, Prison Island was originally intended to house runaway slaves, however, it was never actually used as a prison. Today this tropical island acts as a sanctuary for giant tortoises—some which are more than 100 years old. You’ll enjoy the opportunity to interact with exotic wildlife and gain insight into its unique local history as you enjoy stunning views of white sandbars and the crystal-clear water that surrounds the island.
Later this afternoon, we fly to Dar es Salaam Airport and depart on our overnight flight home, via Amsterdam, arriving the next day.