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 meet the women of a seaweed farm and soap-making facility.
- It's Included:
- Roundtrip airfare between Arusha and Zanzibar
- Accommodations for 5 nights in Zanzibar
- 10 meals—5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 3 dinners
- 6 small group activities
- Services of a local Trip Leader
- All transfers
- Porterage for 1 bag per person
After breakfast this morning, we'll depart for Arusha, where we'll enjoy lunch and bid farewell to those travel companions who are returning home today from Safari Serengeti: Tanzania Lodge & Tented Safari. Then, we transfer to Arusha Airport to board our flight to Zanzibar Island, known as Unguja to the locals.
Upon arrival, we'll check into our hotel. This evening dinner will be on our own.
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.
After an early breakfast, we’ll board traditional wooden Zanzibari buses to be taken out for a day of cultural experiences visiting local villages. Perhaps the highlight of the morning will be our excursion to a seaweed farm in the town of Paje along the eastern coast. The Seaweed Center is an enterprise run solely by women—many of whom have escaped unfortunate circumstances in search for a better life, and are now independently earning their own income to support themselves and their children. The seaweed is harvested and cultivated on site, where we’ll have the chance to tour the facilities and interact with the farmers. We’ll then try some of the center’s products and treatments, such as soaps, body scrubs, and moisturizing creams.
After lunch at a local restaurant along the beach, we’ll visit Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park—Zanzibar’s only national park—and the only place in the world to spot the Red Colobus monkey. There, we’ll walk along raised boardwalks among mangrove trees and discover various coastal flora, fauna, and wildlife, including the fiddler crab. Dinner tonight is at our lodge.
Today we’ll have a full day to cruise scenic Menai Bay by traditional Zanzibari motor boat. Located off the southwestern coast of Zanzibar, Menai Bay is the islands’ largest protected marine area that is home to extensive coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea grasses, and tropical fish. While discovering small islets such as Komunda and Miwi, we may even witness pods of dolphin swimming by. We’ll have the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the warm cerulean waters before a picnic lunch is set up for us on a sand island.
Later this afternoon, we’ll have leisure time to relax or explore near our hotel. Dinner is at our lodge this evening.
This morning we’ll head 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 an afternoon at leisure and lunch on our own, we’ll depart for a sunset cruise on a traditional dhow sailboat. Weather permitting, our Farewell Dinner tonight will be held on the beach.
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.