Zanzibar Island is the most well known of the islands, but the archipelago also consists of lush Pemba to the north and numerous smaller islands and islets poised in luxuriously turquoise seas. The beauty of this area has tempted travellers, traders, slave-traders and colonists for centuries, but there are still many areas on these islands that remain unexplored, pristine, untouched.
Zanzibar is famous for once being the commercial centre of East Africa and has been known as “the Spice Island” because of its many spice plantations and spice tours. It combines ancient Islamic ruins, noble Arabic houses with miles of white sandy palm fringed beaches and coves. The ocean offers warm clear blue waters, excellent reefs for snorkelling and diving, fantastic deep sea fishing, water sports and delicious fresh fish. The activities available on Zanzibar include: spice tours, dhow trips, diving, deep sea fishing, sailing, walking safaris, ballooning, bird watching, dolphin-watching, and visiting a number of interesting sites such as Jozani Forest, Chumbe Islands, or the historical ruins of Mbweni Palace.
Diving and snorkelling can be extrordinary in this part of the world. The seas around Zanzibar, Mafia, Chole Bay and the Pemba Channel are considered among the best waters for diving in the Indian Ocean. Chole Bay is part of a protected marine park, with an unbroken reef running the length of Mafia Island. The diving here is spectacular and includes colourful coral gardens, walls at various levels and many shelves and coral heads. The coral keeps many colourful fish, including hawksbill and sea turtles. Mafia is a perfect destination for divers seeking adventure and beauty, or for those who just want to relax in this most idyllic tropical setting.
|Old Swahilili wooden doors :: Stone Town ::
These world famous doors – dozens of marvellously renovated ones can be seen in Zanzibar’s Stonetown.
|Swahili girl standing infront of door in stone town Zanzibar..||::Stone Town::
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 handwork. You can spend many idle hours and days just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.
|Most of the houses that can be seen today were built in the 19th century when Zanzibar was one of the most important trading centres in the Indian Ocean region. The coraline rock of Zanzibar was a good building material, but it is also easily eroded. This is evident by the large number of houses that are in a bad state of repair. Several buildings have already been renovated and the Stone Town Conservation Authority has been established to co-ordinate the restoration of the town to its original magnificence. Pictured opposite is a ‘before and after’ look at the restoration work done on the Old Dispensary. As a result of sensible policy, nearly all of the major hotels built in Stone Town are housed in renovated buildings.|