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Best Excursions and Day Trips in Zanzibar

While many visitors love visiting Zanzibar because of its pristine beaches and azure waters, there are many different attractions to be found in the island. The temptation when you arrive on any East African coast is to settle cosily with a cocktail and a book on a seaside lounge chair and wait until summoned for dinner.

But for those looking for adventure and with adrenaline to burn, here are our recommendations of best excursions and day trips that will leave you exhausted while yearning for more:

1. Jozani forest tour

Initiated as a conservation area in the 1960s, the Jozani forest is now part of the island’s Jozani National Park and is a sanctuary for a rare and endangered species of monkey, the red colobus. Your tour will be led by an experienced guide with a good grasp of the island’s fauna and flora. During the trip keep an eye for other forest inhabitants that include bush pigs, Sykes monkeys, hyraxes and Ader’s duiker. Also, check out around 50 species of birds.

2. Jambiani village tour

Jambiani is a village that stretches for four miles along one of Zanzibar’s most picturesque beaches. A tour of Jambiani village is an eye-opener to the lives of about 8,000 residents of Zanzibar which the tourist lens attempt to avoid.

The tour starts at the local kindergarten where you’ll be delighted to mingle with hundreds of serenading pre-schoolers.

Your guide, a man with intricate knowledge of the village and its history, will explain about the traditional healer or manager, or you can learn how local women make rope from dried coconut husks. A highlight of the tour will be visiting the seaweed farms that are set up in the shallows and gain an insight of how seaweed is processed before harvesting and sold. You’ll also get a chance to chat with locals in their houses about their daily lives, customs, and traditions.

Your visit will not be complete without sampling local delicacies such as pilau and biryani.

3. Stone Town tour

Your tour of Stone Town will focus primarily on exploring the UNESCO World Heritage center with a highly knowledgeable tour guide. He will spend time elaborating aspects of the trip that interest you most: the turbulent history of trade in spices and slaves; of Sultans, Princes and Princesses; of conquerors, colonialists and the vanquished; food and traditional medicine, education structure, the role of women in society, architecture, what goes on inside the hidden courtyards and a detailed description of the buildings and narrow alleys. Of course, you’ll mingle with the many vendors gently catching your attention to buy their wares.

While still in Stone Town you can tour the incredible fish and spice markets and be tempted by the myriad aromas and sights of food on offer.

4. Zanzibar dhow safaris

A visit to Zanzibar would not be complete without a trip on a traditional wooden Dhow. Your day starts early at the Fumba beach some 40 minutes from Stone Town. These beautifully handcrafted boats bring romance back to sailing, enhancing the beauty of the Menai Conservation area. Take an exploration tour of the island and watch fishermen as they catch elusive fish in the Indian ocean. After the trip enjoy a sumptuous lunch of chapatti and beef stew.

5. Take a spice tour

The first known spices were brought to the island by Portuguese traders around the 16 the century.

The spice tour is a short trip to a spice shamba where you’ll see how spices, fruits, and herbs are grown and cultivated. Your knowledgeable guide will have a field day explaining how they’re harvested and processed. You’ll get a chance to taste and smell cloves, lemongrass, nutmeg, chilli, and papaya.

The tour will end next to a stall selling freshly packaged spices, and they accept only cash. You will then get invited for a Swahili luncheon which is included in the tour package.

Read more Where to go on your first safari

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