Exploring the diversity of the Zanzibar Island

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Zanzibar has so much to offer the average traveller. The archipelago made its mark in the world because of its spices. Zanzibar was a famous port in the ancient times in the spice trade. In fact, it’s still known as the Spice Islands and spices are an integral part of its culture. One of the most popular things to do in Zanzibar is a spice tour. The tour takes you through the spice plantations of the island and gives your senses an ultimate experience. Spices like clove, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper perfume the air and gather your every thought. Learn how the spices are cultivated and harvested. Many tours end with a meal. You can also buy spices to take home to your loved ones.

Zanzibar (Unguja), along with its neighbouring primary island of Pemba, and many others, offers many miles of untouched shoreline. The water is warm, visibility is high, marine life is rich and inviting. Think of multi-coloured coral, inquisitive dolphins, tortoises and a wide array of fish and you’ll get a sense of what to expect from the country. Zanzibar is known for its amazing dive sites. They are the kinds that appeal to novices and experts equally. Mafia, whilst technically not part of the Zanzibar archipelago, is one of the most popular of islands and is not crowded either, giving you a relaxed, unhurried diving experience. From deep sea fishing to diving, snorkelling, swimming, kitesurfing and other marine activities, you can do a whole lot here. If you’re not in the mood for it, enjoy the slow pace of life by relaxing on the beach and watching the dhows sail by.

For those history buffs and aficionados, Stone Town is a veritable treasure trove. This is a UNESCO certified World Heritage site and has many marvellous things to see and experience. The architecture is fascinating, and you’ll see any number of influences here, from Persian to European. The most fascinating sights include the House of Wonders, the market of Darajani, the Sultan’s Palace, the old Turkish Baths and the Forodhani Gardens. If you like tasting local cuisine, check out the night market at the Gardens. They take place each night and offer the authentic Zanzibari experience in food. From the Zanzibari ‘pizza’ to samosas and sweets, sugarcane juice and other drinks, the market is a treat for the senses.

There’s a lot of history in Zanzibar. Often, it is sad too. Thirty minutes from Zanzibar is Prison Island. The ruins of the prison can be seen here, and the island works as a nature reserve for giant tortoise. Staying with nature reserves, head to Jozani forest for something truly unique. This forest is the last indigenous forest in the island and is a swamp forest. It is home to the rare and endangered red colobus monkey. A leisurely walk through the forest is what you need to revive your spirits. You are sure to spot many interesting butterflies, plants, tons of birds and animals. This is an important conservative effort and an admirable one at that. Do check out the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre for more information about these colourful delicate creatures too.

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