Zanzibar and its Islands
The narrow streets of Stone Town were for many early explorers a first sight of Africa as they stopped at Tanzania’s offshore island to provision expeditions, hire porters and plan their journeys.
Even now the island of Zanzibar is of Africa but not in it, a superb choice for a beach element of a longer safari but also a good destination for a sun and sand holiday in its own right.
Stone Town is the only significant city, an atmospheric meandering capital busy with markets and traders that echoes, five times a day, with the calls to prayer from countless muezzins. The city beaches are more used for informal games of football than for lounging in the sun, so after a day or two sun lovers should head out of town, to a selection of resorts set around the coast, or to the other islands, Pemba, Mafia, Mnemba and Chumbe. The emphasis here is on relaxed barefoot luxury, and most of these resorts and islands offer superb snorkelling and scuba diving.
Regular flights link Zanzibar with the mainland, though there are also a handful of resorts on Tanzania’s coast that can be reached overland.
Zanzibar Holidays - Travel Tips
- The climate on Zanzibar follows that of the mainland with some rain in April, May and November, but warm temperatures throughout the year.
- There are a wide variety of hotels on Zanzibar and the surrounding islands; from larger 'resort style' hotels with their own dive schools and watersports through to much smaller lodges with thatched cottages along a coral clifftop.
- A beach holiday on Zanzibar combines well with a safari in Tanzania or neighbouring Kenya.
Zanzibar Holidays - A Personal View
As a teenager at my school, it wasn’t very cool to like the band Queen , especially the pouting and prancing of lead singer Freddie Mercury. I however secretly enjoyed their songs and was pleased to visit the huge wooden front door of the house which was purportedly Freddie’s birthplace in the narrow winding streets of Stone Town on Zanzibar (his father worked in the local British Colonial Office). I say purportedly since I have subsequently talked to other people who have been shown to different houses. I don’t care; as far as I’m concerned I’ve made my pilgrimage!
Richard Smith - One of Aardvark's Zanzibar holiday specialists
Zanzibar Holidays - Ideas You Might Not Have Thought About
Castaway Conservation - Chumbe Island
Live in luxury on this private island without damaging the environment. The award winning accommodation is constructed ‘Robinson Crusoe’ style from local materials and comes with many eco friendly features. A 30 second stroll takes you from your bed to the warm tropical ocean which is teeming with countless species of fish and resident turtles. The island boasts a protected, pristine coral reef described as offering ‘the best snorkelling in the world’. Alternatively, explore the island’s forest reserve to look for the rare giant coconut crab. These extraordinary arthropods roam around at night, climbing palm trees and breaking into coconuts to eat their contents.
Stone Town for a Sensory Experience
Stone Town is a labyrinth of narrow alleys complete with palaces, mosques, and tiny shops. Enclosed on two sides by the sea, this ancient spice trading port is exotic, vibrant and steeped in history. Visit the noisy early morning markets as the smell of spices fills the air; browse the busy bazaars; explore the maze of alleyways to admire intricately carved wooden doors and, as the sun sets, watch laden dhows sail in and out of port from one of Stone Town's magical roof-top restaurants.
Diving from Mafia Island
Mafia Island has long been famous among game fishermen for its record catches; the diving is equally impressive. Pole Pole and Kinasi lodges provide the opportunity for divers to encounter the wonders of the coral reefs that surround the island from their specially adapted diving dhow. With more than 50 genera of coral and over 400 species of fish, the island is a favourite destination for experienced divers while the pristine shallow reefs are perfect for snorkelling or learning to dive.