Stone Town is the historical center of Zanzibar City, the major city of the island and former capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate. In the 19th century, Zanzibar was a booming base for trading spices and slaves. Today, Stone Town is still a notable historical and artistic city. The old buildings still standing in Stone Town, date mostly from the 19th century. They reflect the influences of the Swahili culture, and the mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements. The beautiful old city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Walking through the city, you will be able to discover the streets of the old town, learn more about the rich history of Zanzibar and its many influences, be part of the everyday life of the city and notice how different cultures and religions live together in harmony.
The tour starts by visiting the Anglican Church built by Dr. Livingstone at the old slave market location. Some information inside will take you through the incredible life of the Scottish explorer and missionary, from his fight against slavery to his death and heritage. Just next to the Church, you can visit the slave chamber where slaves from East and Central Africa were waiting to be sold at the market.
Walking around the narrow streets of the city, the guide will show you some coralline walls from the 19th and 20th century, old hobnailed doors and wooden balconies. You will pass in front Freddy Mercury’s home, or at least the one local guides claim Queen’s vocalist lived in when he was a child. You will admire the House of Wonders, the old Dispensary, the old Fort and its stone amphitheater, and many other beautiful attractions of the city.
You will also be able to wander around the colorful main market. A great variety of food such as meat, fish, vegetables and spices is sold at this bustling market.
• Walking shoes are recommended.
• Be aware that all tourists must cover their shoulders and knees as a respect to the local beliefs.
The beautiful island of Zanzibar, also known as the Spice Island, offers the possibility of visiting the farmlands just outside of Stone Town. It was the Portuguese traders who brought these spices from South America and India with the intention to have the upper hand with the profitable trading routes to the Far East. Nowadays, the spices provide the flavor to the very unique cuisine of Zanzibar, help to cure to everyday illnesses and supply the dyes and cosmetic products used in local weddings and festivals.
The tour will take you to the village of Kindichi, a small village located 6 km north of Stone Town. Guides will take you on a walking tour of through the village and plantations. He will be picking up leaves and fruits and asking you to guess what they are.
Spice farms in Zanzibar are very different from the ones in Europe or America. Local inhabitants have the belief that plants and trees should grow freely in their natural environment and in a natural way. This system, called Permaculture, can be seen here where all the plants and trees are mixed together. You’ll notice that you can see every different kinds of spice all thought the plantation.
Pretty much all spices that we can find in a kitchen can be found in the farm. You will be able to see natural carpets of clover that close themselves when they are touched, try the fruits of the carambola tree, learn more about the vanilla fertilization technique, and many other spices such as cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, chili, black pepper, lemongrass, nutmeg, etc.
Local farmers will follow you during the tour making hats, rings or flowers from palm tree leaves. A farmer will climb a palm tree up to 30 meters high to show how they pick the coconuts and leaves which they use in everyday life. You will also be able to buy aromatic soaps, perfumes and spices. The profits made from the visits and the sales are used to help the local community, such as funding the school or building infrastructure.
At the end of the visit, you will be offered a traditional Swahili meal cooked using many of the spices that you tried during the visit. Generally, it will consist of Pilau rice and curry, vegetables, fish or meat, and fruits for dessert. You can choose to eat sitting on a blanket like the locals or on benches.
Around the parking area, you will find the Persian baths built by Sultan Seyyid Said in 1850, to honor the contract of marriage with Scheherazade. If you are interested, you can ask your guide to visit the bath for a price of $2.
• Closed shoes are recommended to walk around the farm although you will follow a designated path.
• Bring sun cream.
• There are toilets in the farm.
Slave Chamber & Coral Cave
The Slave Chamber is a rectangular-shaped underground cell situated close to the beach of Mangapwani that was cut out of the coralline rock. Mohammed bin Nassor Al-Alwi, an important slave trader, had it built to store slaves taken from mainland. From here, the slaves would be taken to Stone Town for re-sale, or to the plantations on the island.
In 1873, Sultan Barghash signed the Anglo-Zanzibari treaty which officially abolished the slave trade. Despite this fact, the Slave Chamber kept being used to hide slaves for a few years as the illegal trade continued.
The chamber is only around 40m² and it is said that more than 200 slaves were kept there at the same time. There is a board with information about the chamber as there are no guides available.
After the Slave Chamber, you will visit the Coral Cave that is situated 3 km away. It consists of a 1 km long cave reaching the sea. This natural cave was used to smuggle the slaves out to the boats to be transported overseas.
The local guide will tell you about the history of the cave and the history of slavery in East Africa. You will be able to walk on the coral floor where thousands of slaves, men, women and children had to walk barefoot in a complete darkness to their tragic destiny.
• Closed walking shoes are recommended.
• Although both visits are suitable to everyone, it is not recommended to walk in the cave if you have any physical difficulty or claustrophobia.
• There are no toilets in the area.
The Jozani Forest is part of the 50 km² Chwaka Bay National Park. It is the largest area of native forest remaining on Zanzibar, although today it is only a small part of what once covered much of the island. Jozani forest and the wildlife living in it have been protected by the colonial government since 1952.
There are a few endemic animal species living in Jozani forest that makes it a very special attraction for wildlife lovers. The main reason visitors come to Jozani is to see the Red Colobus Monkeys which are unique to Zanzibar archipelago. It is estimated that there are only around 2.500 remaining. Another species that can you can often see in the forest is the blue (Syke’s) monkey.
The tour starts at the park reception where you will meet your guide. There are some boards where you can learn about the history, the fauna and flora of the park. The first part of the visit will take you to see the red colobus monkeys where the adults and babies interact on the trees.
You will visit the tropical forest with its giant trees, while your guide will explain all you need to know about the forest.
At the end of the visit, you will be walking through a mangrove forest where you will learn about different kinds of mangrove trees and the marine life that inhabit these mangroves.
• Closed shoes are recommended to walk in the forest.
• It is possible to buy local food next to the reception area.
• Toilets are available.
Zanzibar is a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean that offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy its extremely rich marine life. In the southern part we find the quiet village of Kizimkazi that every day attracts more visitors who come here to see and swim with the dolphins. Bottlenose and humpback dolphins can be seen almost on a daily base at a close distance from the shore.
The tour is organized by a small local fisherman companies, so the profits made from it help to support the local community. The tour might be a bit contradictable to marine preservation as these fisherman have very limited education in that areas.
The best time for dolphin watching is early in the morning, so for people staying in Nungwi, it is recommended to leave around 6 am. The drive to the south of the island takes around 2 hours and some fruits and water will be offered during the ride. Once arrived at the harbor, a basic local breakfast will be provided.
Mask, snorkel and fins will be supplied before going on board. Although seeing the dolphins is not guaranteed 100%, the chances of seeing them are very high. Depending of the season, the surface water temperature can be quite high so the dolphins will prefer to spend more time in the deep than on surface.
It is possible to swim and interact with the dolphins although they are wild animals and they will be sometimes shy with visitors. This can also depend of the number of tourists trying to swim with them. Very often the dolphins will swim away from the boats, so good swimmers have better chances to get a closer look. Visitors will find themselves jumping on and off the boat in order the get where the dolphins are.
The duration of this activity is approximately 2 hours on a small boat.
• Although the boats are covered, sun cream is recommended for the time you will spend in the water. If a covered boat was not provided please ask to change.
• Your belongings can get wet so leave any valuables in the car.
• Be informed than the snorkel equipment provided by the fisherman is not always in the best conditions so it is recommended to bring your own or borrow it from Spanish Dancer Divers.
• No water is provided on board so bring your own. We have water in the car.
• It is dangerous to free dive with the dolphins as there could be many boats around and you have no signaling device.
• Only good swimmers should try to swim with the dolphins.
• There are pay toilets and showers at the parking area although the showers rarely work.
Excursions in Zanzibar are offered by small local community enterprises which are not connected directly to Spanish Dancer Divers. Though our driver will be with you all day to attend all your needs and make sure you are having a great time, Spanish Dancer Divers cannot be held responsible for any problem occurred during the tours. If you are happy with your visits you are welcome to tip your guide but remember it is optional and not obligatory.