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What To Do

Stone Town
No visit to Zanzibar would be complete without a stop in the capital Stone Town. It is not very big, and consists of a maze of narrow alleys most of which cannot accommodate anything bigger than a moped (which as a pedestrian you share so you need to walk with care). The alleys are lined with shops, bazaars and mosques. Architecturally there is a real mix of styles, but probably the most notable are the finely decorated wooden doors with their distinctive large brass studs. Doors with rounded tops are of Indian design and often include lotus flowers. Omani/Arab style doors have rectangular tops and include carvings that are often Islamic in content. Stone Town also boasts a colourful fruit and vegetable market.

Chumbe Island Coral Park
A short boat ride from Zanzibar is Chumbe Island, a private nature reserve where you can enjoy snorkelling in their fully protected and stunning coral reef sanctuary, or take a nature walk around the island where you will see an abundance of bird life and other indigenous species.
Most visitors stay overnight at the island lodge but day trips are available (subject to availability).

Changuu Island
This small island just off the coast of Zanzibar and now a popular tourist attraction was originally used by Omani Arabs as a holding station for rebellious slaves before they were either shipped abroad or taken to Stone Town to be sold. When Zanzibar became a British Protectorate in the late 19th Century, the First Minister bought the island and set about building a prison. Although fully constructed, it was never to be used as a prison, instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever cases. And when it wasn't being used for this purpose, it became a popular holiday destination.

Today the island is home to a collection of endangered Aldabra Giant Tortoises (originally a gift from the British Governor in the Seychelles). Over the years the number of Tortoises have declined so they are now carefully protected with more being brought in from other locations to aide conservation. These beautiful creatures can now be seen wandering around the island, with the old prison being used as a convenient shelter. Visitors can also visit the prison and its cells.

The town of Mangapwani is located on the north west coast of Zanzibar. the shoreline contains a number of caves thought to be used by the Arabs to hold slaves. The caves are now a popular tourist attraction.

Bikhole Ruins
The Bikhole Ruins are the remains of a large house, built in the 19th Century on a clove plantation about 20km south east of Stone Town.

The road leading to the house is an avenue of Mango Trees, planted by Princess Bikhole (daughter of the Sultan). Whilst it is known that the trees were planted under her instruction, it is less clear as to the reason why. One of the most interesting rumours is that the Princess had a liking for beautiful young men and ordered a different species of Mango tree to be planted by a different desirable slave. Again, the rumour goes that her intention was to create an avenue that lead all the way back to Stone Town. Although this was never achieved, because no two species of Mango tree are planted next to each other, the avenue now offers the visitor a wonderful opportunity to see colours and fruit through out most of the year.

On reaching the ruins, it is clear that the house was built as a private residence, away from Stone Town and close to the sea. The house appears to have had several rooms including Persian-style baths were the Princess could relax after hunting. The house and gardens were in use up until around 1920 but unfortunately is now in ruins, with only the main walls still standing.

Dimbani (Kizimkazi)Mosque
Although originally founded in 1107, the Dimbani mosque underwent a major rebuilding programme in the 18th Century. However what remains of the original structure is reputed to be East Africa's most ancient mosque and the oldest surviving building in Zanzibar.

Dolphin Watching at Kizimkazi
The shallow coastal waters around Kizimkazi, now officially a protected area, has been the home for dolphins for many years. Two species of dolphin are resident in the area, the bottlenose dolphin and the humpback dolphin. Both reside here because there is a reliable food supply and is a good place to nurse their calves. The bottlenose dolphins are resident all year and are the more sociable of the two species. Traditional wooden fishing boats will take tourists to see and even swim with these creatures.

Dunga Palace
East of Stone Town lies the ruins of Dunga Palace. The site, as well as its historical significance, offers views over much of the island. Unlike Zanzibar's other palaces, which were built by the Omani Sultanate, Dunga was the last seat of the traditional rulers of Zanzibar, the Wawinyi Wakuu. Tradition links the Wawinyi Wakuu to Shirazi settlers from Persia who arrived over 1000 years ago, and with whom Zanzibar's original inhabitants intermarried to create the Hadimu tribe.

The palace was built in the early 19th century by Hasan bin Ahmad al-Alawi. It was built around a central courtyard, and was originally two storeys high with a roof top garden and stained glass windows. Unfortunately the palace was demolished in 1910 and only ruins can be seen now. However it is worth noting that in the 1920s some excavation work was undertaken with some interesting discoveries. These included finding drums and horns, traditional emblems of power throughout the Swahili coast. Also discovered was a well, half filled with human skeletons, possibly the victims of an archaic belief that mixing blood with mortar would ensure the solidity of a buildings foundations.

Jozani Forest
South East of Stone Town lies the Jozani Forest. This 50 sq. km forest contains several habitats including swamp forest, evergreen thickets, mangroves, and salt tolerant grassland. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including Sykes and red colobus monkeys, bush pigs, suni antelope, elephant shrews and plenty of birdlife.

Perhaps the forest's most famous and endearing residents is the red colobus with over half of the world's population residing within the National Park. This is one of the rarest monkeys in Africa, with numbers less than 2,000. Some troops or groups of monkeys inhabit low vegetation, coming close to the ground and affording the visitor excellent chances for viewing these rare animals.

Spice Tours
Spices have been present in Zanzibar for hundreds of years, but first took prominence in the early 16th century when the Portuguese began importing them from their colonies in South America and from India. However, Zanzibar didn't become a fully flourishing spice producing country until the Omani Arabs arrived some 200 years later and realised that the hot climate and regular rainfall made it a great location for spice farming. By the late 19th century (and following the abolition of slavery) spices became the main source of income in Zanzibar.

Spices are still very important in Zanzibar, they are used not only for cooking, but also to cure everyday ailments and to use as dyes and for cosmetic products.

A visit to Zanzibar should include a trip to one of the many spice farms where you will get the opportunity to walk around the plantations and enjoy the smells and tastes of some of the many spices available. It is also a great way to see the countryside.

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