“The culture and traditions of Zanzibar in 8days.”
A trip to Zanzibar, one of the most exotic places that holds some sort of mystery. Zanzibar proved to be the unexpected. I thought it as paradise but quickly learned that paradise was just at my hotel resort and the real reality of Zanzibar was just outside the hotel gate.
My trip consisted of pretty much exploring the beauty of Zanzibar and why Zanzibar is Zanzibar? However, most importantly I would say it was a pleasure to have spent 8days on that island, even though we arrived and I encountered visa issues when we landed; technology wasn’t on my side. I must say the island life is a little bit slow, much slower than the western life but it’s all worth the wait eventually. After a few back and forth with the staff at the airport, I was finally able to embark on this journey of Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is a Tanzanian island on the east coast of Africa. It holds so much history and it has so much Islamic influence. Majority of the Zanzibari’s speak Swahili and with a regular few that speak English. Zanzibar is known for its historic town of Stone Town, Spices and it’s beautiful beaches.
During our stay, we took time to leave our paradise bubble and escape to see the real Zanzibar which is found in Stone Town. We spent the day exploring this town and learning so much about the history. Stone town is rich of history and it was a declared a World Heritage Site in 2000. People of Zanzibar are Muslims and all the women of Zanzibar were dressed in clothes that covered their hair and body and you could easily spot out tourists women by the dressing.
The stone town tour consisted of markets such as old slave market & Darajani market, A historic & culture walk takes you through the House of Wonders, the Old Fort and the Sultan’s Palace. We started with the fish market known as Darajani market were we saw all kinds of seafood. For all those seafood lovers, you would definitely appreciate that but I for one didn’t enjoy seeing all the crabs, prawns, calamari and the likes just laid out in the open. We headed down into the streets for shopping and started our historic journey where we got to understand why it’s called Stone Town and here’s why; Stone Town’s buildings were pretty much built with actual coral stones, no cement just pure stone. It’s also known for its narrow streets with views of temples, mosques, churches and palaces. However, these narrow streets are full of this amazing atmosphere that’s oozes out from the people and the buildings, the atmosphere is a mix of African, Arabic, Indian and European culture that is beautifully mixed together.
Stone town is truly a must visit during your stay in Zanzibar, as you learn so much about the sultans who were Zanzibar rulers in the 18th/19th century and the Arab slaving history, also you get to understand why it was one of the worlds largest slave port in the vast of Indian Ocean slave trade. The House of Wonders or Palace of Wonders is a landmark building in Stone Town. I believe it is the largest and tallest building of Stone Town and it has this huge carved door. At this current moment I believe it is the national history and culture museum and undergoing renovation but the House of Wanders was built for ceremonial purposes during the sultan days.
Once the tour was done, we boarded a boat and visited prison island, which is just 20-30mins boat ride away from stone town seafront. Arriving on the island you get to see this beautiful rustic wooden bridge jutting into the azure blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
This Island was previously used by the Arab slave merchants as a place if were they would detain slaves and would be later used as a prison of Stone Town. However, I was told by our guide that the prison was never used leading to it later becoming a quarantine station. The building still stands and is a hot historic attraction of the island together with the giant tortoise sanctuary. The giant tortoises are amazingly friendly and you get the opportunity to feed them too during feeding hour. This island is particularly small but incredibly surrounded by a beautiful coral reef that is ideal for snorkelling as well as a lovely white sandy beach banks.
Paradise in Zanzibar
Zanzibar is truly different, a paradise atmosphere allowing you to see Africa differently; not your typical safari or mountain holiday that Africa is mostly known for. You can soak up the sun, relaxing by the white sandy beach or if you fancy an adventure you could go snorkelling or Scuba-diving around Mnemba Island.
Mnemba Island is 3km away from the north coast of Zanzibar, it’s also known as “Mnemba Atoll”. This island has a beautiful coral reef that was declared a marine conservation area. The coral reef has a variety of species such as turtles, sea horses, fishes and dolphins, *Funny Fact* we found Nemo. Our guide told us the island is owned by Bill Gates and obviously, it costs a hell of a lot just to spend a night on the island and a Zanzibarian will probably never ever afford the luxury to stay on Mnemba Island. It’s beautiful I must say if you ever get a chance to visit Zanzibar definitely board a boat to the island as it’s so serene. However, you can not go to the island premises cause it’s private but 200yards isn’t so bad as you will be snorkelling around the island which is paradise.
We were based in Kendwa, north coast of Zanzibar. We stayed at a beautiful hotel called Gold Zanzibar but we neighboured the tourist-popular accommodation which is Kendwa Rocks. It’s ever so lively and the highlight was the Halloween theme of Michael Jackson thriller night. I must say it’s true that the most beautiful beaches of Zanzibar are in the north coast.
The locals were also friendly and eager to make you feel welcomed and be part of them. We definitely felt the welcome and secured when we sat on the beach, didn’t meet any crooks that were out to cheat tourist which was a pleasure to be around.
One thing we spotted is that greeting does matter. The locals are always quick to greet you by using the following “Jambo” or “Mambo” and it very easy to pick up Swahili while you’re out there.
Why should you visit Zanzibar ?
1). Unique and vibrant culture
2). Beautiful historic architecture buildings
3). White blissful beaches
4). Friendly locals