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Zanzibar travel guide

Zanzibar: without doubt one of the most evocative words in a traveller's vocabulary

Languishing just off mainland Tanzania in the turquoise-blue Indian Ocean, the island of Zanzibar conjures images of perfect, palm-swayed beaches, white sand, billowing sailing boats and smiling locals.

The jewel of Africa’s 3,500km Swahili Coast, Zanzibar was long a key hub on ancient trade routes: slaves, spices, ivory and more all passed through Zanzibar, bound from the continent for Arabia and beyond. This lead to Zanzibar becoming a cultural melting pot – still in evidence today, in the Omani-style buildings, in the polyglot Kiswahili language and the diverse dishes on the restaurant menus.

So understandably Zanzibar is popular, but away from the busy coastal resorts you can still find quiet coves, dense mangroves and traditional villages to fulfill your shipwreck fantasies.

Wanderlust recommends

  • Head out on a walking tour around the bazaars, Omani architecture and atmospheric alleys of Stone Town, the historic heart of Zanzibar
  • Dive or snorkel the Indian Ocean reefs, looking out for turtles and whale sharks
  • Interact with the islanders on a Jambiani Village Tour: scale coconut palms and meet the local ‘medicine man’
  • Take an aromatic walk with a local guide on a spice plantation tour
  • Delve into JozaniChwaka Bay National Park, Zanzibar’s only national park, to see mangrove swamps and colobus monkeys
  • Sit back and relax with a Tusker beer on an idyllic Indian Ocean beach
  • Sail out from Stone Town at sunset on a dhow (traditional sailing boat)

Wanderlust tips

  • Spices should be bought fresh from the market rather than pre-packed in tourist shops.
  • If diving/snorkelling do not touch or take any coral or creatures.
  • Zanzibar is a Muslim island so dress appropriately – cover shoulders and upper legs.
  • Ask permission before photographing people and don’t eat or drink in public during Ramadan.

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