Zanzibar Island

Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba islands and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast and 6 degrees south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (know locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs and the magic of historic Stone Town - said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.

Wildlife

There are no large wild animals in Zanzibar, and monkeys, bush pigs and small antelopes inhabit forest areas such as Jozani. Civets - and rumour has it, the elusive Zanzibar leopard and various species of mongoose can also be found on the island. There is a wide variety of bird life and a large number of butterflies in rural areas. The coral reefs that surround the east coast are rich in marine diversity and make Zanzibar an ideal location for snorkelling and scuba diving.

People, Religion and Language

Zanzibar's local people are an incredible mixture of ethnic backgrounds, indicative of her colourful history. Islam is the dominant religion, and practiced by most Zanzibaris, although there are also followers of Christianity and Hinduism. Population is estimated at 800,000, with the largest concentration being Zanzibar City, which has approximately 100,000 inhabitants. Zanzibaris speak Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili), a language that is spoken extensively in East Africa. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar, as it is the birthplace of the language.

Economy

Fishing and agriculture are the main economic activities of the local people. Zanzibar was once the world's largest produces of cloves, and her economy was based on large incomes thus derived. Although cloves are still a major export along with coconut products and spices, tourism has been earmarked as the primary foreign exchange earner with more visitors coming to Zanzibar every year. At this stage, the numbers are still low (less than 100,000 annually) and the potential for tourism is relatively untapped. We are dedicated to sensitive tourism that benefits both visitors and the community, without losing the romance and magic that is Zanzibar.

This tour takes you through fabled Stone Town, with visits to the House of Wonders, the Palace Museum (People's Palace), Dr Livingstone's House and the Arab Fort among others-it is a fascinating look at the essence of Zanzibar. You will see Zanzibar's bustling market, winding alleyways, ornately carved and studded doors, two cathedrals and countless mosques!

Once the site of a gaol for misbehaving slaves. The island lies just off the Old Stone Town and is home to giant tortoises that were imported from the Seychelles in the late 19th century. It is fringed with a beautiful coral reef, ideal for snorkelling, and has a lovely white beach for sunbathing. The island is ideal for a day trip with refreshments available throughout the day. It also has a small restaurant where you can enjoy freshly caught fish.

The history of Zanzibar would be incomplete without the cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and many other spices Zanzibar is famous for. They can be seen in the plantations just outside Zanzibar town, and a good tour includes opportunities for to dazzle the senses with fresh spices. A detailed description is given about a variety of spices, and their uses in cooking and cosmetics.

The Jozani Natural Forest Reserve is home to the rare Red Colobus Monkey, which is endemic to Zanzibar. These monkeys are full of character, and roam freely. Jozani is also home other species including Syke's monkeys, small buck and bushpigs. The elusive Zanzibar leopard (last sighted several years ago) is said to feed here at night. Jozani has an excellent nature trail and the guides are well trained and informative.

Situated on the southern point of the island, Kizimkazi fishing village is home to several schools of bottle-nosed dolphins which can often be sighted following a short boat trip from the village. If you are lucky, you may be able to swim quite close to the dolphins, which can be a very rewarding experience. Kizimkazi is also the site of a 12th century mosque, the earliest evidence of Islam in East Africa, and is thus worth a visit for both natural and cultural reasons.

Tours to the unspoiled North Coast always end up at Ras Nungwi, a sleepy fishing village on the northern tip of Zanzibar Island. It is the dhow building capital of Zanzibar, so you will be able to see the traditional methods of dhow construction in action. This area of Zanzibar has some fantastic beaches, and nearby coral reefs which are ideal for diving and snorkelling. The local villagers have built a turtle sanctuary where injured turtles and other marine animals are nursed back to health before being released back into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.