What are you looking for

Close search

Visit Zanzibar

Most “paradise escape” wall calendars will have at least one photo of Zanzibar – it’s the epitome of a dreamy beach destination with white sands and majestic palms. Yet this Indian Ocean island is far from a stereotype: it’s packed with Arabic seafaring culture, intricately-spiced cuisine and a not-so-savoury slave trading history. 

Zanzibar is not one island, as is commonly thought. it’s a group of islands just off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa. There are two large main islands, Pemba and Unguja – the latter is sometimes informally referred to as “Zanzibar”. Both are easily accessible from Dar es Salaam by ferry or flight. 

Zanzibar is renowned for coral sand beaches and, further inland, lush rainforests that are home to the uniquely Zanzibarian red colobus monkey. The Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park is a great place to walk alongside these creatures and learn about the cooking and healing properties of plants. As is the island’s popular spice tour at Kizimbani or Kindichi, where you’ll visit local farms and sample vanilla bean, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. 

Zanzibar’s zest for spice dates back to the 16th century. The use of spices as seasonings in food was a status symbol; used as currency or for extravagant gifts. As such, the plantations of Zanzibar (which came to be known as “the Spice Island”) brought its Omani Arab sultans much wealth. Even today, the role of spice in everyday life is apparent – from the dark brown stain of henna on a bride's hands, to the palm frond peaks of a newly-built home.

Fun fact: The shortest war in history was waged in Zanzibar. The Anglo-Zanzibar War between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate took place on 27 August 1896. It lasted between 38 and 45 minutes before a ceasefire was called. 

The capital of Zanzibar is not Stone Town, as is commonly believed, it’s Zanzibar City. Stone Town is in fact the historic town within Zanzibar City.

Explore the winding white-washed streets of Stone Town for a cultural immersion. This Arabian-style labyrinth of narrow alleyways is mesmerising, as is its night market, when seemingly all of Stone Town comes out to eat, drink and be merry. Stone Town is also the departure point for most tours and ocean activities: snorkel from a traditional dhow or alongside pods of dolphins in the early morning light.

Note: if you’re a female traveller, you may find yourself plagued with the attentions of local young male “tour guides” who are difficult to shake – kindly but firmly refuse their companionship early, lest you be followed to and from your accommodation for the rest of your trip. 

Best for:

Active Travellers; Arts + Culture Lovers; Beach Bums; Couples/Honeymooners; Foodies; Luxury Travellers

Go there!

Popular Package
Africa
from R31,700 p/p sharing
9 Nights Best of Morocco with Insight Vacations
Add to suitcase
Africa
from R24,900 p/p sharing
11 DAY TOUR IN NAMIBIA WITH GERRIE PRETORIUS
Add to suitcase
Africa
from R24,900 p/p sharing
11 DAG TOER IN NAMIBIE MET GERRIE PRETORIUS
Add to suitcase
Africa
from R20,005 p/p sharing
Explore the majestic land of Egypt from the Pyramids of Giza and sailing the Nile River.
Add to suitcase
Log In to Access Your Suitcase

You need to log in to add packages to, and manage, your suitcase. Please log in or register.