In Stone Town Tours
With visits to the House of Wonders, the Palace Museum, Dr Livingstone’s House, the Arab Fort, Anglican Cathedral, Hamamni Persian Baths, Peace Memorial Museum, amongst others. Sultan Barghash’s harem at Marahubi should be another rewarding trip. Stone Town has some excellent gifts shops with plenty of souvenirs and handicrafts to choose from. Once you start wandering through the streets of Stone Town, it won’t be long until you understand why this town was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and the town has changed very little in 200 years.
In Jozani Forest Reserve
This natural forest is the only forest left on the Unguja, the larger one of the twin Islands-Unguja and Pemba- that makes up Zanzibar. The actual reserve is a small, much modified ground-water forest, which includes 12hectar plantation. Some of the striking features of Jozani include the unique Red Colobus monkeys, Sykes monkeys, Bush babies, Duikers, Hyraxes, possibly the rare Zanzibar Leopard, over 50 species of butterflies, 40 species of birds and snakes such as the Olive-grass snake and the Black-spitting Cobra. There is a visitor’s centre on the main road to the south.
In Prison Island Tour
The ‘Prison Island’ is the most celebrated site of the offshore islands. This island was once owned by an Arab who used it for rebellious slaves. One of the best attractions on the Island is the giant tortoises suspected to have been introduced from Aldabra, an Atoll off the Seychelles. Also present is the Jozani forest a relatively small National Park said to host the only remaining rare endemic Red Colobus Monkeys. There is a tiny beach which disappears at high tide, but with spectacular coral reefs. The island itself is well-forested, nice for a walk, an ideal place for a day trip.
Kizimkazi Dolphin Tour
The most popular dolphin spotting location in Zanzibar is Kizimkazi. The site is a great spot for bottlenose and humpback dolphins. Kizimkazi village is located in the far south of Zanzibar Island and is a favourite hangout for dolphins that come here to feed, nurse their calves and refresh. Several bottlenose pods can be found here throughout the year. Although dolphin-spotting is a popular activity, sightings aren’t guaranteed and actually managing to swim with dolphins is a rare occurrence. Local tour operators at Kizimkazi usually organize boat excursions with local fishermen at guesthouses and lodges. A dolphin tour last 2-3 hours and the period between October and February presents the best time to see these extraordinary mammals.
Chumbe Island Coral Park
Chumbe Reef Sanctuary: the first declared Marine Protected Area of Tanzania, one of the world’s most beautiful coral gardens and the best preserved shallow reef on the East African Coast. The sanctuary has more than 200 species of pristine stone corals, more than 400 species of fish and regularly visiting turtles and dolphins. This spectacular reef can be observed by snorkeling under the guidance of trained Park Rangers. Snorkeling equipment is available on the island. [Please note that scuba diving on Chumbe is prohibited, unless for research purposes; however scuba excursions can be arranged for clients] Historical buildings: built by the British in 1904; these include the lighthouse, which offers breath-taking views of the Island and of Zanzibar, and the mosque that was built with an elaborate design and is still in use by the Chumbe team.
Sauti za Busara Swahili Music and Cultural Festival
‘Sauti za Busara’ means ‘songs of wisdom’ in Kiswahili, and this annual festival of Swahili music attracts the best musicians and performers in the region. Held in Zanzibar’s Stone Town, concerts are rich and vibrant mix of styles including traditional ngoma, taarab, kidumbak, mchiriku, rumba, “muziki wa dansi”, Swahili hiphop “bongo flava”, r’n’b, mystic and religious music, theatre, comedy and dance. Most concerts are held in the Old Fort adjacent to Forodhani Gardens and the House of Wonders, a scenic location perfect for soaking up a bit of Swahili culture. Held annually during the second weekend in February, the Sauti za Busara takes places over two to three days and features talent from all over East Africa with performances in music, theatre, and dance. The best of Swahili musical traditions are displayed and enjoyed, with an emphasis on past traditions, present interpretations, and future collaboration between artists and their communities.
Eid al-Fitr (in Kiswahili also called ‘Idi’ or ‘Sikuku,’ which means ‘celebration’) is the Muslim holiday that signifies the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It is without a doubt the central holiday of Islam, and a major event throughout Tanzania, but especially observed on the Swahili Coast and the Zanzibar Archipelago. Throughout Ramadan, Muslim men and women fast from sunrise to sunset, only taking meagre food and drink after dark. The dates for Eid al-Fitr vary according to the sighting of the new moon, but as soon as it is observed the fasting ends and four days of feasting and festivities begin. After dawn prayers on the first morning of Eid al-Fitr, the celebrations begin. Family members and friends come together to exchange gifts and special alms, called zakat al-Fitr, are given to the poor. Families walk in the streets, the children showing off their new clothes, and often the festivities are accompanied by traditional Swahili taraab music and much dancing.
‘Mwaka Kogwa’ is the traditional Shirazi, or Persian, New Year celebrations that takes place in Zanzibar and although the festival has its origins in the Zoastrian religion, the Zanzibaris have certainly taken it to heart, takes place at the end of July and celebrated in many parts of Zanzibar. it is in makunduchi that the ancient rites are most enthusiastically and elaborately followed it involves huge bonfires mocks fights with banana palms between the men and much banter between the women dressed in thire best and their menfolk. it is believed that since everyone has had a chance to vent their hard feeling the new year can be started with a clean slate and in harmony so each day ends with much feasting singing dancing and parties on the beach the festivities vary from village to village but it is at makunduchi that the biggest celebrations take place.
Zanzibar International Film Festival
The Festival of the Dhow Countries celebrates and promotes the unique culture that grew as a result of Indian Ocean trade and the wooden sailing dhow, and it was established in 1997. All nations in the shadow of the diaspora are included in the celebration, from Africa to the Indian Ocean. Contemporary artists, musicians, cultural troupes, photographers, and film makers from the dhow countries are showcased and their work promoted, discusses, awarded, and explored.
The highlight of the festival is the Zanzibar International Film Festival itself, a film competition that draws prestigious entries from the dhow countries of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The competition is judged by a panel of international figures and attracts more than one hundred entries in its separate categories. Film screenings take place around Stone Town, in various historical landmarks. Music, drama, and dancing performances also take place around the island and attract a large audience. During the festival, workshops, seminars, conferences, and a variety of cultural and arts-related programs are open to the public, with specific forums to attract and creatively empower women and children.
Eid al-Haj (also called Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Kebir) is the Islamic festival of the annual pilgrimage, or haj, to Mecca. It is the second major holiday of Islam and a three-day festival of feasting and celebration in all Muslim communities in Tanzania. Eid al-Haj remembers Ibrahim (Abraham in the western tradition) and his son Ishmael (Isaac in the western tradition), who was almost sacrificed to God in obedience with his commandments. For Muslims, this holiday is about sacrifice, faith, and honouring the prophet Ibrahim. Along the predominantly Muslim Swahili Coast, and especially on the islands of Zanzibar, each family sacrifices a goat or sheep to commemorate the sacrifice. A third of the meat is given to the poor, another third to family and friends, and the final third is kept by the family to be served in a lavish meal. Gifts are exchanged, prayers said and sermons attended, and after family and friends have visited each other the celebration culminates in a feast. Any family members or friends who made the pilgrimage to Mecca that year are welcomed home with much rejoicing. During the night there is live Swahili taraab music and much rejoicing. As with Eid al-Fitr, if you would like to visit Tanzania during Eid al-Haj, please note that the dates of the Islamic holiday change each year.