Zanzibar is a holiday destination on every sun-seekers’ bucket list. Whether you’re picturing yourself lounging on the silky soft beaches for days on end with your partner, or splashing around in the warm, clear waters with the kids, there’s no doubt that this Tanzanian island is what dreams are made of!
Read on to discover its brief history, along with a few recommendations of what to do from the Flight Centre team for those moments when you manage to tear yourself away from the beach.
A brief history of Zanzibar
The island has been occupied for over 20 000 years! The Omanis and Yemenis were the first traders to settle on the island due to the fact that it offered a defensible harbour and was a convenient point from which to trade with the Swahili Coast. During the age of exploration, this island was overtaken by the Portuguese Empire, which held onto control of the island for over 200 years, following which the region was seized by the Sultanate of Oman in 1698, which built an economy of trade ruled by an Arab elite. Many years later, this country fell under the control of the British Empire, and it became a British protectorate in 1890 following the short but brutal Anglo-Zanzibar War.
It managed to gain independence from the British in December of 1963. However, just one month after this achievement, a group of African revolutionaries overthrew the government in the Zanzibar Revolution, leading to the formation of the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba, which then merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania as we know it today.
Nowadays, the vast majority of inhabitants are Muslim and speak Swahili. The economy is extremely reliant on tourism, as well as on the trade of raffia and spices.
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Uncovering Idyllic Zanzibar - what to do on your holiday
You will probably be wondering what could be better than sipping on cocktails in the shade of a tall and leafy palm tree, but the truth is that island has a lot more to offer its visitors than just its many beaches.
Here are a few other activities that should be given pride of place in your itinerary.
Take a spice tour
This island makes a huge portion of its money through the export of local spices. Why not learn more about the island’s history, culture, and cuisine through a tour of the spice farms, nestled among the peaceful local villages? Along with appreciating the fusion of aromas, you’ll also have the opportunity to taste the spices for yourself. Many sought-after spice tours include a lunch, which allows for the opportunity to tuck into a traditional Swahili dish and wash it down with a steaming cup of spiced tea.
Exploring Stone Town
Stone Town is often lovingly referred to as the ‘historic heart’ of Zanzibar and it’s where you’ll find an interwoven maze of streets packed full of hidden treasures. Stop by the evening food market hosted in Forodhani Gardens to sample local delicacies, visit Darajani Bazaar for endless options when it comes to souvenirs and gifts, or scope out some of the most sought-after historical and cultural sites, such as the Old Dispensary, the Arab Fort, and Malindi Mosque.
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Wining and dining at rooftop restaurants
What could be better than eating a fragrant bowl of briyani or a spicy mchuzi wa pweza (octopus curry)? Do so with a mesmerising view as the backdrop, of course! Rooftop restaurants are extremely popular in this country and provide visitors with the opportunity to tick two things off of their bucket list – developing a taste for the local cuisine and appreciating the expansive beauty of the island.
Once you have achieved a blissful sense of peace as a result of lounging around on the beaches day in and day out, you may be in the mood for a small dose of adrenalin. Kitesurfing is definitely the way to go. Luckily, most of the regions boast enough wind for a memorable kitesurfing adventure, and you shouldn’t struggle to find travel suppliers nearby that can provide you with the lessons and equipment necessary to ensure both your safety and your enjoyment.
Visit Prison Island
Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, is undoubtedly one of the most stunning Zanzibar islands out there. Not only is it in close proximity to Stone Town (just a 30-minute boat ride away), but it is also home to an enticing local attraction – namely the large groups of giant land tortoises that can be found meandering along the beaches and savouring the sunshine at most times of the day. The island is also rich in marine life, making it a go-to for beginner and experienced snorkellers and divers alike.
You can visit Zanzibar today!
There is nothing stopping you from travelling to Zanzibar for a tranquil holiday in paradise. The islands are currently open to South African travellers with minimal restrictions in place.
Now is the time to make your travel dreams come true!
Contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert for up-to-the-minute advice, unmissable travel deals and total peace of mind when making any booking.