Despite its tiny size and obscure location, Zanzibar holds an almost legendary status among travelers as an exotic island paradise blessed with palm fringed shores, timeless fishing villages and lush spice plantations. Although a mere stone’s throw from the mainland, Zanzibar has an identity all of its own, shaped by a turbulent history which abounds with a colourful cast of characters, from slave traders and sultans to pirates and princess.
Zanzibar’s history stretches back to when the first dhows from Arabia and India discovered its natural harbour. Using the island as a stop over point for caravans that journeyed deep into the African interior, permanents settlement soon created the beginnings of what became Stone Town. Merchants from Oman, Gujarat and around Indian Ocean moved their families from across the ocean to start life in Zanzibar, some building great fortunes with which they built the high stone houses so indicative of Stone Town today. Although Swahili Civilization in the area of the Kilwa Kisiwani further south peaked in the 14th century, Zanzibar’s prosperity came much later, with the arrival of the Oman sultans in the 18th century. From this tiny island, slaves relinquished their last hopes of freedom, mighty empires were built, battles waged and merchants amassed vast fortunes on the strength of the fragrant clove bud. Today, life in Zanzibar has settled down to a more sedate pace, but the legacy of its tumultuous past remains.
Remnants of the hey-day of Swahili civilization in Zanzibar still remain; vestiges of a vanished past that people still look to with a sense of heritage and pride. In Stone Town, House of Wonders greets visitors arriving by sea, a grand building once used by the sultan for his administrative duties. His town palace stands adjacent to it, the walkways that connected the two buildings still in dilapidated existence. Nearby, the Portuguese Fort recalls the brief occupation of the island by foreign rule, while the nearby Anglican Cathedral built over the site of the old slave market soothes the wounds of a sobering past. Today, Stone Town is as much of an attraction for visitors as Zanzibar’s beaches, world-renowned for their idyllic seascapes and island charm. Guests have their pick of beaches famed for their tropical climate and soothing crystal-clear waters. Swahili fishing villages, snorkeling, diving, or just beachcombing offer perfect choices of relaxing itineraries.
For cultural connoisseurs, it’s best to time a visit around one of Zanzibar’s many festivals. Vibrant occasions occur throughout the year, days of celebration when the island and its people truly come alive. The annual ZIFF Festival of the Dhow Countries film festival and the Sauti za Busara Swahili Music Festival are the main attractions, with the Swahili festival of Mwana Kongwa not to be missed.
Yes, there’s more to Zanzibar than the main Island of Unguja. To the north, Pemba Island offers world-class diving pristine surrounding s. Accommodation ranges from the most basic to the utmost in
barefoot luxury and our visitors agree that a visit to Pemba is well worth the effort. To the south is the little-known Mafia Island, its reefs affording perfect diving in tranquil surroundings. Covered in coconut palms and abandoned fruit groves left by Arab merchants’ centuries before, Mafia’s charm is unique to the Swahili coast, its shores untouched by development or change. Other smaller islands surround Unguja, the main island in the archipelago, and make pleasant day trips for visitors from Stone Town.
JCCE Tours & Safaris welcomes you to Zanzibar to experience the hospitality of the Swahili people,the beauty of the island, and the lasting mystique of its regal history. Come visit Zanzibar, and you will understand why century after century, travelers have come to its shores in search of magic and romantic. https://www.facebook.com/pages/JCCE-Tours-Safaris-Co-Ltd/195149410544854