Home to a diverse array of wildlife and a rich cultural history
There are enough activities to spend every day of your holiday experiencing a different facet of Zanzibar. From ancient giant tortoises on Changuu Island to sunset cruises on traditional Dhow boats, from Jozanai forest with the indigenous and invariably sleepy Colobus monkeys to the labyrinth of streets in the ancient quarter of Stone Town.
Diving and SnorkellingThe coral reefs off Tanzania’s coast around Zanzibar and Mafia Island offer some of the world’s finest scuba diving and snorkelling. Diving is possible all year round, although the Kusi Monsoon (strongest June-Sept) is accompanied by choppy seas and strong currents that make the more exposed reefs inaccessible. There can also be strong winds in December and January. Visibility is best from November to March, before the long rains set in.
KitesurfingKitesurfing has become the hottest activities in Zanzibar with Kitesurfing centres are springing up all along the east coast. Kitesurfing is immensely fun, hugely addictive and incredibly exhilarating. Sessions can be arranged at all levels from your first time up.
Spa TreatmentsThe perfect way to ease tired limbs after an exhilarating day’s game viewing or in preparation for the beach, there are now many hotels, resorts and lodges in Tanzania and Zanzibar offering world class spa facilities to keep you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Chumbe Island Coral ParkFeatured in the BBC ‘Oceans’ series, this pioneering eco-lodge leads the way in global conservation efforts through careful monitoring and removal of invasive foreign species such as the ‘Crown-of-Thorn’ starfish. They have managed to conserve some pristine and diverse reef habitat using tourism revenues from the lodge. We highly recommend a couple of nights stay at the Chumbe Island Coral Park, but if this isn’t possible, then day trips are also on offer, where you can enjoy guided interactive talks through the intertidal area and forested interior as well as snorkelling with professional and knowledgeable park rangers.
Stone TownWalk through the narrow streets and capture the feeling of the old colonial Arabic Architecture of Stone Town, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Darajani Market with its array of fruits, vegetables and meat, as well as many other items. Walk to the Khanga Market where a heady selection of African crafts and designs. Marvel at the filigree work in gold and the superb gemstones such as the famous Tanzanite at the Jewellery Market. Visit the famous Hamamni Baths, which are by far the largest and among the best preserved historic monuments of Zanzibar. Walk through a part of town in which we find particularly beautiful Zanzibar doors and enjoy a traditional cup of authentic Zanzibar coffee.
Jozaani Forest and Butterfly SanctuaryNo visit to Zanzibar is complete without a visit to the Jozani Forest. You will have the opportunity to walk through a natural forest and to view the rare Red Colobus Monkeys (only found in Zanzibar). This is a great opportunity for keen photographers, as you are able to get extremely close to the Monkeys. Enjoy a walk through the Mangroves and you may even be lucky to see the Elephant Shrew that is endemic to Zanzibar, hiding in the shrub.
Just a few hundred meters down the road is the Zanzibar Butterfly Conservation Project. Local farmers are paid to collect these rare species and bring them to the centre for breeding programmes. Walk around the netted enclosure surrounded by fluttering colour.
The Rock Restaurant ZanzibarLocated off shore in the South East, near the village of Pingwe lies the iconic sight of The Rock Restaurant Zanzibar. The Rock Restaurant is perched literally upon a small coral rock just slightly out to sea and is accessible by boat (and occasionally by wading at low tide). It is no surprise that restaurant’s speciality is seafood, all served with a distinctly Zanzibari twist. There is a good selection of both soft and alcoholic drinks, including champagne. Eating at The Rock Restaurant is all about the experience of enjoying a romantic meal surrounded by outstanding beauty – ‘edge of the world magic’.
Turtle Conservation ProjectNungwi is the dhow building centre of Zanzibar and is also home to the island's highly successful turtle conservation project. Turtle conservation is managed locally by rearing rescued hatchlings, promoting education amongst local fishermen and encouraging their safe release when accidentally caught. A turtle release always represents a celebration for the community and the village.
Swimming with DolphinsThe shallow coastal waters around Kizimkazi in the Menai Bay Conservation area is a place where dolphins are regularly seen, they come here for the reliable food supply, to nurse their calves, rest and socialize. Several bottlenose pods stay at Kizimkazi all year-round. We also see the shyer humpback dolphins. We operate responsible tours to find the dolphins about twice a week, early in the morning. Snorkeling equipment and life jackets are provided and the dive master knows how to behave in a way that the dolphins are not disturbed.
Big Game FishingThe water around Zanzibar and Pemba islands is considered by experts to offer some of the best fishing in the world, especially the Pemba Channel, between Zanzibar and Pemba, and around Mafia Island, south of Zanzibar. Big game fish include barracuda, kingfish, sailfish, billfish, wahoo, dorado and blue marlin. Rivers are stocked with trout around Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru. Large rivers such as the Kilombero and Great Ruaha offer fabulous sport fishing for tiger fish, and large Nile perch can be caught in the great lakes, especially Lake Victoria.
Yoga in ZanzibarYoga is available around Zanzibar and the tropical climate lends itself perfectly to this type of activity. Historically the small islands off the west coast of Zanzibar have been used as a health retreat for people suffering from bronchial and breathing disorders, owing to the quality of the air. Yoga is available at many of Zanzibar’s best hotels, for example Breezes and Baraza who have their own resident yogi from India. Elsewhere on the island you can also find excellent teachers such as Jo Fox, an internationally accredited teacher who travels the island offering yoga in several different places including Mbweni Ruins, Kichanga Lodge, Paje by Night and even offers sessions for juniors and toddlers. Marisa based at Flame Tree Cottages also offers yoga retreat holidays and conducts yoga sessions on the roof at sunrise and sunset. At several of the private villa retreats such as Upendo you can even enjoy the luxury and exclusivity of booking a small group yoga holiday in a private villa.
Safari Blue TourThis tour explores the wildlife, isolated sandbanks and rugged island scenery of the Menai Bay Conservation Area. Safari Blue is a full day trip and includes use of top quality snorkelling equipment with guides and instructors, ice cold sodas, mineral water and beer, a delicious Zanzibari seafood lunch with grilled fish and slipper lobster, gastronomic fruit tasting, coffee and Amarula liqueur.
Set off in the morning from Fumba in a traditional lanteen sail and first set down on one of the beautiful sandbanks where one can relax, swim or snorkel the pristine coral reef, which teems with tropical sea life. Instruction is also available for beginners. After snorkelling enjoy cold drinks, fresh coconuts and local snacks.
After snorkelling, sail to Kwale island where you have a "desert island" restaurant. The buffet lunch includes fish, slipper lobster, calamari, rice and sauces all served hot from the grill. The crew also prepares and presents a gastronomic fruit tasting with a large selection of delicious tropical fruits. When the tide permits you can explore the natural lagoon found on Kwale island. The lagoon is surrounded by a mangrove forest and swimming in the lagoon makes for an unforgettable experience. The dhows are traditional sailing boats, hand-built from African mahogany and finished to the very highest standards. They are comfortable and well equipped with outboard engine, VHF marine radios, gas inflatable life jackets, sunshade, boarding ladder, waterproof bags and first aid kit. Safari Blue explores the Menai Bay Conservation Area, which is home to two different species of dolphins, the Indo-pacific humpback and the bottlenose. Guests are lucky enough to see dolphins on 85% of excursions. As Safari Blue comes to an end and we return by traditional lanteen sail, as the full splendour of the African sunset reveals itself.
Just a short hop accross the channel is the Tanzanian mainland, home to many famous iconic sites and natural wonders of the world
Hot Air Balloon FlightsFlights by balloon take off as dawn breaks over the Serengeti, the perfect silence of the early morning plains broken only by the soft roar of the balloon. Far below, wildebeest scatter, looking everywhere but up at the silent visitor that floats over their world. Giraffe stand next to acacia trees, untroubled by their airborne observers. After the thrill of landing, a champagne breakfast awaits, the air becoming warmer as the sun climbs in the sky and curious zebra look up from their grazing at the chink of cutlery in the still, warm bush.
Mountain ClimbingFor most climbers who visit Tanzania, the 5,869 m Kilimanjaro is the top prize. Mt Meru, another of Tanzania’s volcanic peaks, is also popular, with the varied animal and plant life to be found on its slopes a major draw. Meru is Africa’s fifth highest peak, with fabulous views of Mt Kilimanjaro and the Momela Lakes from the summit. The challenging ascent to the crater of Ol Donyo Lengai passes through some fantastic scenery, with panoramic views of the Rift Valley. The track to the top of Lengai is very steep, and a true challenge attempted only by hikers with a good level of fitness.
Boat SafariThe soft chug of an outboard engine, or the whispering flap of a canvas sail; boat safaris in Tanzania are a tranquil and relaxing way to watch wildlife. This is one of the best ways to see the Selous Game Reserve, up the huge muddy brown sweep of the Rufiji River, leopard whisking away from rocks at the boat’s approach. Sail into chimpanzee territory on a dhow, skimming over the fresh, crystal waters of Lake Tanganyika, or travel up the Wami River in Saadani, surrounded by amazing birdlife, hippos and crocodiles.
Wild WalkingA walk through the African bush is a wonderful way to experience Africa intimately. Smells and sounds become distinct and varied, and smaller creatures gain significance. They are no longer simply rushed past in the race for the bigger game. When larger animals do appear, they are met at eye level; the land is truly shared between humans and animals. Safety is not an issue – all walks are accompanied by armed, experienced guides and game rangers. Walks can be from a few hours to a full day with picnic lunch. Many hotels and camps will offer guided walks in the national parks or community areas.