It is a place of fine, powder-like sand, paradise beaches, clear blue water, and the scent of cloves and cinnamon in the air. Discover the Island of Zanzibar, also known as Unguja.
A pearl necklace
Beata Lewandowska-Kaftan, a traveller and geographer, in her book titled “Zanzibar – wyspa skarbów. Opowieści ze świata Suahili” (“Zanzibar – a treasure island. Tales from the Swahili world”) describes a local legend about the origins of the Island. Queen Saba, during her voyage across the ocean, made a promise to come back to this place.
To validate her word, she threw a pearl necklace into the waves… an act that the ocean considered too small sacrifice for the kindness of waves and the favour of the wind. That is why the queen decided to give it a chest filled with jewels. The chest opened when hitting the ocean floor, with its treasure turning into the islands of Zanzibar Archipelago…
The warm water of the Indian Ocean in the shades of turquoise, an extremely fine sand on the East coast and undisturbed relaxation in the shade of exotic palms – Zanzibar is surely a true summer paradise. More active travellers may try snorkelling and diving, as the waters surrounding the island are home to lively coral reefs, which present an extraordinary world in the crystal clear ocean with visibility up to 25 meters. The island is also rich in various centres that offer services of exploring reefs for both amateur and professional divers. It is also a great chance to enjoy the sight of a swaying shoal of bigeye trevally and encounter a group of friendly dolphins.
The main holiday resorts are Nungwi and Kendwa in the north-west, Matemwe and Kiwengwa in the northeast, Pingwe, Paje and Jambiani in the southeast and Kizimkazi in the south. The offer of hotels, motels, and guesthouses is quite wide in all price variants. Moreover, travelling around the island is not difficult, as it is possible to choose among such transportation means as taxis, public buses known as dala-dala or simply rent a car. There are large differences between the high and low tides on the eastern shores of the island. In some places, the beach completely disappears, whereas during the low tide the water moves back even by a few hundred meters.
The Island of spices
Zanzibar is home to condiments and a true spice island. It is here that you can learn that black, white and green pepper are seeds of the same plant, cloves are a remedy for a toothache, and ginger is an aphrodisiac. Spices are the main export product of the island and the basis of the local cuisine. The air is saturated with the aromas of cloves and cinnamon, with local bazaars encouraging to discover new flavours.
Tourists can even embark on Spice Tour that is a trip across spice plantations where they can learn about unusual uses for substances that we thought we knew well. It is worth knowing that spices are also used in medicine in Zanzibar.
A stone city
When on Zanzibar, a must-see place is the capital city, especially its oldest part called Stone Town. As its streets are so narrow that even a car cannot drive through, the locals travel by motorbikes and bikes. This district was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Fans of monuments will also not be disappointed, as the ocean shores next to Mizingani Street feature the 19th century sultan’s palace, where currently the museum of the history of Zanzibar is located. Other worth seeing monuments include the Old Fort, erected in 1699, and the House of Wonders from 1883 – both the largest and the highest monument of the Stone Town
It houses a museum dedicated to the culture of Swahili. When in the Stone Town, it is obligatory to visit the Forodhani Gardens, located by the sea in front of the House of Wonders, where a night market is organized. The most popular delicacy is Zanzibar pizza with original topping made of minced meat with chopped vegetables and egg (the dough resembles more Indian paratha than a pizza). Another interesting dish is Zanzibar mix soup – a kind of broth with ingredients to choose from pieces of meat, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, cassava, etc.