Saturday, 15 June 2013

Zanzibar - The Spice Islands

Zanzibar is a unique place that draws you back. 

An immense sense of history pervades the main Island Unguja, from the first Portuguese explorers  through to the rule of the Omani Arabs and  Livingstone’s last lodging before he left for the interior.

The magical Stone Town is now a UNESCO world heritage site, and the cathedral of Christ Church  built on the site of one of Africa’s biggest slave markets with the altar sited over the location of the main whipping post.  The Cathedral also holds a wooden cross made from the tree under which Livingstone’s heart was buried at Chitambo.

It is also as everyone keeps reminding you  the birthplace of the Parsi - Farrokh Bulsara whose family practised the Zoroastrian religion first brought to these Island's by Persian traders around the time of the decline of the Roman Empire. Farrokh was better known to the wider world as Freddie Mercury – lead singer of Queen.

On the beach
Zanzibar also comprises the smaller island of Pemba to the north of the main Island.  Here there are far fewer visitors, but many who do come, often across vast distances are there as students. Pemba remains an important centre of learning for voodoo and traditional healers.

Stone Town remains a must see and my favourite place to stay is the great Emersons House, a restored Omani Palace. 

The east coast beaches border crystal clear waters and the smell of cloves drifts across the Islands from the plantations.

seaweed farming



There are many layers to the history and culture of this place including a volatile political record since independence from Britain in 1963.

When you scratch the surface, there is a great deal more to these islands than most travellers will ever see.