Swahili Culture

Zanzibar is the epitome of Swahili culture, a crossroad of cultures, a melting pot of influences, where Africa, India and Arab meet. Zanzibar Archipelago was the centre for trade between the Middle East and Far East, trading in slaves, ivory, timber and gold, while importing spices, glassware and textile to East Africa.

Interesting areas that showcase the cultural influences of Arabs, Indians, Portuguese and Africans include: The Stone Town, House of Wonder, Spice Plantation, Jozani Forest, Dhow cruise and the Prison Island.

Stone Town

The Stone Town is the oldest part of Zanzibar.  Entire town was build of coral stone, lime and clay. The Stone Town has 45 mosques, Christian Churches and several Hindu Halls. Stone Town antique gallery and craft shops offer African and Oriental objects of art and wide range of souvenirs, sets of Zanzibar spices and aromatic oils.

House of Wonder “Beit el-Ajaib”
A ceremonial Palace for Sultan Barghash (ruled 1870-1888) built in 1883 by British Marine engineer. It was given that name “HOUSE OF WONDER” simply because it was the first house in East Africa to be electrified, an elevator and running water. Currently the House of Wonder is used as a museum.

Spice Plantation
Zanzibar, at times referred as the spice Island, throughout your the frequent stops on small farms of spices, cloves, flowering trees and plants, medicinal trees and varieties of mints.

Jozani Forest

The Jozani Forest covers nearly 3,000 hectares the forest has a rich diversity of vegetation – an idea of how Zanzibar before the introduction of large scale commercial plantations at beginning of 19th century. The forest is inhabited with about 1,000 rare Red Colobus Monkeys, living in large families of up to 50. The forest is also inhabited with more than 50 species of butterflies and 100 species of birds and almost all fauna found elsewhere in the Island is represented.

Old Slaves Market
Located at the Stone Town, the former slave chambers and the slave market used before slave trade was abolished in 1873. The holding cells show the history of slave trade and conditions they lived prior to being shipped. The Anglican Church is the first Church to be built in Zanzibar and was built on the site of the old slave market. One of the relicts on the Church is a wooden cross, made from the tree under which Dr. David Livingstone died in Chitambo, Zambia.

Prison Island
The Prison Island – Changuu – is visible from the Stone Town. Historically this small Island was used as point of concealment of Slaves and the Prison on the Island was built in the end of 19th century.  The Island endowed with nature, features attractive self-walking safari covering the Island in less than an hour, sand beaches for swimming and relaxing, and colourful coral reef for snorkelling. The Island is favourite to visit because of numbers of giant tortoises visiting it from Seychelles, some of whom age more than 100 years.