Zanzibar, the stunningly pretty archipelago a stone’s throw away from the fierce safaris of Tanzania, has long been tempting tourists to the spice shores. This melting pot of mayhem is home to the UNESCO wonder of Stone Town, soft vanilla and cinnamon plantations that douse the surrounding air in sweetness and fresh coconut spilling out of the shells onto the pristine white sands flanked by the clearest blue you could ever imagine. This dream island is the perfect place to recoup after days tucked into the dusty depths of the bush which is why those blending a safari with beach style head for adventures in Zanzibar to find offbeat island activities far from the beating heart of the big five.
The Spice Tour
One of the most evocative and infamous things to do in Zanzibar is to tour the rich spice plantations that earned the island its sensory name. Meandering through trails and endless fields of cracked vanilla pods, cinnamon scented branches and jack fruits hanging heavy from the vines is a dreamy experience. You can watch the locals climb the trees, you can taste and touch everything in sight and you can listen to the stories unfold of the islands historic roots as a commercial trade hub.
The Mahogany Forest
Escape the broiling sun and escape into the rich mangrove heart of the mahogany forest in the lush greens and golds of the Jozani National Park. Home to the rare Red Colobus Monkey you can witness the tufty white creatures cuddling in the trees, you can push through the coral rag thickets and cross the boardwalk that leads from the forest to the sea where thousands of sparkling fishes glimmer in the nursery waters that cool your feet.
Image Source: By Olivier Lejade via Wikimedia Commons
Feel the beating of beautiful colored wings as you walk through the ethereal grace of the Butterfly Center. The community run project allows guests to get up close and personal with an array of endemic species at the same time as generating an income for the locals. Experiencing an amazing collection of kaleidoscope butterflies fluttering in and out of the dappled sunlight is like a waking dream especially when combined with fragrant flowers enticing the creatures from the sky and the backdrop of plush greenery glinting in the afternoon light.
Local Life in Bwejuu
Against the haze of a blue sky, a local woman wrapped in bright garments collects seaweed on the floury white shore where barefoot children run laughing and half naked across the sands. For those escaping the five-star resorts, the local village of Bwejuu is a breath of coconut-kissed fresh air. This traditional fishing village is scattered with thatched roof huts, wooden dhows out on the waters and palm weaving upon the beach, giving visitors a rare glimpse into the local way of life. You can eat fresh fish caught and cooked by the villagers and take a moment to reflect on the simpler things.
Image Source: By Kent MacElwee via Flickr
The Forodhani Gardens
When the moon casts her milky fingers over the bay, intrepid travelers should head for the heady delights of the night market at the Forodhani Gardens. Against the rushing sounds of the sea, you can find local food in every flavor as the fishermen hawk their goods over sizzling flames. Sipping a local sugarcane juice zested with lime is a must as is the famous Zanzibar pizza. Wandering through the stalls you can taste freshly grilled crab claws, stuffed chapatti and every color of vegetable glazed by the charcoal aroma and scent of sea salt. The locals crouch by gas-lit lanterns next to piles of fresh fruits oozing their citrusy aura and call to you to taste their wares, the ambiance is soft and buzzing at times rising to a crescendo and a carnival atmosphere that is there to be devoured.
Image Source: By Moongateclimber via Wikimedia Commons
Top Image Source: By David Berkowitz via Wikimedia Commons