A leisurely walk through the colourful bazaar of Zanzibar’s Stone Town, rich with the fragrance of exotic spices and bristling with life, eventually leads the distinguished visitor to the harbour, where the 19th century residences of the British Consul and the Chinese Doctor still stand today, door to door and restored to their original glory to accommodate a luxury hotel. Back in the heydays of African exploration, led by adventurers such as Dr. David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley, Samuel Baker, Richard and Isabel Burton, every expedition into the heart of Tanzania and beyond set out from the harbour front of Zanzibar island, with the usually calm and glistening waters a deceptive allusion to the adventures to come.
Just outside Stone Town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site stands Livingstone House, built in 1860 and aptly named for the famous missionary and explorer whose exploits on the continent are forever linked to the island paradise of Zanzibar. During his extensive safaris on the dark continent beyond the shorelines of Tanzania, Dr. David Livingstone used his island retreat as a base and equally distinguished explorers soon followed his lead to utilise his residence as the staging point for their own expeditions into the interior of Africa.
Today, Zanzibar is an autonomous state within the United Republic of Tanzania and the name itself was originally derived from a combination of two Arabic words: Zenj meaning black and bar, meaning land, hence the ancient title Land of the Blacks. The tropical climate of this island paradise, its golden beaches, turquoise waters and colourful bazaars, rich with the fragrance of exotic spices and bristling with life, are a temptation the perceptive traveller will find difficult to resist.
Walking on endless beaches with tall coconut palms casting their long shadows over the white sands and hammocks swaying in the warm breeze, while tropical birds flit about the lush green leaves and pendulous fruits high above. And for the more action oriented visitor, favoured beach activities range from volleyball to horse riding, windsurfing, kite surfing and scuba diving; with the channels between Zanzibar and Pemba Island recognised to offer some of the most dramatic scuba diving opportunities in the world: coral reef pillars dropping away into the abyss below and dolphins splashing about on the surface above, this is a diving enthusiasts wonder world realized.
Wether one travels to the northern popular Nungwi Peninsular with its dhow building yards, coral lagoons and turtle aquarium or to the southern end of the island with its remote and rugged beaches, picturesque villages and the dolphin safari at Kizimkazi, there are adventures and activities in Zanzibar to suit all tastes.