Zanzibar is the evocation of the exotic, an archipelago nestled in the Indian Ocean and a destination both legendary and mysterious.
The Island of Zanzibar lies 22 miles ( 40 km ) off the Tanzanian Coast. Just the name, Zanzibar evokes dreams of romance and mystery, and the reality will not disappoint the traveler bored with mass tourism, seeking an enlightening and enjoyable holiday experience.
The Island has long been a meeting place of the world and certainly where Arabia Meets Africa. Once the Centre of the slave and ivory trade, Zanzibar welcomed into its harbour ships loaded with goods from India and the Far East as well as Europe and America. An Indian Bazaar still operates on the island today, as well as the world's largest clove market.
The Oman Arabs who once ruled the Island left behind whitewashed architectural delights that are in great condition.
Among them are the Sultan's Palace, the Arab Fort, and the Beit el Ajaib ( House of Wonders ) which is Zanzibar's tallest building.
Visitors always remark that a journey to Zanzibar is like going back in time, the atmosphere is that of the age of colonialism and exploration, and the haunting ruins of the slave market are a pointed reminder of the era's exploitative extremes. The slaves would be marched here from the interior of the continent, sometimes over 1,000 miles.
On some days, hawkers would sell away as many as 600 lives. The Cathedral Church of Christ near the Persian-styled " Hammamni Baths ", was completed in 1879 on the site of an open slave market; it contains much of historical interest. To the south of Zanzibar is the walled city of Kizimkazi where ruins of Shirazi Mosque date as far as 900 years.
Access: From Dar es Salaam, a 1h30 hydrofoil crossing or a 20 minute flight.
Pemba ( Al Khudra) Island: Pemba is the second largest island of the Spice Archipelago, named Al-khudra, "the Green Island" by the Arabic mariners in reverence of the profusion of much fertility they encountered after their journey south along the arid coastline.
Delighted by their welcome, these same mariners founded a city at Ras Mkumbuu, possibly the oldest permanent settlement south of Lamu.
Pemba rises from the Indian Ocean on its own granite pedestal, a continental landmass in itself, topped with verdant hills capes that tumble through clove plantations to the signatory, pristine white beaches.
The reefs and channels make for East Africa's finest diving and highly rated game fishing, whilst the Pembans themselves embody the coastal Swahili in their dignity of manner and refinement of welcome.