Now two other things that are big in Zanzibar are the Spice Farms & Stone Town. I decided to combine these two in a full day tour which I arranged through my lodge (but you can totally shop around as there are many companies that offer these tours). You pay less per person the more people you are, so I roped in an American guy I met at Fumba who also happened to be travelling alone and in the end it worked out to 55USD per person (exluding tips – be sure to keep a few small notes on you for that).
We were collected around 9am from the lodge and then headed to a Spice Farm first. Some of you may already know this, but Zanzibar is also referred to as “The Spice Island” & its spice trade dates back a couple of centuries. In particular, Zanzibar produces cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper, but during the Spice Farm tour you’ll get to see the origins of many many more.
You spend about 2 hrs at the farm during which your guide will walk you through the very leafy farm areas showing you which plants & trees produce which spices.
The next stop was Stone Town which is the old part of Zanzibar City. At one point Stone Town was the capital of the Zanzibar Sultanate, and during the 19th century it was the centre of the spice trade as well as the slave trade.
Designated as at UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2000, Stone town demonstrates the diverse influences underlying the Swahili culture with its unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements.
Roaming around the streets with our guide was super interesting to say the least… I think I took at least 200 photos. These are some of my favourites:
Then the real highlight of the day came in the form of a late lunch at a restaurant called Emerson on Hurumzi. The many flights of stairs you have to climb is a bit of a mission, but once you see the view, it’s all totally worth it.
Part of the tour also includes a quick look at Mercury House which is covered with Freddie Mercury memorabilia. Freddie Mercury was interestingly born in Stone Town, but spent half of his time in India until his mid-teens, after which his family moved to England. There’s not really that much to see, other than doing the obligatory touristy shot AND the super interesting thing was that our guide had never even heard any of Queen’s music. I don’t think the Zanzibar folk are that taken with Freddie’s lifestyle choices, although they seem to be OK with making some money from his fame. Found that very strange…
It was exactly what I had hoped to find after seeing photos of Stone Town online. I opted for a very simple vegetarian dish (because with the heat, you’re not inclined to be craving anything too heavy), but I have to say it was lovely.We got back to the lodge around 4:30 pm. Was a jam-packed day, but a very interesting one indeed.
There’s just a few tips I’d like to share:
- If you’re not massively into cooking & spices, you may find the Spice Farm tour a bit dull. I probably could have skipped it and spent more time in Stone Town. So that’s something to consider.
- Islam is the most prominent religion on the island of Zanzibar. They’re used to seeing tourists in shorts & what not, but just to show some respect I made sure that I covered my shoulders while roaming around Stone Town.
- Be sure to pack water & sunscreen. It gets very very hot…
- And then don’t leave without experiencing a rooftop drink or meal. You’ll regret it forever & ever!