Most prominent of the Spice Islands, Zanzibar has a potent mix of history, legends and unique cultures. Visually stunning with exceptional natural beaches and the haunting architecture of Zanzibar town, the island has lured travelers to its shores for centuries.
Its past was dominated by merchants, rulers, explorers, scholars – today tourism is playing a key role. Zanzibar provides the perfect complement to an East African safari.
Famous for being a major producer of cloves, and infamous as being a slave entry-port, the old stone town of Zanzibar has a fascinating labyrinth of narrow winding streets lined with whitewashed, coral-rag houses with overhanging balconies and magnificently carved brass studded doors, shops, bazaars, mosques, courtyards, squares etc.
Outside town there are more ruined palaces, Shirazi remains, Persian baths, and magnificent palm fringed beaches with warm clear water, ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
Also known as the Spice Island for its 200 years of clove production, hilly Pemba lies 40 km north of Zanzibar. Its capital Chake Chake is strategically located on a hill overlooking a creek.
Spice production from some 3 million clove trees pervades both the economy and atmosphere as cloves are laid out to dry in the sun and its characteristic aroma hangs in the air.
There are two historical monuments to its past. About 20 km to the west is the 8th century ruins of Ras Mkumbuu, with its Persian influence. The second lies 10 km to the south east of Chake Chake, the 15th century settlement of Pujini, destroyed later by the Portuguese along with the palace of Mkame Ndume the settlement builder.
Mafia Island lies 140 km to the south of Zanzibar, at the mouth of the Rufiji River. Mafia Island used to be an important settlement from the 12th to 14th centuries, but these days is better known for its excellent diving and also deep-sea fishing.
In addition Mafia is an important breeding ground for giant turtles which come up onto the white coral sands to lay their eggs.
Zanzibar Serena Inn
The luxury Zanzibar Serena Inn has been created from two lovingly restored ‘Stone Town’ houses, one of which was visited by Doctor Livingstone during his many sojourns to the ‘Spice Island’.
Located on the seafront in the ‘Stone Town’ area of old Zanzibar, approximately 20 minutes from the airport.
Hotel facilities include secluded swimming pool, seafront restaurant and bar, offering Serena’s renowned hospitality and exemplary cuisine.
It also provides a full excursion service for tours of the ‘Stone Town’, the rest of the island and to nearby beaches and outlying islands, as well as diving and snorkelling trips – payable locally.
The hotel offers 52 air-conditioned, sea-facing rooms with en-suite bathroom and private balcony. The rooms are spacious and are decorated in traditional Zanzibar style.
A stay at this ‘Stone Town’ city hotel can be combined with the beach hotels; Breezes Beach Club or the Karafuu Hotel.
Breezes Beach Club
Breezes’ offers an ideal hideaway retreat in a secluded, pristine beach near the village of Bwejuu, on the eastern side of the island.
The hotel is set in landscaped gardens and has superb facilities including; free-form swimming pool, floodlit tennis court, a fitness and aerobics centre, watersports centre and nearby a diving centre (all payable locally).
There are 3 bars including the pool bar. In addition to the main restaurant there is a la carte restaurant specialising in the seafood delicacies and spices unique to Zanzibar.
Other facilities include a shopping arcade, TV room and disco. Local cultural entertainment is presented.
Accommodation consists of 70 air-conditioned rooms in several blocks, tastefully furnished in Zanzibari style, all with en-suite bathrooms. The 10 ground floor standard rooms have a terrace overlooking the gardens; the 40 deluxe rooms are equipped with fridge and have a terrace that faces the sea, while the 20 superior deluxe benefit from a larger sea-facing balcony.