Set like a jewel in tranquil coral waters, only 20 minutes flight or 70 minutes by speed boat from Dar es Salaam, is one of the world's most beautiful island - ZANZIBAR - called 'UNGUJA'. Its name evokes a romantic past. Zanzibar has for centuries been a center of attraction for merchants, sea farers, explorers, fortune hunter, missionaries and invaders.
The cultural heritage of the people of Zanzibar is a reminder of the past left by Summarians, Assyrians, Hindus, Egyptians, Portuguese, Arabs, Germans, British, who left their mark on the islands. Kiswahili the local language is full of Arabic words, Hindu and Portuguese. The Bullfight of Pemba and the occult Mwaka Kogwa (celebrations of Nairuz Year) in Makunduchi originate from Portugal and Persian respectively.
The Zanzibar Stone Town is about 150 years old covering an area of 96 hectares of residence, gardens and bazaar streets. It is physical evidence of the rich cultural heritage from Arabs, Indians and Europeans combined with the local African tradition. The Central Market (1904), the Anglican Church (built on the site of the former slave market), the old Arab fort, the Palace Museum, the House of Wonders (built in 1883 by Sultan Bargash) and the Livingstone House. A walk along the narrow lanes of the Stone Town gives you an opportunity to see some splendid artifacts like miniature samples of the famous Arab doors and chests with their studded brass decorations.
The famous spices, such as cardamom, connamon, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg and many others are grown here. Also to be seen and tasted are different kinds of tropical fruits such as durian, Zanzibar apples (tufah) drupes (coconut) rambutans (lychees) and many others, not forgetting rare plants like the Henna, Perfume tree and Lipstick trees, e.t.c. The spice tour includes visits to some historical places such as Persian Baths at Kidichi built in 1850 by the first Sultan of Zanzibar Sayyid Said bin Sultan, for his Persian wife and Princess Shehzad, grand daughter of the famous Fateh Ali the then Shah of Persia. You will get the chance to visit Mangapwani Slave Caves.
The Jozani Forest situated 35 km Southeast of Zanzibar Town is the only remaining natural forest in UNGUJA ISLAND. A visit to the forest will give you a very rare opportunity to see different species of its flora and fauna. The forest is the refuge of the Red Columbus Monkey.
Prison Island (also known as Changuu Island) is an islet situated to the west of Zanzibar Town (about 30 minutes ride by motor boat), the islet measuring about half a mile long and one eighth of a mile wide, was formerly used slave owner as a private detention place for a disobedient slaves. It was then bought by General Mathews who constructed a jail in 1893 (and hence the name PRISON ISLAND was adopted). It was however never utilized as such but it still stands. At the moment the islet is a small TOURISM resort where you can relax, sunbathe, swim, snorkel, walk around and see the GIANT TORTOISES some as old as 100 years.