Everywhere in Stone Town, in the travel agencies or hotels, you can book a half-day spice tour. We went to the plantations near Kizimbani, north east of Stone Town.
At Kizimbani you can make a guided walk of three and half hours visiting the plantations.
The enthusiastic young guide showed us many spices. It was interesting to see how they grow, in trees, at small plants or in the soil. We saw carambola, pepper, cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, coffee, ylang-ylang, cinnamon and many more. At the end of the walk we visited the old Persian baths nearby.
From Stone Town we visited the south part of the island. The trip over the island to the south was wonderful. The inland was very green, with some rainforest and huge mangotrees along the road.
In Kizimkazi, 53 KM south of Stone Town, at the beach near Kizidi restaurant we took a boat. After one hour our boat reached the place where the dolphins were. It was amazing, we saw so many dolphins swimming and diving around and under our boat.
After three hours we returned to the Kidizi Restaurant for our lunch. We arranged this trip directly with the driver of our hotel, but you can book a trip like this also in one of the many travel agencies in Stone Town.
No visit to Jozani Forrest would be complete without a tour of the Chwaka Bay Mangrove Swamp across the road. Mangroves are strange trees that have intricate root systems above the ground that actually hold the tree up. Because the swamp is in ‘brackish water’, a mixture of sea salt water and fresh, the Mangroves grow as an extension of a mother tree. The seeds cannot grow in the water, so it must use this unique process to reproduce.
The whole area is lined with infinitely long boardwalks that take you through the grove. Small black crabs scurry underneath and eat the broad Mangrove leaves that fall down to where they are. Occasional birds, fish and the odd Colobus or Blue Monkey are also seen.
Just inside the Mangrove Swamp is a plaque that celebrates the agreement between 8 local villages and the Government not to kill the Colobus Monkeys. The villages are: Chwaka, Pongwe, Uroa, Marumbi, Mapopwe, Charawe, Ukongoroni and Michamvi. The Colobus are destructive to trees in their eating habits. Locals used to kill them and they almost made them extinct. The Government agreed to pay the 8 villages not to kill them and the agreement has held
One of the most interesting - if very touristy - sidetrips from Stone Town is a visit to a spice plantation... basically, a spice tour. You will be shown several grasses and trees that you would normally not consider worth a look, and you'll discover that your favourite spices come exactly from there. Amazing.
At the end of the tour you will be taken to a makuti hut where you will be given to taste several tropical fruits - including cocoa, jackfruit (my favourite), coconut and the very best pineaaple I have ever had.
If you go there on your own (i.e. without an organised tour), freelance guides will meet you and show you around free of charge - as well as make you huts, bags and necklaces with palm leaves right in front of you. At the end you are just asked to leave them a tip.
The spice plantations are located a few kilometres north of Stone Town.
Relaxation is waiting for YOU! Stone Town is the large Town that is a walking talking living Museum of Colonial History and the influences of Arab and European Cultures. Get out of town! Go to the East Coast! All the best beaches are here. A protective coral reef keeps the tide at bay and you can have pristine beaches all to yourself. You will see the most exquisite range of blue and green colours in the water, fishing boats going about their business and incredible flowers and dense vegetation growing right up to the tidal edge. You will also see the more traditional life of local people and fishing villages. If you go outside of your hotel (highly recommended) you will see just how friendly the people of Zanzibar really are to their guests. You can even practice those Swahili phrases in the back of your Guidebook!
Please have a look at my little slice of paradise: Jambiani Village.
DAO's JAMBIANI PAGE !
If you have a chance, take a look at Zanzibar from above. It has many little terraces and zinc roofs, old green patios and there's another lively town up here.
I asked at my hotel if I could climb to the roof to make some photos. In some hotels, they serve breakfast at the roof, so you can enjoy magnificent morning views.
An interesting sight only a few minutes away from the spice plantations are the Kidichi Persian baths. What can yopu see? Well, the Persian Baths built by Seyyid Said Bin Sultan, the first Sultan of Zanzibar for his wife the Princess Shehrzard, who also happened to be the grand-daughter of the Shah of Persia.
Entrance is free, and one could only wish it was made payable, so that the baths would not be in such a state of neglection... judging by what you can find inside, it's where local youths gather to have a good time and maybe have a drink without their parents knowing it.
We hired a car and drove from Stone Town across the island to the North-East coast, to a resort near Matemwe. Make sure to have an international driving licence on you as the police will often do spot checks, especially at the Mahonda crossing. It is advisable to rent a four-wheel drive, especially when turning off the main asphalted roads - or if it is raining!!!