A tropical getaway just off Tanzania’s coast, Zanzibar is an archipelago steeped in traditional Swahili culture; it has had a profound impact on the land and its people. From distinct architecture to historical landmarks, these islands promise an exciting, experience-rich excursion for any intrepid explorer.
The Wonders of Stone Town
Stone Town – Zanzibar’s capital city and a UNESCO world heritage site – is a myriad of tight-knit alleyways bordered by an array of houses, shops, bazaars, and mosques. Most of the city’s buildings use coral stone – the city’s namesake – as their primary construction material, draping the city in a signature reddish warmth. The Palace Museum, once the home of the powerful Al-Busid dynasty, lets you peer into Zanzibar’s past and is a must-see for anyone interested in the islands’ history. Most Zanzibar luxury hotels are situated in or very close to Stone town, making the trip there a simple one. In fact, certain establishments like The Residence Zanzibar by Cenizaro make a point to list a visit to Stone Town among their itineraries.
The Local Markets
Stone Town is also home to various marketplaces that showcase the various lifestyles the locals lead; you can find stalls selling everything from freshly caught seafood to handcrafted jewellery. Bathe in the aromas of the spice markets and introduce your palate to traditional Swahili dishes like mshikaki and boko boko.
The Village of Muyuni
Located in Zanzibar’s southern district, Muyuni Village is the perfect location for travellers to mingle with the Swahili people and learn more about their culture and traditions. The lush forests that border the village are also dotted with a number of caves that harbour great spiritual value to the Swahili people – for a small fee, you should have no trouble finding a local guide to take you to these locations.
Clothing and Adornments
When strolling around Zanzibar’s streets, you’ll likely come across locals in the traditional Kanga garment; it is generally rectangular in shape and is adorned with striking designs and patterns. As with many other coastal African cultures, the Swahili adorn themselves with a dye – termed henna – which is made of several different plants. It is thought that this tradition was inherited from the various Arabic and Asian cultures which interacted with the Swahili in ancient times.