Zanzibar: Holiday (16th to 26th of April 2011)

In April 2011, we decided to take Caitlin on her first "overseas" holiday (Namibia did not count. Did not have to travel over the sea). We selected Zanzibar, since its not that far away and I thought it had a good mixture of culture and relaxation.

Zanzibar

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, in East Africa. It comprises the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometers off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands. The two large ones: Unguja (the main island, informally referred to as Zanzibar), and Pemba.

We stayed the first couple of days in Stone Town (the capital, on the West coast). While we were based there, we visited Jozani Forest and snorkeled at Kizimkazi (South coast) and Prison Island (close to Stone Town).

Then we travel across to the East coast and stayed at Mapenzi Beach Club. There we just chilled, but we did get one snorkel in at Mnemba Island.

Zanzibar: Map
Stone Town

In Stone Town we stayed at the Beyt al-Chai Hotel. Very basic, but clean with very helpful staff. The last photo is the view from our room.

Stone Town: Beyt al-Chai Hotel Stone Town: Beyt al-Chai Hotel Stone Town: Beyt al-Chai Hotel

The first day we arrived we just walked around Stone Town to get the lay of the land. We obviously ended up on the beach. On the beach we came across the iconic Dhows, which are synonymous with Zanzibar and most of the African East coast.

Stone Town: Dhow Stone Town: Dhow at sunset

Some of the typical of the architecture of Stone Town. The Tatu House is also where my girls got their "tattoos", that would be henna tattoos.

The last photo shows why it is called Stone Town. The buildings were originally built with the coral stone from the island.

Stone Town: Architecture Stone Town: Architecture Stone Town: Architecture

The streets of Stone Town are these narrow alleyways, and you must always be ready to jump out of the way of a bicycle of scooter.

Stone Town: Architecture Stone Town: Architecture

The Africa House Hotel was once a royal residence before becoming The English Club during the colonial days. It has been converted into a hotel and has been restored & renovated with colonial decor and memorabilia.

We can recommend the Tradewinds Restaurant, Sunset Grill or the Sunset Bar. All of which has a beautiful view over the ocean.

Stone Town: Africa House Stone Town: Africa House Stone Town: Africa House Stone Town: Sunset from Sunset Bar

Most of the hotels are open to the public and you can walk in and have a look around.

Stone Town: Hotels Stone Town: Hotels Stone Town: Hotels

You are allowed to take photo's of the people with their permission. These candid's were snuck in without their knowledge.

Stone Town: People in the street Stone Town: People in the street

During the reign of the Omani Arabs in the early 19th century, Zanzibar was the main slave trading point of East Africa. Slaves bought and caught on the mainland were shipped to Zanzibar, where they were re-sold and further transported to Seychelles, Mauritius, Oman and Persia. In those days, the slave market of Stone Town was easily accessible by sea, as the artificial extension of land had not occurred yet. 15 chambers under the earth were used for storing the slaves. The chambers had low ceilings and tiny windows. Sea water running through the damp rooms functioned as toilets. The slaves were chained on the bare stone, separated in male and female compartments. Many did not survive the cramped living conditions due to exhaustion and sickness.

To fetch a higher price, the slaves were often cleaned before taken to the market in the late afternoon. Men and boys had their skins oiled and females were dressed in nice cloth, sometimes even adorned with necklaces and bracelets. Lined up from the smallest to the tallest they had to walk through the market, whilst their owner announced their price. Prospected buyers had the possibility to inspect physique, mouth, teeth and eyes of the slaves. A large tree was used as a whipping post to show the strength of the slaves. Those who did not cry fetched a higher price. The whip used was often the tail of a stingray. After being sold to the highest bidder, slaves were brought to the plantations or houses of their new owners on Zanzibar or shipped to other destinations.

Following the closure of the Slave Market by Sultan Barghash in 1873, missionaries bought the site and built the Anglican Cathedral (Cathedral Church of Christ) on this location and freed slaves helped with its construction under the guidance of Bishop Edward Steere. The altar of the cathedral stands on the spot of the whipping tree. A window is dedicated to Dr. David Livingstone, the initiator of the abolition of slavery. The church's crucifix is made from the wood of a tree in Zambia, under which the heart of Livingstone is buried. Behind the cathedral there is a stone sculpture of five slaves in a pit, tied with original iron shackles and chains.

Today only two of the 15 chambers are accessible. They are located under the St. Monica's Hostel, which was built in 1890 above the slave chambers. The house was used to accommodate teachers, nurses and nuns working at the Universities' Mission to Central Africa and in the missionary hospital in the extension of the building. The house now offers hostel accommodation and a restaurant as well as a gallery with a crafts shop.

Stone Town: Anglican Cathedral Stone Town: St Monica's Hostel Stone Town: St Monica's Hostel slave cellar Stone Town: Slave market memorial

The Stone Town Market has been around for ages and definitely needs to be on the list of things to see, but be warned, you need a strong stomach when you go to the fish market area. There is a wonderful array of spices (not called the spice island for nothing) and materials.

Stone Town: Market Stone Town: Market Stone Town: Market Stone Town: Market

One of the things to take note of, while in Stone Town, is the myriad of different doors. The guide will explain the meaning of all the engravings on each door, which describes the family heritage and occupation of the persons which used to live there.

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The Old Fort (Swahili: Ngome Kongwe), also known as the Arab Fort and by other names, is a fortification located in Stone Town. It is the oldest building and is located on the main seafront, adjacent to another landmark building of the city, the House of Wonders (former palace of the Sultan of Zanzibar), and facing the Forodhani Gardens.

It was built in late 17th century by the Omanis to defend the island from the Portuguese, and it is known to have actually been used to repel at least one attack, from the Portuguese and their Mazrui allies. It was later used as a prison and as barracks. In early 20th century it was also used as a depot during the construction of the railway that connected Stone Town to the village of Bububu.

The fort is essentially a square of high, brown walls with merlons, protecting an inner courtyard. In the courtyard there are some remnants of earlier buildings, including those of a Portuguese church and another Omani fortification.

The courtyard as been adapted to serve as a cultural centre with curio shops selling tourist-oriented merchandise such as tingatinga paintings; it also has an open-air amphitheatre where live dance and music shows are held most evenings, a restaurant, and a tourist information desk. It is also the main venue used for large events such as the Festival of the Dhow Countries (also known as the Zanzibar International Film Festival) and the Sauti za Busara.

Stone Town: Old Fort Stone Town: Old Fort Stone Town: Old Fort Stone Town: Old Fort Stone Town: Old Fort

The House of Wonders or Palace of Wonders (in arab: Beit-al-Ajaib) is a landmark building in Stone Town. It is the largest and tallest building of Stone Town and occupies a prominent place facing the Forodhani Gardens on the old town's seafront. It is located between the Old Fort and the Palace Museum (and former Sultan's Palace). It is one of six palaces built by Barghash bin Said, second Sultan of Zanzibar, and it is said to be located on the site of the 17th century palace of Zanzibari queen Fatuma. The House of Wonders currently houses the Museum of History & Culture of Zanzibar & the Swahili Coast.

The palace was built in 1883 for Barghash bin Said, second Sultan of Zanzibar. It was intended as a ceremonial palace and official reception hall, celebrating modernity, and it was named "House of Wonders" because it was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity, and also the first building of East Africa to have an elevator. The design of the palace is attributed to a British marine engineer and indeed its form introduced new architectural elements into the Zanzibar repertoire, including the wide external verandas supported by cast iron columns, which allowed for uniquely high ceilings. The construction materials consisted of an original combination of coral rag, concrete slabs, mangrove shoots or boriti, and steel beams.

Though this building served to attest to the modernity of the Sultan, other elements made it a functional palace, such as the covered passages above street level (called wikios) which connected the House of Wonders to the two adjacent palaces Beit al-Hukum and Beit al-Sahel (now Palace Museum), allowing the royal ladies to move about unseen. The building has a large central covered courtyard or atrium surrounded by open galleries. Some of the inner doors of the palace are beautifully carved with inscriptions from the Quran. The marble floors and most of the silver decorations inside were imported from Europe.

The Sultan ostensibly kept wild animals chained up for display in front of the building and had the main door made wide enough so that he could ride an elephant through.

In front of the building there used to stand a lighthouse which was destroyed during the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 27 August 1896. This brief war also destroyed the Beit al-Hukum Palace and severely damaged the Beit al-Sahel Palace. The House of Wonders suffered only minor damages. During reconstruction in 1897 a new clock tower was integrated into the facade of the building. Beit al-Hukum was not rebuilt; its location was transformed into a garden, increasing the visual dominance of the House of Wonders.

The House of Wonders was only fully occupied by the Sultan and his harem after the bombardment. In 1911 it was transformed into government offices and as the main secretariat for the British governing authorities. After the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964 it was converted into a school and a museum for the ruling Afro-Shirazi Party with North Korean aid. In 1992-1994 museum development was initiated. Today it serves as a museum and it is one of Stone Towns' major tourist attractions.

Stone Town: House of Wonders Stone Town: House of Wonders Stone Town: House of Wonders Stone Town: House of Wonders - Apparently this can fit an elephant Stone Town: House of Wonders Stone Town: House of Wonders - First elevator Stone Town: View from House of Wonders Stone Town: View from House of Wonders Stone Town: View from House of Wonders with my girls Stone Town: View from House of Wonders - Roman Catholic cathedral of St. Joseph in the back Stone Town: View from House of Wonders - Forodhani Gardens
Stone Town: Prison Island

Changuu Island (also known as Kibandiko, Prison or Quarantine Island) is a small island 5.6 km north-west of Stone Town. The island is around 800 m long and 230 m wide at its broadest point. The island saw use as a prison for rebellious slaves in 1860s and also functioned as a coral mine. The British First Minister of Zanzibar, Lloyd Mathews, purchased the island in 1893 and constructed a prison complex there. No prisoners were ever housed on the island and instead it became a quarantine station for yellow fever cases. The station was only occupied for around half of the year and the rest of the time it was a popular holiday destination. More recently the island has become a government-owned tourist resort and houses a collection of endangered Aldabra Giant Tortoises which were originally a gift from the British governor of the Seychelles.

Stone Town: Prison Island - Aldabra Giant Tortoises with Caitlin Stone Town: Prison Island Stone Town: Prison Island Stone Town: Prison Island Stone Town: Prison Island Stone Town: Prison Island
This was our first snorkeling while in Zanzibar. It was also our first attempt at using the camera with the underwater housing, so the images did not come out so great.
Stone Town: Prison Island - Snorkeling Stone Town: Prison Island - Snorkeling
Kizimkazi

Kizimkazi - officially Kizimkazi Mkunguni, but also known as Kizimkazi Mtendeni - is a fishing village on the southern coast of Zanzibar, and was once a walled city. In recent years, Kizimkazi has become a major tourist attraction, as daily boat tours are organized to bring visitors off shore to watch bottlenose dolphins and swim with them.

Kizimkazi is a bit of a drive from Stone Town, but well worth the visit. There is not much to see on land, but the snorkeling is great.

Zanzibar: Kizimkazi Zanzibar: Kizimkazi Zanzibar: Kizimkazi - Bottlenose Dolphins

This was our 2nd snorkeling trip and this time we were a bit more comfortable with the underwater photography.

Zanzibar: Kizimkazi - Snorkeling Zanzibar: Kizimkazi - Snorkeling Zanzibar: Kizimkazi - Snorkeling Zanzibar: Kizimkazi - Snorkeling Zanzibar: Kizimkazi - Snorkeling Zanzibar: Kizimkazi - Snorkeling Zanzibar: Kizimkazi - Snorkeling
Jozani Forest

Zanzibar's first and only National Park is centred on Jozani Forest, the largest area of mature forest found within Zanzibar, the forest lies in a shallow trough in the fossil coral bed between the mangrove filled bays of Chwaka and Uzi. Seasonal flooding, and a high water table, has given rise to a unique groundwater forest. On the high ground to either side is dry coral rag forest and thicket.

With mangrove forests and saltmarshes to the north of the National park, the area is an extremely rich mosaic of Zanzibar's diverse natural habitats, a Haven for much wildlife, including rare, endemic and endangered species. Perhaps one of the most famous and endearing residents of the Jozani-Chwaka Bay National Park is the Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey.

About a kilometre south of the National Park centre, the mangrove boardwalk begins under the shade of an old tamarind tree. Here you can walk amongst the forest in the sea. The brackish water that flows through the mangrove is a nursery ground for hundreds of species of tropical fish, which can be seen feeding in the shallow waters, whilst crabs and other molluscs can be observed feasting in the nutrient rich mud.

Zanzibar: Jozani Forest Zanzibar: Jozani Forest Zanzibar: Jozani Forest Zanzibar: Jozani Forest - Red Colobus monkey Zanzibar: Jozani Forest - Red Colobus monkey Zanzibar: Jozani Forest - Red Colobus monkey Zanzibar: Jozani Forest - Mangrove Boardwalk Zanzibar: Jozani Forest - Mangrove Boardwalk Zanzibar: Jozani Forest - Mangrove Boardwalk Zanzibar: Jozani Forest - Mangrove Boardwalk
Last Night in Stone Town

On our last night in Stone Town we had dinner at Tembo House. They had a TV, the first one we have seen in a couple of days.

After lots of walking, traveling, and snorkeling, this traveler was ready to just pass out.

Last night's dinner at Tembo House Stone Town: Tired traveler
Mapenzi Beach Club

The resort.

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The resort at night.

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The gardens.

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Our home.

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Keeping the kids busy.

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The entertainment.

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Mnemba Island
Our 3rd and final snorkeling trip was to Mnemba Island on the east coast.
Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island - Our guide Black Dolphin Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island
Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island
Zanzibar: Mnemba Island Zanzibar: Mnemba Island - Jenny with Mnemba Island in the background Zanzibar: Mnemba Island
Saying our goodbyes
The last day, at Zanzibar airport, was the kids had their final play time together. Especially since the flight was 8 hours delayed and there was absolutely nothing to do. Thanks One Time!
All in all it was a fabulous holiday!
Zanzibar: Mapenzi Beach Club Zanzibar: Mapenzi Beach Club