Stone Town is full of old buildings including many that are in a state of severe decay. This city seems like a tiny maze at times, however its difficult to get too lost – if you walk far enough you will either end up on the seafront or on Creek Road which is the outermost road in Stone Town.
While in Stone Town be sure to visit the evening waterfront “fresh fish cookout.” This event starts around dusk and is held on the main street in front of the waterfront.
This was definitely one of the highlights of Zanzibar for me. Rows and rows of open air stalls display piles of cooked fish caught by the local fishermen. I spent almost two hours here one night talking with tourists from around and the world and eating the flavorful seafood dishes. All the fish was cooked on site – I ate from many vendors and never got sick at all.
Motor Scooters. If you are comfortable riding a motor scooter, you can rent one in Stonetown and drive around the city or if you are more adventurous, the rest of the island. You need to acquire (for a small fee) a drivers permit from the police station which is located near the corner of Malawi and Creek Roads. It definitely helps if you bring your own driver’s license from your own country when you try to acquire a driving permit from the police station. Stupidly, I did not have mine with me at the time, but fortunately the policeman was in a good mood and let this “slide under the table.” Once the permit was secured I visited some of the many shops renting motorcycles. After choosing a shop that looked reputable I inspected a Vespa and was soon exploring the island.
Nungwi is a very small village located at the northernmost tip of Zanzibar Island. From Stone Town it is about 45km on paved road. A number of side dirt roads and interesting little villages are located on the way. One can either reach this town via scooter, car or taxi. While driving my motor scooter I randomly stopped at some of the small villages to purchase a cold drink or some tropical fruit. This was always fun as I was soon surrounded by many small kids – when I would remove my camera from my day pack – this would often cause a rash of giggling and laughing. I would point to the camera and then to the kids – and this gesture would often cause a few of the younger kids to run and hide behind the older children.
Nungwi is located right off of the beach in the shadow of some tall palm trees. Depending on the time of the year as you drive close to the outskirts of this village you may see the sides of the road covered with seaweed drying in the sun. This is one of the best beaches on the the island – its sand if very fine like flour – with incredible colored water just off shore. When I was here I viewed village boys climbing 20-30 feet above the ground up the trunk of palm trees – certainly a helpful skill if there ever was a tsunami.
Amaan Bungalows are located in Nungwi. Besides the bungalow lodging, they also offer three restaurants on the premises.
Spice Tours are an excellent way to see the island without having to rent a car or bike. These tours will take you to spice and fruit farms, located mostly in the center of the island. Tastings of various spices, herbs and fruits are included in the tour as well as a lunch. One might be surprised at how some of the “day to day” spices look before they are extracted. Expect to spend almost all day on one of these tours although shorter tours can be arranged upon request. These tours are well worth taking a day out of your vacation.
Several Spice Tour companies are:
1. Tembo Tours & Safaris – Phone (054) 30466
2. Klungu Island Tours located along Mkunazini Road – Phone: (054) 32664
In addition, you may also ask for Spice Tour recommendations at your local hotel.
Mosques There are over 50 mosques in Zanzibar and sometimes at night you can hear the voices from the mosques floating throughout the city via loudspeakers. Non practicing Muslims are not allowed into the mosques. However, one can take photographs of the outside of the mosques.
Some other attractions in Stone Town are the Arab Fort built by the Portuguese in 1700, the House of Wonders (this was formerly the Sultan’s palace) and the Palace Museum which was built beginning in 1828.