Locally known as Unguja, Zanzibar Island gets most of the headlines, but the archipelago also consists of lush Pemba to the north and many more smaller islands and islets poised in amazingly turquoise seas. Visiting the museums and taking a walk through Stone Town is a good way of getting an idea of Zanzibar’s rich and turbulent slave-trade past.
The architecture will surely fascinate you, as will the street markets. The old city of Stone Town is the cultural heart of Zanzibar, and little has changed there for hundreds of years. The majority of Stone Town’s buildings were built by Omani sultans in the 19th century when Zanzibar was one of the most important trading centres in the Indian Ocean. In order to preserve these architectural markers of history, the Stone Town Conservation Authority has been working towards restoring this ancient town.
The chilled out resort of Nungwi Beach is on the northern tip of the island, which is the busier, more commercial side. It’s regarded as one of Zanzibar’s best beaches, because here you can swim to your heart’s delight, as it’s one of the few beaches with no coral reef. Also, it doesn’t matter what tide you swim in because the tide doesn’t draw back for miles, as on the east coast, which is a long walk before you can frolic in the water. The East Coast of Zanzibar is the less commercial, more traditional side of the island, where you can chill out on the beach on one of the wooden beds with a good book and maybe a traditional masseuse. They, along with one or two ‘kikoi-selling’ locals walk up and down the beach to sell you a little something of Zanzibar.
Tanzania’s premier city, Dar es Salaam is a teeming metropolis of 1.5 million people. It is the largest city in Tanzania, as well as the wealthiest, dealing in manufacturing and trade. Olduvai Gorgeis a steep-sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley and is about 48km (30mi) long. The original spelling was Oldupai, which is Maasai for the wild sisal plant that grows there. Olduvai is often referred to as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ because the first humanoid skeletons were discovered there.
There is a museum that’s documented all its remarkable findings. Jutting out from Tanzania’s north-eastern plains is Mt Kilimanjaro, an almost perfectly shaped volcano. It’s truly a sight to behold. At a solid 5896m (19343ft), its snow-capped peak is the highest in Africa. One of our planet’s last great wild places, the 55,000 sq km (21,235 sq mi) Selous Game Reserve offers you a fantastic African budget safari: untamed bush, emerald green floodplains and crocodile-filled lakes.
Often overlooked because of the other two big, famous parks, the small-in-size, yet-large-in-wildlife 325km² Lake Manyara offers a really unusual Africa overland tour. It lies about 130km from Arusha near the small town of Mto Wa Mbu.