Discover Yourself, Discover Zanzibar
Karibu! Karibu! Whether you are of European, Arabian, Indian, African decent or anywhere in the world then islands of Zanzibar say Karibu which mean ‘you are most welcome’ in Swahili. The very word ‘Karibu’sums up the spirit of hospitality that Zanzibar prides itself in. Boasting over 30 immaculate beaches in two regal islands it’s no wonder Zanzibar has been one the biggest tourist destinations for decades now. The name Zanzibar itself stems from the Arab term Zangh Bar which means ‘Negro coast’ so if you are looking for beautiful coastlines then you are in the right destination.
The Zanzibar Culture
To say that Zanzibar’s culture is concoction of exotic served with a dash of culture would be an understatement. It is a culture influenced by Arabic, African and British roots yet maintains a strong foundation with the Muslim religion that forms part of this cultural cocktail. Zanzibar lies in the East of Africa in Tanzania. The main languages spoke are English and Swahili, so don’t worry everybody is accommodated.
As you can imagine, a culture that is as richly influenced like that of Zanzibar must have a buffet of exotic meals and dishes. Tastes that are worth experimenting and some dishes that you can only have once just to tell your friends that you ate that. Zanzibar’s diet consists mainly of seafood dishes such as fish, squid and lobster prepared with an Indian, Portuguese and Arabic touch. Seasoning and exotic spices have a huge part in the cuisine. Rice, maize and fruit such as coconut, mango and citrus are considered staples.
Some of their must-try dishes are the Boku-Boku a dish with maize prepared with a tomato and onion mix with a dash of cumen and maize. If your taste buds are feeling a bit more adventurous then you can help yourself to the pepper shark, a shark dish prepared in spicy soup. ‘Pwepwe we nazi’ is also receiving rave reviews with food loving tourists, now you don’t have to know how to pronounce the name of this dish but it’s an octopus dish served in coconut milk .There’s also a dish named ‘Pilla rice’, a rice meal infused with coconut and spices. If these dishes do nothing for your taste buds then just have grilled fish while you chew on Zanzibari snacks.
Land marks and resorts
Zanzibar is divided into two main Islands, the Island of Pemba and the Island of Unguja. It flaunts beaches and beach resorts flanked by palm trees and white sands. With natural sights such as the coral caves and the caverns of Kiwengwa giving the curious holidayer a worthwhile holiday experience. Take a cruise to the Stone Town Island to see Prison Island, a historical monument that holds great history of slavery. View Mfani Palace or the Ngame Kangwe fortifications and ruins of Mtoni Palace and if that doesn’t quench your thirst for historical knowledge then the Makururani Grave Yard should be a ghost-busting experience since it’s the place where many of the Islands Arabic rulers were laid to rest.
When it comes to resorts and accommodation, Zanzibar offers anything from simplicity to luxury. You can choose from a Zanzibar beach hotel or go super luxurious with a 5 star Zanzibar resort, you can even choose bungalows or villas.
With holidaying anywhere you have to put your health and that of your loved ones first, Zanzibar is no exception. The yellow fever vaccination and certificate is unavoidable when holidaying in Zanzibar. It’s really for your own good, so doing it in advance at a local travel safe clinic and it will save you from running around looking for a doctor in an island when you should be enjoying it with your family. The exotic trees and dense Zanzibar climate makes it rife with mosquitoes and a lot of reported incidents of malaria so it’s best to get a vaccination for that too. It is better to get an all-round check with your GP before catching that Zanzibar flight.
Religion vs Holiday fun
As said before, Zanzibar has a rich Muslim culture so it still holds very conservative values. So while you are having your fun you have to respect the mosques as sacred buildings and not tourists sights, so if you are not Muslim you have no business going in there. When making your bookings (which should be done months in advance), keep in mind of the Muslim holidays like the month of Ramadan or month of fasting for Muslims as these will greatly influence your holiday experience whether for the good or for the bad.
For some the religious aspect might put a damper on their holiday fun but look on the bright side, there are things happening that are exclusive to Zanzibar. When making bookings be aware that from June to October the Islands of Zanzibar becomes even more busy than usual. The Island has a variety of colourful festivals such as the Festival of the Dhow countries which celebrates the Dhow countries. There’s also the International Cultural festival as well as the Mwakakagwa festival also known as the New Year festival. All these festival combine dance, arts and music. Celebrations which attract tourists from across the globe and on the same token a lot of scams so be aware.
The 411 on Zanzibar
In a place like Zanzibar it’s easy to get confused when you arrive there since it’s so diverse and its diversity causes clashes and misunderstandings of all sorts.
- When in Zan, do what the Zans do. Unfortunately, beach wear stays at the beach in Zanzibar. If you are walking in the streets you have to dress up a bit, this means that your shoulders should be covered, your knees not exposed and clothes should not be too tight or revealing.
- The mosquitoes here aren’t so bad. Yeah right, everyone will tell you that but you are in a foreign land so bring some insect repellent.
- Sunblock. That’s all I have to say.
- Skip the tap water and stock up on bottled water.
- Get a room! Honey mooner or not, the Zanzibar population is offended by public kissing and too overt sexual behaviour in public.
- Cover up! There’s a reason why a predominantly Muslim country does not have nude beaches, because being nude in a beach in Zanzibar is almost as illegal as smuggling drugs in some countries.
- Light it up! You are going to find a secret smoking place when in Zanzibar; the Muslims don’t take kindly to smoking or drinking in public.