Zanzibar: Stone Town City Tour

With wide open arms, he ran and gave us an emphatic hug,
“Karibu!” he exclaimed in Swahili with a dazzling smile.
Truly the friendliest taxi driver, we’ve ever met.

After our African Safari in South Africa and a long plane ride, we landed in Stone Town to a cheerful greeting on the tropical island of Zanzibar, a paradise in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago off the coast of Tanzania consists of the islands of Unguja, commonly known as Zanzibar, and Pemba.

Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, chock full of East African history, and a melting pot of African, Arab, Indian, and Europen cultures. Here are a few postcards of our wanderings in the city. Hopefully, they provide a sense of its vibrant and appealing diversity.

Cannons along the seafront, remnants of early Portuguese rulers ready to protect the city from invasion. DSC_0026Starting with the well-known city landmark, the House of Wonders, a former palace for the sultan of Zanzibar. Being that it was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity and an elevator, made it wondrous.DSC_0688Nearby, another Sultan residence, the Palace Museum gives one a peek into the past of the Zanzibari royal family. DSC_0698DSC_0703Strolling through the captivating narrow streets and winding alleyways, one can observe Zanzibaris go about their daily activities.DSC_0710IMG_0157

IMG_0151DSC_0761DSC_0093DSC_0083The focal point of community life revolves around the barazas, or benches that line the outside of the Swahili homes. DSC_0716IMG_0012Although there are various faiths in Stone Town, the overwhelming majority of the citizens are Muslim, and the call to prayer reverberates through the streets five times daily.

The chaotic Darajani market is the central bazaar for all kinds of smells and goods, including exotic fruits, colourful kangas, and a wholesale fish market where you can bid on the seafood as it comes in off the boats.DSC_0764fish marketDSC_0767Children bring life to the streets and giving them a soccer ball always brings smiles.DSC_0009DSC_0787Anyone who follows our post knows we love old doors, and Zanzibar has its fair share. Two styles define the unique wooden carved doors; arched transoms are of Indian influence, many with large brass-stud adorning the mahogany and teak doors, and the squared tops are of Omani Arab influence.


IMG_0018Be sure to visit the Anglican Cathedral of the Christ Church which is built on the former grounds of the biggest open slave market in Zanzibar. A heritage centre on the site has an excellent and informative presentation on the four-hundred years of the dark and regrettable chapter of East Africa’s history.DSC_0994The slavery memorial serves as a reminder of the atrocities suffered by the men, women and children who were captured and sold into slavery. DSC_0997The historic quarter has various bazaars, shops, and stall offering plenty of shopping temptations from vibrant African fabrics, wood carvings, leather sandals, Tinga Tinga painting, to traditional handicrafts.DSC_0732Gord showing off the new addition to his growing T-shirt collection. DSC_0040By late afternoon, retire for cocktails or mocktails at one of the many rooftop terraces for happy ‘hour’ and watch the sun as it slips into the ocean. Two of our favourite spots; the Swahïlï House and Emerson Spice Hotel offer stunning panoramas over the city.

View of the Hindu temple, tin-roofed homes, and the blue Indian Ocean. DSC_0043IMG_3434IMG_0034After sunset, head to the Forodhani Gardens to for a taste of local cuisine, fiery samosa, and meat or seafood cooked up on the charcoal grills. The evening food market buzzes with activity, and there is a multitude of vendors who will compete for your business.DSC_0034Finish off with a famous Zanzibar Pizza.IMG_0207Stone Town is one of those places in the world whose precise character is hard to put a finger on. Tropical sunshine, aromatic spices, sultry nights, delectable seafood, Nutella pizza, happy people, azure waters, and breathtaking sunsets are a few reasons you’ll fall in love with the fascinating cultural and historical capital.

10 thoughts on “Zanzibar: Stone Town City Tour

  1. Wow, what a amazing time you two are having. I’d love to go to Zanzibar – it looks so exotic, just my kind of place. I really like that photo of all the people in the narrow street.

    • Alison, Zanzibar really is exotic…and we haven’t even discussed the beaches yet! Had it not been for the start of the rainy season and the humidity, we would have stayed longer. – Ginette

  2. I’ve always wanted to make it to Zanzibar, ever since I taught African History in West Africa. Tanzania was as close as I got. Thanks for the photograph essay, Ginette. –Curt

  3. Pingback: Natural Beauty in Zanzibar: Nungwi and Kiwengwa | White Postcards

  4. Your post revived my memories of Zanzibar! We lived there for 7 months and I’ve spent many mornings exploring the bylanes of Stone Town. It’s another world with its own pace of life with mesmerising sea views and sunsets and also happens to be the birthplace of my blog!

    • Hello Sharada! As I look back at our last nine months of travel, Stone Town is one of my top ten favourite destinations. Actually, all of Zanzibar is. Oh, how I’d welcome seven months to discover more of the city and captivating island! By the way, I love your blog name:) – Ginette

      • Thanks Ginette! Just started going through your blog (well, just finished reading about both of you!) and love your spirit for adventure. I am guessing you must have had a fabulous nine months of travel!

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