The Jozani Forest Reserve
The Jozani Forest is located in the central east region of Zanzibar Island is the home of rare Red Colobus Monkey, which is only endemic to Zanzibar. A red colobus monkey, unlike their more widespread and adapted cousins, the Black and White Colobus, are a rain forest species which are now confined to very small areas of equatorial forest in tropical Africa. It is therefore a rare treat to be able to see them here in Zanzibar. The reserve also accommodate a large mangrove swamp and a tract of natural forest that is home to a few unique species including the Sykes monkey, bush babies, duikers, hyraxes, over 50 species of butterfly and 40 species of birds.
The Ngezi Forest Reserve
Located in Southern of Pemba Island. This equatorial forest reserve, containing rare trees, some not found anywhere else in the world. The wildlife includes indigenous flying foxes, blue duikers and several varieties of owl.
The Kiwengwa/Pongwe Forest Reserve
Located in the north east coast of Unguja just a walking distance from the beaches. The reserve provides an excellent memory to visitors. In this reserve you can really proof Zanzibar as Exotic Island. The forest has a high biodiversity of plant, invertebrate and bird species. Different species of mangroves can be found in this forest. It is the stop over destination for botanic and forest tourists.
The Kidike Root Site
Located in central region of Pemba just few kilometers from Chake Chake. It is the ideal place to discover the endangered Pemba flying Fox, endemic to the Island. Kidike Root Site provide a natural habitat for a large number of other animals (other than the Pemba Flying Foxes) including Vervet Monkies, Mozambique Cobras, Tortoises, Bush Crabs, Red eyed Doves, Mangrove King Fishers and many others.
ZALA Park is a small nature reserve and field study center set under the shade of a variety trees, including orange, lime and grapefruit, nutmeg and banana, Ginger, chilies, black pepper and cinnamon are all grown here too. The captive animal exhibits include Tree Hyraxes and a variety of reptiles, such as Green Tree Snakes, Mambas and some big Pythons. Chameleons, Geckos, Tortoises, Striped Lizards and Monitor Lizards are included amongst the legged reptiles. The Park is approximately 5km southern from Jozani Reserve.
- HISTORICAL PLACE
Msuka Mjini Ruins are located on the Kigomasha peninsular in Pemba and consists of mosque ruins dating back to the 15th century. The inside of the circular mirhab (prying showing direction of Mecca) is scratched with the date 816AH (1414AD)
Chake Chake is the oldest town in Pemba Island and has been occupied for many centuries. Ruins of an 18th Century fort are found here.
New archaeological research shows that there were human settlements dating back to 6th century art has Mkumbuu in Pemba. Some 12th century ruins in this area shows that there were human settlements before the arrival of Omani Arabs and the Shiraz in Zanzibar. It is the site of the ruins of a large mosque with an arched mihrab, fourteen elaborate and decorated pillar tombs, several wells and foundations of houses estimated to date from around the 14th or 15th century.
There are two sites of historical interest here. One is the 18th Century remains of the Mazrui governor’s headquarters. The ruins include a mosque, six family tombs and other graves. The other site is that of Harumi, where the Nabahani rulers had their headquarters in the 15th Century.
Mkia wa Ng’ombe
At this village stand the ruins of a big mosque, its size evidence of the large Muslim population that once lived here. Tomb pillars and wells similar to those at Ras Mkumbuu are in evidence here also.
These are the 13th century ruins of a fortified town in Pemba. They are located 10 km southeast of Chake Chake. Pujini was the official seat of the infamous Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman who ruled Pemba around the 15th century prior to the arrival of Portuguese on the East Coast. Locally, Rahman was known as Mkame Ndume or “milker of men” because of his cruelty and the harsh punishment meted out to his people. His citadel was a massive stone-built structure surrounded by a trench and a huge earthen rampart. Access for his ships to the sea was by way of a deep man-made canal cut out of a creek running through the mangrove swamps.
The historically, culturally and architecturally important capital town of Zanzibar Island is a World Heritage Site. In Stone Town, one can spend many idle hours wandering through the narrow labyrinthine streets and alleyways where mosses and lichens cling to damp crumbling coral-rag walls and pools of sunlight wash the small squares and street- front cafes in a warm glow. The narrow lanes snake between over 2,000 buildings where shops, Internet-cafes, market stalls and restaurants vie for space with various monuments and structures of cultural pride. Every turning gives on to a new vista, be it a quiet courtyard scene of old men chatting under looming shade trees, or a busy corner with a crowd of people watching international football on a TV set, balanced precariously on a stack of orange crates. The chants of the Quran may draw you toward a cool and ancient Madrasa tucked away in a sleep corner, or you may glance up at the girlish laughter tinkling down from a latticed balcony high above, where dark eyes flash within the velvet shadows.One’s of the first view of Zanzibar is usually that of the port and sea front seen from the ferry as it slows down to negotiate the moored craft in the harbour. Along this variegated skyline are paraded some of the most impressive building to be found on the islands, all overlocked by the Lock Tower atop the House of Wonders.
After clearing immigration, one wanders out of the Port Authority and turns right into Mizingani Road. The first of the wonderful buildings one passes is the grand, four-storey Old Dispensary with its particularly decorative balconies. Located opposite the new port buildings, the dispensary was built in the 1890s with money provided by a prominent Indian merchant and banker, Tharia Topan. Numbered amongst his clients was the notorious slave-trader, Tippu Tip.
A little further along the Mizingani Road, the Palace Museum (Beit-alSahel) was originally built and served as the official residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar until January 12th 1964, when the dynasty was overthrown in the people’s Zanzibar Revolution. It serves as a museum devoted to the era of the Zanzibar sultanate. The ground floor displays details of the formative period of the sultanate from 1828 to 1870 during which commercial treaties were signed between Zanzibar, United States of America, Britain and France. Inside the museum is the memorabilia of Princess Salme, one of the few famous women in the history of Zanzibar.
The exhibits on the 2nd floor focus on the period of affluence from 1870 to 1896 during which modern amenities such as piped water and electricity were introduced to Zanzibar under Sultan Barghash. The third floor consists of the modest living quarters of Sultan Khalifa bin Haroub (1911 to 1960) and his two wives, both of whom clearly had different tastes in furniture.
Outside the museum is the Makusurani graveyard where some of the Sultans were buried. Lying just south of the Palace Museum, The House of Wonders (Beit-al-Ajaib) was formerly the palace of Sultan Barghash. It gets its name from the fact it was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity, and the hundreds of light bulbs glowing at night must have made it truly a wondrous house. This four-storey building, surrounded by wide and spacious verandas and topped by a highly visible clock tower, was built in 1883 and is one of the largest structures in Zanzibar. The clock tower also houses the port’s shipping controller. One can walk around the outside gardens and look at the huge carved doors and the two old bronze cannons that bear Portuguese inscriptions. In 1896, the palace was the target of British bombardments intended to force the Sultan Khalid bin Barghash, who had tried to seize the throne after the death Sultan Hamad, to abdicate in favour of a British nominee. After its rebuild, Sultan Hamoud, who ruled Zanzibar from 1902 to 1911, used its upper floor as a presidential palace until his death.
Next to Beit-al-Ajaib and occupying the site of an Old Portuguese Chapel, is The Old Fort. The Abusaidi family of Omani Arabs, who had gained control of Zanzibar in 1698, following two centuries of Portuguese occupation, built this massive structure in the 1700s. The Arabs used the fort to defend themselves against the Portuguese and against a rival Omani group. In recent years it has been partially renovated to house the Zanzibar Cultural Centre. In an inner courtyard lies a stone-built amphitheatre that hosts performances of local music and dance, such as Taarab, Zanzibar’s most popular form of music. There is a small tourist information office, a gift shop and art gallery and the very pleasant Neem Tree Café. Continuing one’s journey of discovery into the hinterland of Stone Town, one comes across various other buildings, such as the Anglican Cathedral.
The oldest Christian Church of its kind in East Africa, the Cathedral stands on the site of the public slave market, on the eastern side of Stone Town. It was constructed by the Universities Mission in Central Africa (UMCA) in 1877 when the slave trade was abolished. The altar is built, somewhat incongruously, directly over the site of the Slave Whipping Post, which was, in reality, a tree. Outside there is a sombre monument to the memory of the countless number of slaves who passed through the islands’ markets. The life-like stone statues of male and female slaves, attached with iron shackles and chains, stand in a pit symbolising not only their inhumane incarceration but also depth of their despair.
The church was the first Anglican Cathedral to be built in East Africa and is still in use today. Nothing remains of the Slave Market except, beneath the nearby St. Monica’s Hostel, there are some underground chambers or holding cells; a small but terrible reminder of the dark side of humanity. Just outside Stone Town, to the northeast along Malawi Road, stands Livingstone House. Sultan Said Majid, who ruled Zanzibar and Tanzania’s coast from 1856 to 1870, built it around 1860.
This building is named for the well-known and respected missionary-cum-explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, who used it as a base for his wanderings. During the second half of the 19th century, several other European missionaries and explorers, such as Burton and Speke, used it as the starting point for their expeditions to the interior of Africa. Most of houses were built during the 19th century, when Zanzibar became the trading centre of East Africa. The majority of the old buildings in the Stone Town are used as residential flats on the upper floors and business premises on the ground floors. Some of these buildings have been converted or utilised as modern tourist hotels and restaurants.
The fruit and food market, built in 1904, is about halfway along Creek Road (now renamed Benjamin Mkapa Road) and is a good place for shopping and sightseeing. It is an attractive place full of fresh farm produce, but the most evocative products are the scented spices and seafood. People from various parts of Zanzibar bring their produce here, while petty traders have outside stalls surrounding the big market hall, where they sell industrial products ranging from sewing machines to second hand clothes and motor vehicle spare parts. Early in the morning, the air is awash with the smells of freshly baked bread on one side, with that of fresh fish on the other.
Built by sultan Said Barghash in the late 19th century, the Hamamni Persian Baths were the first public baths in Zanzibar. Although they are no longer functioning, they are maintained in near-perfect condition. To go inside the baths, one must ask the caretaker, living opposite, to unlock the gate; there is a nominal entrance fee, which goes towards the upkeep of the building. Explanatory plaques are situated at salient points around the baths and chambers.
The old Peace Memorial Museum (Beit el Amani) contains exhibits and records which make up the rich history of Zanzibar, from the early days of the Omani Sultans and the British colonial period right up until independence. This magnificent structure houses old and new history books, a selection of archaeological findings, plus records of early trade, slavery, palaces, mosques, sultans, explorers and missionaries, in addition to exhibits of traditional crafts, stamps and coins.
The museum also contains Dr. David Livingstones’ memorabilia, as well as the drums used by the Sultans and a priceless collection of the lithographs, maps and photographs dating from the 19 th and early 20 centuries.
Sultan Palace Museum
One of several royal palaces, this (and its predecessors on the same site) served as the “town house” of the Busaidi Sultans, looking out across the harbour. Part of a palace complex it was the main official residence within the Stone Town. The museum is furnished in what would have been typical nineteenth century style for members of the royal family. Sultan Said and some of his descendants lie buried in the palace graveyard.
The Peace Memorial Museum
Located on Creek Road near the intersection of Kuanda Road and designed by the same architect who designed the High Court, J. H. Sinclair, the National Museum is home to many of Zanzibar’s memorabilia including, most notably, Livingstone’s medical chest. Also on display are a piece of Zanzibar’s (and East Africa’s first) railroad, and an old, palm oil-powered bicycle lamp. For history buffs it’s a great place to read up on Zanzibar’s history as it relates to everything from slavery, the royal families, coins, stamps, local crafts, trade and the many and varied colonial years. Next door to the museum is a small Natural History museum that includes some stuffed and jarred specimens along with a few bones, including those of a dodo. The only live specimens are the large land tortoises that live outside in a large cage. If your trip doesn’t allow you to get to Prison Island – make sure you swing by the Peace Memorial Museum to check out the big tortoises – they’re the only ones in town!
Zanzibar has been at the crossroads of trade routes for thousands of years as peoples of Africa, India, Iran, China and other parts of Asia and the Arab world have all played their parts in influencing the music, architecture, food and culture of the region. In its origins, taarab was court music, played in the palace of Sultan Barghash. The sounds of Arabic musical traditions, India, Indonesia and other countries of the ‘Dhow region’ (the Indian Ocean basin) are clearly distinguishable even today, mingling to form a unique flavour and providing the frame for the Swahili poetry which makes up the heart of taarab music.
Different theories abound about the real origins of taarab in Zanzibar. Legend has it that in the 1870s Sultan Bargash sent a Zanzibari to Cairo to learn to play the qanun, a kind of zither, common to the Arab-speaking world. Among the first singers to record taarab music in Swahili language was the legendary Siti binti Saad, who was taken to India by a film director. Siti stopped performing in the 1940s, but her records – solo and in duet with Sheikh Mbaruk – continued to be issued on 78rpm throughout the 1950s and are still much in demand. Besides the qanun, other instruments that came to feature in the taarab groups (or orchestras) include the oud, violins, ney, accordion, cello and a variety of percussion. Hence much of the traditional taarab music sounds like a more africanised version of some of the great Egyptian popular classical orchestras that played alongside singers like Oum Kulthoum, who is still played on Radio Zanzibar to this day.
The best way to experience taarab is at a local concert, but visitors to Zanzibar are also welcome at the orchestras’ rehearsals in Malindi or at Vuga Clubhouse in the evening. What Andy Morgan (Roots magazine) says in an article on Zanzibari music definitely holds true: ‘There’s hardly anything in the whole of Africa as uplifting as the swelling sounds of a full taarab orchestra in full sail.’
This music style, which is less refined and more upbeat than taarab, could be located musically somewhere between Stonetown big-orchestra taarab and the rural ngoma music. It is most often performed at Zanzibar weddings and other celebrations and is closely related to taarab. In fact, contemporary kidumbak often makes use of the latest taarab hit songs and is sometimes called ‘kitaarab‘, which means ‘a diminutive type of taarab’ or ‘derived from taarab’. Historical evidence suggests that Swahili taarab was originally performed in a very similar way to kidumbak and only later changed to resemble court orchestra music.
The kidumbak ensemble consists of a single melodic instrument, customarily a violin (played in frantic fiddle-style), a sanduku, or tea-chest-bass, two small clay drums (ki-dumbakv), which form the rhythmic core of every such ensemble, and other rhythm instruments, such as cherewa, a kind of maracas manufactured from coconut shells filled with seeds, or mkwasa, short wooden sticks played like claves. In contrast to taarab, kidumbak is much more rhythmic and the lyrics more drastic than the poetic settings of the taarab songs, often criticising other people’s social behaviour. At wedding performances, the singer has to be able to string together a well-timed medley of ngoma songs, and she or he must have the ability to compose lyrics on the spot. At a wedding in Zanzibar, one kidumbak set usually lasts for an hour; as one song joins the next, the intensity heats up, with the main attraction being the interplay between the music and song of the players and the dancing and chorus response of the wedding guests.
This brass band music originated around the end the 19th century as a mockery of colonial style military bands. It was soon incorporated in the competitive song-and-dance exchanges so popular on the Swahili coast and spread from there all over east Africa. Beni (from English ‘band’) is a popular entertainment for weddings in Zanzibar with a strong focus on rhythm and dance, and audience participation.
Beni borrows choruses from the latest taarab hits and arranges them in extended medleys with the female wedding audience joining in for the chorus and as dancers. It is funny music, vivacious, raucous and lively. If you can imagine a deranged military marching band playing as loud as possible on half-broken trumpets, trombones, drums – only vaguely in tune with each other, but having a great time – then you will get the idea!.
Beni is performed both as a street parade and, stationary, for a wedding dance. The band Beni ya Kingi usually kick off the opening parade for the Festival of the Dhow Countries, which winds its way slowly through the narrow streets of Stone Town before reaching Forodhani Gardens at the waterfront with a great crowd which then turns into a wild and lively party.
Undoubtedly a pop-phenomenon (and therefore ephemeral) is a modern style of taarab, called rusha roho, which translates literally ‘to make the spirit fly’ and has some untranslatable meaning approximating to ‘upsetting someone’ or ‘making the other one jealous’. Modern taarab is also the first style of taarab that’s designed to be danced to, and features direct lyrics, bypassing the unwritten laws of lyrical subtlety of the older groups.
Much of modern taarab music is composed and played on keyboards, increasing portability; hence the group is much smaller in number than ‘real taarab’ orchestras and therefore more readily available to tour and play shows throughout the region. This fact has led to enormous popularity in Zanzibar, boosted by the prolific output of cassette recordings, which, though not up to European studio quality standards, still outsell tapes by any other artist local or international.
A trip to the many ruins and old buildings of Zanzibar is a voyage of discovery through time. The journey can take one from Stone Town’s narrow streets and coral-rag walls – clad with rank lichens and sun-faded plaster, to tended gardens and lily-ponds; overlooked by towering pillars who stand like sentinels of the past, guarding the hidden tombs of time gone by. Like sweat from the pores of a slave, the ruins ooze history and legend from their cracked stone and mossy walls, and the echoes one hears within are not just of these tropical isles, but of desert lands and ancient civilisations far away in distance and time. Put down your camera and move away from that gaggle of noisy children. Sit on that tumbled column, look around you and listen… The laughter of sloe-eyed concubines echoes within the hollow chambers of the Persian baths. From the deep dark pit, moaning and wailing wafts up on the thin, clear air and evaporates like tears in the sunlight.
Maruhubi Palace Ruins
The Maruhubi Palace is about 4 km from Zanzibar Town. Outside, surrounded by undulating lawns, there are many remains of the buildings some massive stone pifiars, which once supported a large overhead balcony and aq one side, is a low stone basin, containing water lilies and pond life. This site is an peaceful place for a picnic and to escape the bustle of Stone Town for a couple of hou walk brings one to the beach where local fishermen carry out net and boat re preparations for their fishing trips.
Dunga ruins are those of a palace and are located on the main road to Chwaka halfway across the island. The palace was built and used by the last and most feare the line of rulers of these the Islands. The ruins date back to the 15th century, when e settlements on the coast flourished.
Mtoni Palace Ruins
Mtoni Palace lies next to Mamhubi. The area was chosen by Sultan Said bin Suit palace, which was constructed between 1828 and 1834 after he left Muscat and made his seat.
These ruins are situated on the shore. The fine arches are all that remain of this Persian-built structure. Although building started in 1847, Sultan Sciyyid Said died before its completion, and custom prevented his successor form continuing the work. Many of the stones were moved and used in constructing a seven-mile stretch of the Bububu Railway.
The Slave Chambers and Coral Caves
Just north of Mangapwani Beach, on the northwest it that, following the abolition of the slave trade this cave was used by illegal traders to secrete their slaves before spiriting them away through the tunnel to waiting pirate ships. It is somewhat surprising that, despite its location and convenient and arcane access to the sea, there is no evidence this cave was ever used for this clandestine purpose.
The nearby Slave Chambers, however, were specially constructed for holding slaves prior to transportation. Some 3km north of the Coral Cave, one can see two large sloping stone slabs, just above ground level. These slabs are actually roofs, which cover a set of small underground chambers in which over one hundred slaves would have been packed, awaiting the arrival of the merchant ships to transport them away. To descend the steep and moss-covered steps leading down into this “bottomless pit” is, even now, like entering the gateway to doom.
Buini Palace Ruins
This palace, built by Sultan Barghash, lies on an artificial terrace behind a creek which the participants was so enthralled by Bi Khole’s looks, he did not realise he had pierced himself with his sabre until he noticed blood flowing from his lap.
The ancient Mosque at Kizimkazi . Kizimkazi, almost at the southern tip of the island, is the site of a Shiraz mosque dating from the early 12th century and considered to be one of the oldest Islamic buildings on the East African coast. Restoration of the mosque to the condition we introduction of Islam into southern East Africa. Nearby, just above the high water mark on the beach, are the remains of an 18th century stone wall, which once formed a defensive perimeter around the whole settlement. The merchant who built the wall, and for whom the village is named, resisted the Portuguese invaders and was taken prisoner. He pleaded with his captors to be allowed to go and pray on the beach before being taken away. They permitted this… and never saw him again!
Kidichi Persian Baths
Kidichi Persian Baths are located about 11km northeast of town on one of the Spice Tour routes. Sultan Seyyid Said built them in 1850, for his Persian wife. The Baths are well maintained both inside and out, with some very good examples of the domed skylights that allowed light to enter the windowless buildings.
Fukuchani Ruins and Mvuleni Ruins
The Enclosure Houses at Fukuchani and Mvuleni are located about halfway between Mkwajuni and Has Nungwi on the northern part of the island. These 16th Century coral rag houses, built in stone wall enclosures, represent a group of the finest domestic stone houses of this period.
Zanzibar ‘s natural abundance sustains bio diversity worthy of any East African destination, with Marine parks for the protection of its natural resources.
The Zanzibar Coast is fortunate in having one of the best deep sea fishing in Zanzibar Islands and the the Indian Ocean. Not only is there a wide variety of top sporting game fish, but there is also a variety of sea life to be observed.
In Chumbe Island’s, coral reefs and biodiversity are so well preserved. Chumbe Coral Park is the first of many marine parks created East Africa. It also has an education centre, a terrestrial Nature Trail and an “Eco-lodge” for accommodation.
A Conservation Zone surrounds Mnemba Island also supports a variety of aquatic creatures and plant life. The zone provides a nesting site for the endangered Green Turtle. The zone is located in northeast of Unguja Island just 10km from stone town. There is an exclusive accommodation facility for the tourist on the island.
Misali Island lying within the Pemba Channel Conservation Area has been a popular destination from the seventeenth century when pirates used the island as a safe hiding place for their booty &andsh; the lost treasure of the infamous Captain Kidd is still thought to be buried somewhere on the island. The present allure of Misali is due its natural treasures beautiful coral reefs, coloured by a myriad of jewel-like fish; an open forest which is home to the rare Fischer`s Turaco a dazzling green forest bird, vervet monkeys and the nocturnal bat known as the Pemba flying fox. The island and its coastal waters can be explored following established nature trails which have been designed to lead the visitor through the most impressive of the islands wonders. Misali water have now been declared as an Marine Conservation Areas, in which fishing is controlled. The regulations also provide for the western reefs to be totally non-fished, providing a sanctuary for breeding fish and a wonderful location for snorkeling in Zanzibar. A small fee is levied on visitors, which will support a community development fund for the Misali fishermen.
Menai bay Conservation area is located southwest of Unguja Island, this 470sq km marine and coastal area is a traditional Zanzibar fishing ground, containing extensive tropical fish species, sea grasses, coral reefs and several small islets supporting mangrove forest.
All marine parks are popular diving and best snorkeling in Zanzibar offering underwater cliffs, wrecks, canyons, caves and spectacular reefs where visibility is normally in excess of 20m. The aquatic life within these waters is often very prolific and one usually sees moray eels, scorpion fish, lion fish, large groupers, octopus, lobsters, rays and, occasionally, and manta rays and dolphins.
Education and awareness programs, for local and visitors alike, are deemed a very important and necessary part of the management plan of the parks. Environmentally friendly tourism and other economic incentives are being developed to help sustain the resource explotatation at all.