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Zanzibar is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience, with its fascinating historical Stone Town and magnificent beaches.

Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town – said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.


Stone Town

It may not have a particularly romantic name, but Stone Town is the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. This one-upmanship is particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors – there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. You can spend many idle hours and days just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.

Stone Town was recently and deservedly declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO

Most of the houses that can be seen today were built in the 19th century when Zanzibar was one of the most important trading centres in the Indian Ocean region. The coraline rock of Zanzibar was a good building material, but it is also easily eroded. This is evident by the large number of houses that are in a bad state of repair. Several buildings have already been renovated and the Stone Town Conservation Authority has been established to co-ordinate the restoration of the town to its original magnificence. As a result of sensible policy, nearly all of the major hotels built in Stone Town are housed in renovated buildings.

Hotels in Stone Town include the Zanzibar Serena Inn, Tembo House Hotel, Dhow Palace Hotel and Hotel International.

As you walk through the town, please remember that Stone Town is very much a real community, where real people live and work. It is not a museum piece or theme park created for tourists, and sensitivity should be shown to the local people.If you want to learn more about Stone Town, there are various ways to do it. You can either wander through the narrow streets by yourself armed with a map, or you can embark on a tour with one of the local tour operators.




Zanzibar’s beaches

Zanzibar’s brilliant white beaches lapped by the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean provide the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun and take a break from some busy sightseeing.

The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise, interspersed with picturesque fishing villages, where the people live a simple way of life, unchanged over the years. There are more than 25 fantastic beaches in Zanzibar, and some are so peaceful and remote that the only noise breaking the silence is likely to be the ocean.

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