Zanzibar

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Sightseeing in Zanzibar

Stone Town , on the western shore of Unguja Island, is the seat of the government of Zanzibar and the capital of this region. The city is named for the large multi-story "stone" buildings in the old quarter. Unlike other houses in the region, the stone houses of Zanzibar were actually constructed with coral and mortar, not stone and were built in the boom times of the slave trade in the 15th century. Most of the old houses stand out for their remarkable doors – the famous carved and studded wooden doors of Zanzibar, the size and style reflecting the status of the resident. Around 1700 of these buildings can still be seen in old Zanzibar, an amazing hotch-potch of narrow alleys, old houses, mosques, ornate palaces and cluttered shops and bazaars.

There are many other interesting places on the island, like the Mtoni Palace , built in the 19th century by an Arab merchant to accommodate 1000 people. The Persian Battis of Kidehi are remarkably well preserved domed bathhouses with deep stone baths. The Jozani Natural Forest Reserve is located in the central east region of Zanzibar Island and is home to the rare Red Colobus Monkey found mostly in Zanzibar.

Pemba Island is the greenest of the islands of Zanzibar and actually looks like a floating forest; so lush is the vegetation on it. The Omanis established the spice plantations on Pemba and the islands produce 80% of the cloves grown in Zanzibar. Pemba or the ‘Garden of God’ has three main towns, Wete, Mkoani and Chake Chake . Archeological sites dating from 9th to15th century have revealed the ruins of mosques, houses, funeral pillars, coins, pearls and pottery fragments. Pemba is separated from the mainland by the Pemba Channel that goes to depths of 3000ft. Coral reefs protect both the island's eastern coasts from stronger currents of the Indian Ocean and allow over 150 species of corals to flourish here. Some of the reefs around Pemba Island rise to the size of towering cliffs. The waters are very clear with visibility up to 150ft at times and offer great fishing for game fish in the Pemba Channel.

Mafia Island lie 160 km to the south of the main island and is celebrated as the perfect place for big game fishermen to match wits with magnificent specimens of kingfish, marlin, sailfish and rock cod. Scuba divers love to frolic in its clear waters that are home to a rich variety of marine life including the dugong and giant turtles.

Prison Island or Chumbe Island is fringed with a beautiful coral reef, ideal for snorkeling and a lovely beach, tailor-made for a lazy holiday in the sun. The island was used as a penitentiary for recalcitrant slaves but is now home to a family of giant tortoises, brought from the island of Seychelles over a hundred years ago.


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