If you want to spend your next summer holiday in an exotic land where marvels, magic and beauty lurk at every corner, try Zanzibar for size. A place where nature never sleeps and sun shines bright all through the year, the Tanzanian region is renowned for its fascinating powdery beaches, clear ocean waters, mouth-watering dishes, exciting dhow safaris, vibrant cultural mix and numerous monuments honouring the country’s turbulent history, colourful marine flora, abundance of adrenaline-pumping activities and impressive variety of exotic wildlife species. All of these features make Zanzibar a perfect tropical hideaway for adventurers and romantics alike. Let’s take a quick tour of this amazing land, shall we?
The Zanzibar Archipelago: A hotpot of cultures
Zanzibar’s history is marked by strong commercial ties with Europe, India and Middle East, which resulted in a unique blend of cultural identities that pervade all aspects of everyday life in the area. In addition to its multiculturality, Zanzibar also takes pride in abundance of historical monuments which testify of the explorations of British adventurers and missionaries such as the Livingstone house, as well as aw-inspiring remnants from the era of Omani reign (House of Wonders, Sultan’s Palace and Forodhani Gardens).
Soak in the sun: Zanzibar’s pristine beaches
Zanzibar is a true tropical paradise for lovers of beach-borne fun. The archipelago boasts some of the world’s loveliest beaches fringed by palms and embraced by crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. With water temperatures highest in March (30°C), the African jewel is still largely unspoilt by mass tourism, which makes it a perfect island getaway for tourists who want peace, quiet and a romantic exotic backdrop on their vacation. In addition to long days of warm sun interrupted only by refreshing ocean breezes, Zanzibar is also a great place to go diving and snorkelling as local marine life is characterized by abundance of colourful coral reefs, large schools of lionfish, tuna, barracuda, and trevally, as well as scary moray eels, shy octopuses, lobsters and sea turtles. Further offshore, you can even meet a hammerhead shark, stingrays, white and black tip sharks, as well as giant saddleback groupers and dolphins.
Hoist the sails: Exciting dhow rides
Although Zanzibar cannot claim the bragging rights for a unique African safari experience, it does offer an exciting boat-borne alternative: the dhow safari. You can hire a traditional Swahili boat with a lanteen-style sail manned by experienced crew to take you for a fascinating sea adventure during which you will be able to view the island from various offshore vantage points and learn the basics of sailing if you are so inclined. Dhow rides are extremely popular among tourists visiting this African paradise, so make sure you book your dhow well beforehand.
Sunshine all year round: Climate and weather
Though Zanzibar is blessed by moderate climate, low precipitation and lots of sunshine all through the year, the best months to go on an African adventure in the region are December-February, when the temperatures are at their peak. February is normally the hottest month, and in case you prefer somewhat cooler temperatures, go and visit the area in spring months, from June to October. Rainy seasons (mid-March to late May and November) are not very popular time of year for tourists visiting Tanzania because of frequent downpours, so avoid them if you want to experience the true spirit and beauty of the region.
Getting around: Dala Dala bus vs. private rides
One more Zanzibar experience you will never forget is a ride on the Dala Dala bus. Public transportation in the region mostly boils down to minibuses which may not be precisely an ideal transport option for lovers of cosy rides (the Dala Dala is basically a truck transformed into a bus by adding benches for seating), but they will certainly add a dash of adventure and fun to your stay. If you prefer comfort to the ways of the locals, however, you can buy or rent a car as the prices of vehicles in Tanzania are far more affordable than in the rest of the world.
When it comes to magic, wilderness and adventure, Zanzibar is every escapist’s dream come true. With vivid flora and fauna, warm climate, clean beaches, numerous historical sites and lots of leisure activities, this African pearl is the closest to secluded tourist heaven you can hope to find. If you want to escape to a tropical island just for a few days, Zanzibar is a perfect choice – we promise you will fall in love with the lovely islands and maybe even decide to move here for good.
Oliver Hyde is an experienced business consultant from the UK. His job allows him to travel, which also happens to be one of his greatest passions. Recently, he discovered the truth behind the saying “The only man I truly envy is the one who has not yet been to Africa… he has so much to look forward to.” Being a wanderer, he rarely stays at the same place for a long time, but Africa stole his heart. He had been traveling through the continent for more than a year. You can follow his travel adventures on Twitter.
Have you seen something amazing during your travels? Write about it and have it published on Backpackways.com Know How To.